Help with colors

I am a huge fan of color. The more color, the better. I find I am often drawn to full-spectrum works of art, and you’re going to see what I mean by that in my next art journal entry when I post it (it’s all finished – just have it sitting under some heavy books right now so I can get the pages to flatten out properly before I take some photos!)

As a graphic designer, I have background training in using color, so I can usually come up with a set of colors for my art journal layouts that go well together.

But what if you need some inspiration? Or a little help in figuring out a set of colors that will look great together in a layout and not clash unpleasantly?

I’d like to introduce you to Adobe Color.


If you’re a graphic designer, you’re likely familiar with this useful tool.

If you’re a hobby art journaler, or an artist who has stuck primarily to the physical realm for art tools, perhaps this is new to you.

Adobe, as you may know, is the producer of many powerful computer design programs. Probably most famous of all is Photoshop. They have a long history and background in design and supplying tools to designers to help them with their work.

As an art journaler, just because you don’t use Adobe programs does not mean you should not be able to take advantage of Adobe Color and use it to provide you with inspiration and assistance with choosing color palettes.

In order to use Adobe Color, you do need to have an Adobe I.D. You can create one for free, and I can assure you Adobe does not SPAM my email because I have an I.D. with them. When you do set up your Adobe I.D., just be sure to check your email / communication preferences to ensure you receive the level of communication from them you desire.

Once you have created your Adobe I.D., it’s time to hop into Adobe Color and have some fun.

You have a few options available to you on their web site.

You can start to Create. Or you can Explore.

If you’re looking for pre-existing color ideas, “Explore” is the way to go. I like to search by “Most Popular” as these are typically the more visually appealing color themes.

Just a small taste of the vast selection of pre-made color themes available on Adobe Color.
Closer look at popular theme, “Vitamin C” and user comments.

You can then get brave and Create.

The Create process provides you with a color wheel and swatches of color beneath with color sliders.

You can create a Base Color in one of the swatches beneath the color wheel. So, in the examples below, I was feeling in a “teal” sort of mood, so I set a teal color as my base color. I then played around with the Color Rules in the upper left of the screen. Adobe Color provides you with six pre-made rules and one rule where you can customize the colors, changing each swatch yourself if you’re not satisfied with the swatches the other rules provided.

Analogous Color Rule
Monochromatic Color Rule
Triad Color Rule
Complimentary Color Rule
Compound Color Rule
Shades Color Rule

From the above examples, I decided I liked the Triad color rule. I enjoyed the contrasting colors it provided.

I can either take a screen shot of this, or save the color set under my I.D. to reference later.

Saving my color theme.

You may notice the varied numbers listed beneath each swatch. Those numbers are references for graphic designers and web designers. RGB is a set of codes that can be entered into a program like Adobe Photoshop to get the exact color you see above it on the screen. The same goes with the HEX code. It can either be entered into an Adobe program (or similar design program), or coded into a web site. Adobe users can additionaly export the theme as an Adobe Color Swatch that will allow a designer to quickly load the swatch set into their chosen program’s swatch panel.

Since I am writing this ideally with an audience of art journalers in mind, however, I’m going to take a guess that a good deal of you do not have access to such programs and that you will really only be using what you see on your screen as a visual guide to help you pick out paints or mix colors for your next art project. Thus saving the swatch set for later reference is a good idea so you can pull it up on your computer another time, or simply take a screen shot and save it.

It doesn’t just stop at the color wheel, either.

Pretend you have a photo that you’re using as inspiration and you’d like to pull some colors from it and see what the Color Rules suggest.

You can upload any photo and play with the Color Rules in the exact same way and save your results.

Using a photo as a reference to create a color theme.
Saved themes under my Adobe I.D.

I hope you found this information helpful. Sometimes my head puts up road blocks when I open a new blank spread in my art journal and I need a little push in the right direction for some color inspiration. I plan on using Adobe Color occasionally for my layouts.

Please like and share this page if you enjoyed this information. Happy creating!



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