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Picking a Color Palette? Don’t Make One of These Common Mistakes

by Rachel Gregg
craft & maker

Need tips on how to choose paint colors? Check out these tips on the CreativeLive blog.

Selecting a color palette is making a commitment. Colors work together to express an idea. Choose the wrong color and run the risk of expressing the wrong idea.

Whether you are painting a room or designing a poster, you want to choose a color scheme that creates the right atmosphere for the project.

To help make that happen, we’ve assembled Tobi Fairley’s top 10 tips for choosing paint colors. While Tobi works in the world of interior design, her insights can be applied to all creative endeavors that involve color.

1. Not starting from square one.

It is tempting to let your “common sense” about color foreclose some really amazing possibilities. Set all of that baggage behind and let your let your creativity be your guide.

2. Not putting purpose first.

Colors have the impressive power to impact our emotional state. They can quickly overstimulate, under-stimulate, and distract people. Remember WHY you are selecting a color and let purpose and function steer you towards the appropriate palette.

3. Starting before you are ready.

When you design anything: a room, a tote bag, or a painting – it is important to get all of your ducks in a row. If you pick a bold color before you are ready to commit you might end up with a haphazard or piecemeal look.

Want to know how to choose paint colors, check out our creative classes.

4. Not taking color seriously.

Colors are complex. Be sure to consider the tone, tint, and shade of the colors you select. Remember the color theory basics of complementary, analogous, and triadic combinations and you’ll end up with a final look you’ll love.

5. Not using all available resources.

There is no reason to invent the color wheel. We already have it! Take advantage of paint charts and fabric swatches to find inspiration for your projects.

6. Not considering context.

Where will your final color combination live? The environment really does shape the way we see and experience color. Think about where this color palette is going to exist in the world and let that instruct you.

7. Breaking the rules.

Okay, okay. We are all makers here and, as such, we love to put our own unique stamp on the world. However poorly paired colors are not going to create the look you want go for. Instead you’ll end up with a chaotic, unattractive design. There is plenty of room for creative expression without ignoring color theory. See below.

8. Rigidly following the rules.

Being different for the sake of being different isn’t going to get you good results. But innovating against standards totally will. You should aim to deviate from the standards with purpose and skill.

Want to know how to choose paint colors, check out our creative classes.

9. Ignoring the work of the pros.

Professionals know all the tricks. They consider surface texture, cutting edge trends, and customization. Don’t be afraid to do the same. Pay attention to high fashion. Find inspiration in impossibly expensive catalog spreads. Consider small tweaks to everyday looks and you’ll make a bigger impact when it is time to settle on your color scheme.

10. Forgetting to have fun!

Color is fun! Let yourself indulge in developing mood boards and compiling inspirational images. Pick a final look that resonates and reminds you why you love making!

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Rachel Gregg

Rachel is the content marketing lead for the CreativeLive Craft Channel. Her side hustle is floral design and her day job is awesome. @ms_gregarious.