Minimalism is settled very deep in my work (and also in my life).
This is one of the reasons why I only use a few colours and I try to avoid strokes, lines and gradients. In fact, the colour is one of the most important elements of my work.
The way I use colour has evolved since I started being an illustrator. Nowadays, I use a very specific workflow to choose my colour palette. I will explain the process I follow and the tools I use in this article.
We are surrounded by amazing colours. The world itself is an incredible colour palette.
I keep a colour database in Evernote with all the colours that call my attention. It includes photos, old images and work of other artists and illustrators.
My colour database is huge, and with the years, it has become one of the most important tools in my working process.
I use it as a reference tool that inspires me and guide my colour decisions.
Picking colours with Sip
Sip could be defined as the universal eyedropper of Photoshop that works anywhere outside of Photoshop.
I use it to catch any colour inside of my screen (images, files, websites or anything else). Sip lives in the menu bar and it’s extremely easy to use. You can get the colour hex value copied into your clipboard in a click, ready to be pasted in Photoshop or anywhere else.
You can also use Sip to organise your colour palettes and some other extra advanced features (which I don’t use).
Sip is free and it’s available for Mac only.
- The number of colours
When I have the idea, and after creating the guides in Photoshop, I start thinking about the number of colours the illustration will need. I try to keep the number of colours as low as possible.
- Picking guide colours from my colour database with Sip
Then I go to my colour database to find colours that may fit conceptually and formally with the illustration. When I find some of them, I use Sip to copy the colour Hex value into the clipboard.
- Creating new colours from the guide colours
When I’ve identified colours that can work and I have them into my clipboard, I go to Photoshop and I paste the hex colour code to use it. I start playing with the first shapes of the sketch and adjusting the colours inside Photoshop.
- Final colours
As the sketch evolves, the colour palette evolves too. I adjust the tones till I find a strong colour combination.
- Extra: validating the colours when the sketch is finished
Sometimes when the sketch is finished, I play around with the colours, trying to find better solutions. This is very useful because my sketches are “unpolished finals” and the impact of the colours in the sketches is very similar than how they will look like on the final.
A good colour palette has a massive impact on the final result of an illustration, especially when you have a minimalistic style and you don’t use a lot of colours. A poor or bad palette can destroy a good illustration. I’ve ruined great ideas and illustrations because a bad choice of colours. But luckily, over the years, I’ve found my workflow that helps me a lot to deal with colours.
How do you guys deal with colours? Are they important in your working process?
As always, I would love to hear your comments about it!