A step by step tutorial on how to create a beautiful color scheme and palette for your clients and business
Oh, the art, joy, and sometimes frustrating path of branding and design. When designing for clients it’s important to have as many visual elements as you can to provide a clear brand storytelling. The most commonly seen color boards are within the fashion, marketing, and interior design industries.
So, whether you are designing for yourself or your client, this tutorial is for you!
Creating color schemes and a mood board will support your vision, as well as the vision of others.
Many of your clients already have an idea in their head, and this is when the collaboration of beautiful minds begins. Most likely your client will provide you samples, and examples, and many times they already have a rough draft prepared for you. All ingredients for a design masterpiece!
For those of you who are entrepreneurs, and creatives, this is a way for you to build a strong and memorable brand, a digital storytelling that aligns with the psychology of color that benefits your tribe, message, and community.
Color is powerful.
So, make sure you do your research, the colors that you love, and resonate with, may repel others! match your vision, and mission with an alluring palette that encourages your community to listen to your message, follow as well as buy.
As an instructional designer, I take my time to connect with my client wants and needs, not only around form and function, but the colors themselves. So below I have created a step by step tutorial, to show you how to master and create a color palette or mood board from a piece of inspiration, image or design element.
With that said, let’s get started! Let’s make your mark matter.
To get the creative flow going, I have created some examples of color palette and mood boards. Using my own branding as an example as well as a few others to draw inspiration from.
You will need the following tools, elements and programs for this tutorial!
- Adobe Creative Cloud (TRIAL/PAID) CLICK HERE
- Canva (FREE/PAID) CLICK HERE
- PicMonkey (FREE/PAID) CLICK HERE
Stock Images: Resources listed below
I will be creating the mood board/color palette in Canva. Canva is an online digital graphic design program for your desktop/laptop and iPad! So, before we start, make sure you sign up for a FREE or Paid account.
Example 1: Awaken The Muse® & T. Raven Meyer Brand
This is an example of my branding and color palette. I choose warm and rich earth tones to promote wellness and tranquility. A color palette that conveys my work as an Eastern medicine practitioner, and midwife as well as a designer. Besides a color scheme I added images of inspiration, exactly what I do for my clients.
Example 2: Feminine Palette
This color palette is more of a feminine theme, with spring colors.
Example 3: Autumn Warmth Color Palette
This example palette if full of warm golden tones
Example 4: Global Color Palette
Deeper tones, a more masculine color scheme, or perhaps Industrial.
Example 5: True Blue Palette
A color palette of cooling blues.
First, let’s start with an image for inspiration. If you have an image or photo already, great! If not, please follow these simple steps.
Royalty Free images are the type of images you want to use for promotional materials and advertisement. These images are safe, which means you will not be charged with copyright infringement. Don’t use Google Images, you could be fined up to $10,000 USD for using images that you do not have rights to. So please, use images from sites like the examples I provided below, I have listed sites that have FREE images as well!
With social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest where reposting, and sharing, is the norm. Remember that many of those images are copyrighted, I spend a lot of money on royalty free images, so protect yourself as well as your art.
Your photos and images are sacred, especially if you are the photographer, so be aware and respect others the way you want your media and property respected, a win win!
Royalty Free Stock Image Resources
If you are new to using stock image resources, don’t fret! Just search for the images or elements you need. For example, if you are creating a travel or destination theme, search ‘Travel’ or a country. Then images will show up in relation to your search term or keywords. Choose the image, and download to your device.
Click any of the resources below in ORANGE
*I suggest editing your images with PicMonkey. A free or paid tool for your desktop and mobile devices.
I use Adobe Color to create my color palettes. A free color wheel tool created by Adobe to identify and create beautiful and accurate pallets, with a spectrum tool. This will give you the color codes/HEX code needed to create your swatches.
Firstly, go to Adobe Color Wheel
*If you don’t have an Adobe Creative Cloud account you can create a TRIAL here: CLICK HERE
Upload Your Image
Once your image is uploaded into the color wheel, you will see a legend box on the left side of the page, this is the ‘Color Mood’ bar. Within that bar, you can click on the different moods which will show you different hues, and tones that make up your image.
