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Understanding and working with colors

Those of you who have worked with color will know: it's not all black and white. There are technical aspects to understand and manage, in order to obtain good and professional results, such as codes, the emotions they transmit, the environment in which you work, the client's sector, trends...

The choice of a color for a product, a space, labels, packaging, graphic elements or anything else, involves having to evaluate different factors. In our case, in product design, the client's sector can set certain bases.

Working with codes

Color codes are ways of representing colors, from the famous Pantone to Ral, HEX, RGB, NCS, CMYK, HTML, etc.

The HEX is the most famous, they are composed of three bytes of hexadecimal numbers, that is, composed of six digits. Each pair of these digits, or each byte, represents an intensity of red, green, and blue respectively.


Thus, for example, the color white is the result of the mixture of these three primary colors in their maximum intensity, and its code is #FFFFFFFF. On the contrary, black is the absence of color, it is the mixture of the three primaries in its lowest intensity, and its hex code is #000000.

There are infinite colors, but unfortunately we do not have access to all of them, depending on the sector we will have a range and a code to which we will have to adapt and which will limit our freedom of choice. These limitations will produce variations from the color chosen in a code to the final one.

Código pantone y HEX, tabla y caracteríisticas

Working with emotions

Emotions are also linked to colors. They transmit values such as professionalism, elegance, modernity, exclusivity, durability, adaptability and so on. It is important to know what we want to convey, to understand how the competition does it and what needs the customer has. The competitive analysis will help us to know how to stand out and to what extent.

Choosing the right color, its shade and tonality, will help us not to make a mistake in what we transmit. Although red can be a passionate and energetic color, the extent to which we use it, how or even how much, can cause rejection. The same happens with blue, black, and green. etc. It is important to make real-size proofs, prints, or photorealistic images.

  • White. It transmits purity, elegance, and cleanliness. It is optimal for health sectors.

  • Black. Conveys elegance, authority, sophistication.

  • Red. Energy, excitement, passion.

  • Green. It is the color par excellence of environmentalism. It transmits wealth, prosperity.

  • Orange. It is an ideal color for communication, optimism and inspiration.

  • Blue. It transmits confidence, maturity, security.

  • Yellow. It is a positive color, it transmits stimulation and closeness.

  • Purple. Elegant, delicate and luxurious.

Working with the environment

It is also important to know what the environment of our design is going to be: interior or exterior, bright or dark, with cold or warm lights... all this will have a direct impact on the selected color and may suffer undesired transformations. Lights are capable of producing numerous shades. Your chromaticity temperature is measured in Kelvin and varies between 1800 and 16000 K. The higher the value, the whiter or cooler the light, and vice versa.

  • Warm white. Between 2700 and 3500 K. These bulbs, called classic, are the ones that will provide more yellow or even orange tones to the chosen base color.

  • Neutral white. Between 4500 and 6500 K. It tends towards the white light, and the more it increases, it can bring a little blue. These are shades that provide concentration and do not tire the eyes.

  • Cool white. Between 6500 and 9000 K. It brings a lot of blue to the base colors and tends to be unpleasant to the eyes.

Working with trends

Finally, it is important to understand trends and their expiration date. To stand out today giving the sensation of modernity can change in a short time, transforming into the opposite and giving an old or outdated sensation.

In 2022, colors related to calm and nature are trendy, highlighting low saturated colors, even pastels. In graphic design, these colors will be present in packaging, labels, posters, and brochures... In addition, monochromatic designs have become an undeniable trend, which has numerous benefits, such as creating a harmonious and consistent design or associating a brand to a specific color. Another trend is to use flat colors that will generate comfort to the eye. They allow you to create fresh, subtle and neutral designs.

But as we say, it is important in product design, not to follow trends, and to keep in mind the sector for which you are working, in order to achieve a timeless design that does not expire with fashions.

With all this, it is not strange to choose a color for a graphic or interior design in a certain Pantone code, transform it to another code, RAL for example, and have a bittersweet sensation. Moreover, when we install it in our space and study the incidence of light, the final result may change to a color that differs greatly from the one selected at first. The surprise can vary between: "it looks better, it is different, but I like it", or producing a completely negative sensation. Experience allows us to anticipate the latter situation and work comfortably with colors in our sector.

And you, do you feel comfortable working with colors?

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