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Understanding Design Basics of Color For Digital Scrapbooks


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In creating scrapbook pages, whether digital or traditional, the most important thing is design. While design encompasses many aspects, color is often the most misused. Without the understanding of how colors work together pages may tend to distract from the intended focal point or center piece. You will want the reader's eyes to focus on one or two main items or follow the flow of the page. How the page flows is crucial because it determines what items readers will tend to notice and in the order you intended them to be seen. When used properly, color can be used to direct reader's attention toward key items in your pages or guide them through your creation.

The first thing that must be stated is what color is, or where it comes from. Color is simply light. You can notice this by shining light through a prism. The color of an object is determined by how it absorbs or reflects light. When light hits an object, the object will absorb the colors in the light except one. This is the color that you see. So, a red object absorbs light and reflects red. It is also important to note that black and white are not colors. They are either the absence of or fullness of color. Black is the absence of color; turn the light off in a room and what do you get, dark (black). White is the fullness of color; an object that absorbs light without reflecting any one color will appear white. It has all of the colors in it. Some people tend to get this backwards because when you mix colors you get a dark brown or black color, never white. Gray is produced by combining black and white while brown is multiple colors together (but not all).

Colors are often referred to as either primary or secondary. Primary colors are the building blocks for all other colors and are red, blue and yellow. Secondary colors are the color produced by equal amounts of the primary colors. The secondary colors are orange (red plus yellow), green (blue plus yellow) and purple (red plus blue). It is important to know the difference between primary and secondary colors because it will help you determine what colors go well together.

If you have not seen a color wheel, which lays out the primary and secondary colors, you will want to search the internet for a picture of a color wheel. Colors that are near to each other on the color wheel will coordinate well together. Opposite colors will create a contrast which can draw the attention of the reader to a specific point. Warm colors (red, yellow, orange) go well together and tend to imply excitement or activity. Cool colors (blues and greens), which also go well together, tend to produce a feeling of calm or relaxation. It is also interesting to note that extroverted (outgoing) people tend to prefer warm colors while introverted (more reserved) people lean more toward cool colors. Place a cool colored item on an overall warm page will cause the readers eyes to focus on it. The contrast will cause the item to stand out.

In the use of colors and design, it is important to keep the number of colors limited. Having too many different colors will make the page too busy. Try to limit the design to a small handful of colors (two or three) with one or two opposite colors for contrast.

Wesley Skiles is creator of and posts articles weekly concerning various aspects of the hobby.


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