Look for mood, highlight and contrasting colors when selecting an image as a color source for your presentation design.
Susan says, “Choosing a color palette for a presentation is a topic that we come back to over and over again in our blog. We often suggest using a photo as a source of inspiration and to see what color combinations reality has to offer. Lucia’s moody beach study lends itself beautifully to finding an elegant color space for a formal or corporate presentation. From the unexpectedly (but not garish) rich orange and elegant blue-black, the unexpected olive green, and a subtle range of tan tones, there is plenty to use here.
Which Image Works Best as a Color Source
“But how do you pick an image that will give you a workable color space? There are three key elements that must exist if an image is to work for you: It should convey a mood that mirrors that of your presentation, contain a highlight color and a contrasting and stabilizing dark color. In this photo, as a bonus, the orange and blue are complementary colors – sitting across from one another on the color wheel – and the three tans are shades of one another, so, right away, we are complying with some elements of color theory.
“How could you best use these colors in a presentation design? A way to think about color is that it can set out the structure that contains the other images, backgrounds. shapes, and text of your presentation. Nearly every slide in a presentation contains foreground, middle, and background layers. With this palette as in the photo, each layer could be defined by its color. Once you’ve determined that the palette suits the mood of your presentation, you can begin experimenting with determining which of the highlight and contrast colors you can use for text and titles and how you want to use the more neutral colors that can serve as backgrounds, shape elements, graph elements.”
Looking Beyond the Duotone
Lucia says, “At first glance, I would say this photo is a duotone. It’s pretty much made up of two colors – bluish-gray and yellow. I like this a lot because creating a duotone can be done in post-production, but here it is in its natural form. Now, Susan has shown us that beneath the surface there are many more colors. She was able to create an elegant color palette, just from looking at this photo with a critical eye and seeing beyond the predominant duotone.
More than a Color Source
“For me, this photo is about layers, shapes, and activity. There are three layers. I like the way the wash of colors in the background blend and separate in swirls of blue and yellow. In contrast, the middle ground has definition between the colors. The dark sea stacks contain the rich brown against the gray-blue of the water. In the foreground we see the sky reflected in the sand, but not as dramatic. It’s much more subtle. You have to look closely to see the yellows and blues of the sky here.
“Now notice the contrast between the sea stacks and the seabirds. The stacks are big and stand firm in the turbulent water, while the birds are small and in motions above the waves. These are nicely placed in the frame to give a sense of balance to the whole scene.”
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