Over the image, itself you will see circles. Those circles choose the color, feel free to move them with your cursor, and choose the right color for you! Experiment. If you want to start over, hit the back button, or upload the image again.
HEX COLOR CODES
Now that you are happy with the palette you’ve chosen, let’s get those HEX codes. This is important. You want to be consistent with your branding colors and theme, the HEX codes are numbers you will import into your graphic design programs when you develop print materials, and marketing pieces. These codes will create your swatches for your color pallet.
In the top right corner of your screen you will see a color wheel or a spectrum wheel. Click It.
This will reveal the color scheme and color rules, choose from:
For my demonstration, I chose ‘Deep’ from the original color mood and kept it on custom within the color rule. For teaching purposes, please test all the color schemes and rules, it shows you a variety and an array of colors to choose from when designing. I always return to the Adobe Color Wheel for further HEX codes, so that my branding colors align with my marketing.
*After you have decided on your HEX Codes, put them in a safe place. Create a word or text file and save it. You will refer back to these codes when designing and branding.
Now we will head over to www.canva.com. Within this graphic design program, we will create the layout for our palette or mood board. Have your images, and HEX color codes available.
*If you haven’t set up a Canva account CLICK HERE
Choose Your Template
On the home page of Canva you will see in the top header an array of templates. Please choose the ‘Social Media’ template for this demonstration.
Choose Your Layout and Grid
From the left side bar, choose ‘Elements’, then choose ‘Grids’. From there you will see a variety of grid layouts. Choose a layout for your palette, be mindful of how many colors and images you want to showcase. When you choose your perfect layout, name and save your project.
Upload your image
From the left side bar, choose ‘UPLOADS’. Upload the image of your choice. Once your image is uploaded, then choose your image and place it on desired space within the grid. I like to use the larger squares for the main inspired image or element, play around with it, you can always modify it later.
Many times, when I am designing with Canva I have several projects open at once. This allows me to create multiple pieces, save, and upload when I need to. So, for this demonstration I suggest you keep two Canva windows open, one for the pallet template and one for your swatch template. I will be moving in-between both for the tutorial.
Let’s create our color swatches!
From your current page, move upwards to the left, and right click on the Canva logo, open link in new tab or window. This can only be done from a desktop or laptop, if using an iPad, you must re-create images one by one, and save them to your hard drive.
Now that you have returned to the home page, choose the ‘Social Media’ template again. The next step is to choose ‘Background’ from the left side panel. Then click the ‘+’ symbol. Here is where you will add your HEX code, the color code from your color wheel. Copy and paste your HEX code into the color code section of Canva. The background of your template will instantly change.
Name and save your swatch image. Download it to your device or hard drive. Repeat the steps for each color swatch. Once you have created and downloaded all your swatches move on to the next step!
Putting it all together!
Yeah, nearly finished!
So, you have your color swatches made, and saved. Hopefully you created a file that is easy to locate. Something along the lines of brand_swatch1.jpeg as an example.
I create files for each project and client, so I’m not searching through a mess of files on my hard drive. With that said, let’s finish this project.
Going back to the palette template, I want you to upload each swatch as an image. From your palette template, click on the ‘Upload’ and from there you can add your color swatches. Place them where ever you want within the palette.
Then Boom! You are done! You can add any extra elements and text from Canva, they offer a wicked array of design tools! You can also make larger pieces as well. I created this demo with a standard 800 x 800 pixel for social media. But please, use your own dimensions and search through the pre-made templates as well. Canva is my go to mobile design tool!
I hope this mini design tutorial helps you design on the fly. My personal branding mood board was created in Canva as well as Photoshop. Canva allows you to create your own branded templates, so please design with ease, and enjoy the creative outlet. When I started design school in 2002 I created all my color palette and materials boards from scratch, with fabrics, textiles and paint! I love both. And you will do both, for today I’ve taught you how to do it digitally! You can easily convert your organic board to a digital board by taking pictures of your materials and uploading them as finished images.
If you enjoyed this mini design boot camp, and want some more! Sign up for my courses with my digital arts program: Awaken The Muse® Design School!
T. Raven Meyers
*Please leave comments if you need support or have suggestions on tutorials. I am here to teach, so just ask!