Make better images: Colour

Maximise your palettes with these 10 tips for staying colour correct.

01 Pare it down
If your design or illustration is lacking impact, one thing to consider is that it may have too many colours competing for attention. Images can often be strengthened by drastically reducing the colour palette to one, two or even three main colours.

02 Using white
Turn the negative space in a design into a subtle image, such as a shape or outline, to create a clever but simple look. This is especially useful for logo designs or screen-prints, where you're likely to be charged for each colour you use.

03 Paper is a colour, too
When creating artwork destined for print, it's easy to simply design it on a white background simulating normal stock. But stocks can vary in colour and ink absorption. Experiment with different colours, from subtle off-white shades to vibrant hues, and try rough, uncoated stock.

04 Knockout solutions
Understanding how print works can give you a broader palette to work with. Overprinting colours, especially spot colours, and knocking out others can create an additional range of tones you may not have been aware of. Talk to your printer to find out more.

05 Colour inspiration
If you're lacking colourful ideas for your design or illustration, try flicking through some home decorating and style magazines. They often have sumptuous examples of carefully considered rooms oozing with inspired colour themes.

06 Cooler Kuler
Is your colour palette not quite gelling? Perhaps you need some science from Adobe to help create a cohesive colour theme. Using rules, such as Analogous or Complementary, themes can be generated from a single colour or an image and exported to work seamlessly with Adobe's products.

07 Greyscale with colour
If your black and white images are lacking a bit of pop, try adding a subtle amount of colour back in. If your image was colour to begin with, try desaturating your image to almost zero so that subtle tones exist. For greyscale images, try using duotones or tritones.

08 Design for the visually impaired
Eight percent of males (but only 0.5 percent of females) are colour blind to some degree, usually red-green colour blindness. If you are creating an infographic or graph that uses colours to distinguish important facts, ensure it can be understood by everyone!

09 Seeing the same
Colour Management sounds like a can of worms, and sometimes it can be. But the goal is a good one: to ensure that what you see on your computer screen is the same as what everyone else sees. Initial steps, such as sticking to sRGB for web-destined images, are pretty simple to add to your workflow.

10 CMYK Conversion Conundrum
When working on RGB print documents in Photoshop, select View>Proof Setup>Working CMYK. This setting makes sure you get a true representation of the final output colours, while ensuring you can still utilise Filter menu options.