A step by step guide to make a color scheme with an accent.

Neutrals make great backgrounds for information and images. If you have a nice set of neutrals any color accent will look good with it, a bit like vanilla ice cream with a cherry, a pistachio or a piece of chocolate – they are all delicious. What you can make could look like this:


Process overview:
1. pick a neutral light color to start with
2. create close variations of that color
3. add an accent color
4. add a shadow color for text


Process Details:
1. Pick a light neutral color to start with.
That sounds easier than it is. Neutrals are difficult to judge and the differences between them are often only visible when you put them next to each other. Also here you are interested in almost whites and almost perfect grey colors. To make your life easier pick a neutral color from an image. Google helps with a ton of ice cream photos – avoid the brightly colored ice creams though. Alternatively the sandy beach and the tide image below provide a wide range of warm and cold neutrals.

Photos by Arjen Benders 2005

2. Create close variations of your light neutral color.

There are several possibilities to create a group of very close variations. Select colors which differ in color, saturation and lightness. You can pick several colors from the same area of an image or use a color picker to alter color values. Photoshop’s ‘variations’ offer a range of automated variations. Alternatively use genopal online www.genopal.com  which gives you control over the suggested variations.


3. Add an accent color.

This bit actually is easier than it sounds, almost any color will do. Choose a color with a medium saturation level. If you need some inspiration, pick one of the neutrals and see what happens when the saturation value is increased.



4. Add a shadow color.

The shadow color becomes your ‘black’.  The shadow is mainly used as a text color. Pick any of your previous colors, neutral or accent and alter the L slider, so that you get a very rich dark color which makes everything else look good.