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emeraldas

Color schemes / Theme colors

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For anyone who does any kind of modification to their themes: how do you figure out what color scheme you want? Do you go into things with an idea of "I want warm/cool/pastel/dark colors"? Or do you just play around with things until something looks right? If you use a palette generator, what do you use?

 

It really depends on what I'm doing, for me. Sometimes I have a really good idea of what my theme/colors are going to be, and I'll make swatches (with hex codes) so I can grab the colors easily. Sometimes I start with the background image and figure out a palette from there. The thing I'm currently working on, though... I have no idea what to do. Light? Dark? Low contrast? Unsaturated? Who knows. 

For making palettes, I usually either use Paletton or just make something in Photoshop.

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I normally base my theme on my header as that's what makes everything cohesive. The header is often what I would spend the most time on so that I can develop the colors based on that.

 

If I'm just making a theme I normally use https://www.colourlovers.com/ to get a palette base before I add and adjust to my liking, or http://paletton.com

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It depends on the site I'm making it for, because what colours I use depends on the site environment and mood. If there's something tense going on in the overall plot, I may go with purples or reds. If it's cheerier, I may go with golds or brown. Mostly I'll start with the base colours and these are always charcoals or silvers, and that's my main tone. Most of the rest spawn off that one, so I've got like four different shades of dark grey depending on my needs, and then I toss in splashes of colour. I don't overload colour, because I aim to create themes that are visible enough regardless of the vision capabilities, or incapabilities, of the viewer. So we have strong contrasts and if I use commonly problematic colours like red, it's a wildly different shade than the dark greys or silvers it exists around so that viewers that are colourblind can see it.

 

I create themes for sites, for ideas and concepts, rather than as standalone designs. Because I feel like the site theme and overall UX design can make or break a site, like that is the first thing people are going to see and interact with, and the idea is to tie it into the game and make it as immersive as the rest, to make the way the navigation and layout elements connect feel like an extension of the site's overall environment. The idea is smooth flow, colours that work together and probably evoke some sort of a feeling (I have studied and restudied colour theory and how colours affect mood and temperament over and over and over to nail this down, so no I'm not just throwing colours together, there's a reason for every shade I choose), with good contrast and visibility. So when I make a theme that isn't for a specific site I think, Hmm, what kind of feeling do I want to impress with this theme? What ideas am I trying to evoke? And then I decide what colours go best with that goal.

 

I know I take this way too seriously, but also I sell my themes, and tbh it was my biggest money-maker for four years, so I guess it makes sense. lol

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1 hour ago, Arceus said:

I create themes for sites, for ideas and concepts, rather than as standalone designs. Because I feel like the site theme and overall UX design can make or break a site, like that is the first thing people are going to see and interact with, and the idea is to tie it into the game and make it as immersive as the rest, to make the way the navigation and layout elements connect feel like an extension of the site's overall environment. The idea is smooth flow, colours that work together and probably evoke some sort of a feeling (I have studied and restudied colour theory and how colours affect mood and temperament over and over and over to nail this down, so no I'm not just throwing colours together, there's a reason for every shade I choose), with good contrast and visibility. So when I make a theme that isn't for a specific site I think, Hmm, what kind of feeling do I want to impress with this theme? What ideas am I trying to evoke? And then I decide what colours go best with that goal.

 

That's a really good point. (Also everything you said about designing with differences in vision in mind is 💯) I've studied basic color theory, but I tend to be a little more on the... intuitive? end? when it comes to what colors I think give me a certain mood. I also tend to do what Morrigan said and start with my header/background/main graphic and pull colors from there. I don't always refer back to actual color theory, but maybe I should start doing that more. 

 

And that doesn't sound like taking it too seriously - that just sounds like best practices for a designer to me!

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I do, yes, take a screen-cap of my themes and make everything black and white via Photoshop filter, and then adjust problematic colours. If I can't see it in black and white, then users probably also can't see it if they perceive that colour differently. It's a decent sweep-check for most colourblindness types.

 

The thing with colour associations is that I think it's all perception anyway, as many people get different feelings from the same colours, and longer exposure times to it can also change how one perceives that colour. For instance, many people find black to be empowering and mysterious, but many others find it scary and imposing. Yellow is perky and energising, but over a long period of time can cause anxiety and tenseness. It's about balancing colours so that they don't overload over time. And the same people can perceive the same colours differently depending on how their life is going at the time and what mood they're in. It's really both an objective and subjective thing at once, so I think relying too much on either method isn't good, because both have a place and merit. It's good to have a science-backed place to start, but don't ignore your gut, either. c:

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Ooh, going back to monochrome is a good idea. I usually start out with monochrome when I'm doing digital painting to get the values more or less in the right range, but I hadn't thought of doing it afterwards/for a theme. 

 

Yeah, what our brains do with color is... sort of endlessly fascinating. (And then there's the whole "do purple and magenta even exist?" quandary.)

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