So many of you have told me that you struggle with choosing colors for your work. I hear you! I used to agonize over color combinations and wonder why my colors never seemed to look as good as everyone else’s. It wasn’t until I did a deep dive into building color palettes that I finally understood how to create beautiful palettes, without fail.
Below I’ll show you some tips and examples + share some palettes I created using the principles in the post. Not sure how to sample colors and create palettes in Procreate? I show the super-easy steps in video 2 of this tutorial, so check it out if you need some help with the technical side of building palettes!
So what is the secret to creating beautiful color palettes? Here are a few rules I always follow. Although in art, all rules are meant to be broken, so don’t feel like you have to follow ALL of these rules every time!
1) Use photographs as a starting point. Find some photos with beautiful colors and contrast and pull colors from there. I never try to pull colors out of my head, because colors are perceived with your EYES not your brain, so stop trying to make your brain do things your eyes are supposed to do. Your brain can choose colors, but it needs to see them first, so give yourself a starting point to take the pressure off.
Use your own photos if you have them, or use a site like Unsplash or Pixabay which has free photos for personal and commercial use.
2) Get a wide range of colors. Think about both dark to light contrast and color contrast (yellows vs. blues). An eye catching color palette will have colors that contrast against each other, so if you choose some dark blue shades, get some bright pinks to contrast against them.
3) Start with a lot of colors, then pare down. I find it’s a lot easier to edit out colors I don’t like than it is to add new ones. So don’t be afraid to load up your palette with colors that may not work together, because you may end up only using two or three colors anyway!
4) When in doubt, look to nature. Why do bouquets seem to look beautiful no matter what flowers you put in them? Why do sunsets ALWAYS look gorgeous no matter what colors are in the sky? Nature has already created a never ending source of beautiful color palettes for us to use, all with perfectly contrasting colors. All you have to do is capture them in a photograph and pull them into Procreate. So start snapping pictures of those gorgeous sunsets, bouquets, and gardens that catch your eye!
5) Make palettes now, make art later. If you make yourself a library of color palettes that fit your style, you’ll never have another “WHAT COLOR SHOULD I USE???” freakout. So take a few hours to build yourself a library of colors, and you’ll be thanking yourself for months to come.
There are a few go-to “nature photos” that I always keep an eye out for because they seem to create gorgeous color palettes, every single time. Here are a few of my favorites:
-Landscapes with water
And one of my personal favorites, bouquets.
You can download all of these palettes using the links below. If you create some beautiful palettes, I’d love to see them! You can tag me on Instagram and Facebook @LizKohlerbrown Happy coloring!
Download the Bouquet Palettes*
Download the Landscape Palettes*
These are all Procreate files, so they may not work in other apps. To use them, download the file, then choose Procreate as the app.