The Easiest Way to Make Color Choices
It’s hard to wait for things. Do you remember being young and waiting for that next holiday or event?
For me it was always Christmas. We’d go to visit family in Oklahoma and I still remember the agonizing nights waiting for Santa to come leave his presents.
What made matters worse is that I couldn’t open anything the next morning until our family was out of bed and gathered around the tree. Oh was it ever difficult to not just take a peek at what was waiting for me.
When you’re young, that feeling of anticipation and excitement makes even hour long waits seem like weeks.
Now that you’re older, you probably don’t experience the agonizing build up of anticipation like I did all those years ago. It’s not about birthday parties or family vacations anymore, but there’s still something magical about a big reveal.
Design is one of those things you can get really excited about. Just the thought of making something from essentially nothing is fascinating. It’s an experience unlike any other.
When you’re bringing those designs to life, color feels like the breath you need to breath into every concept. Once the colors are there, it all starts to feel complete. It’s the big reveal.
So you hurry to add colors right away. But instead of being amazed, something very unexpected happens…
Everything is slowed down. The momentum you had evaporates because… well… it just doesn’t look right yet.
So you adjust.
Then you adjust.
Then three hours later you’re still adjusting.
Here’s the simple solution:
Don’t worry about color.
Before you stare at the screen terrified, don’t worry, it’s not permanent.
Build it first, paint it later.
Color is magical. It brings your work life and it’s understandable to be a little impatient to see that happen. But sometimes important moments are best reserved for the conclusion, not the intro.
Every summer there’s a rush to at least one, if not several, movies that achieve the title “blockbuster hit”.
The really good ones take time to build characters, bring you into the story, and throw all of that into compelling and suspenseful situations that build toward a powerfully moving conclusion.
If that conclusion comes at the beginning, what’s the point of watching?
Let the magic happen at the end
When you can let go of color in the beginning, you’ll start to move faster, create more concepts, and you’ll feel amazing as you put the final touches on your work.
It feels kind of different at first, like something is missing, but once it becomes a routine you’ll start to see a big spike in creativity and speed.
Yeah, you could just add random colors in the beginning to simply “get a feel” for what will look right, but that’s a big mistake.
Random colors hurt your work more than help it.
Gray is extremely boring and if you’re anything like me it will be incredibly difficult to restrain yourself to them in the beginning.
Adding temporary filler colors can skew your perspective. They may very well become the reason you don’t like a concept or prefer one over the other.
When everything is on an even playing field, it’s easier to make decisions.
It’s not easy to move color to the end. In fact, it has been one of the hardest changes for me in over ten years of working on my process, but the results don’t lie.
When an icon is complete, there’s nothing more satisfying for me than adding color. It just makes me fall in love with it all over again.
It will feel like you’re doing your work a disservice in the beginning. It would be so much better with color!
If you’re feeling that way, you’re exactly right. How much better will your work be with color? Are you moved by the concepts you’re creating or the nice arrangement of colors you’re using?
When you can make composition and color achieve the goals and move people, you’ve entered a new level of possibilities. The quality of your work will improve and so will your stress.