Creating Color Palettes for After Effects Templates And Beyond

  • By: Marc Eijkelenboom
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I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. – Alice Walker

Color is huge! If I would have to say what the most important elements of design are, it would be something like: color, composition and typography.

If you are active in any sort of visual design field color palettes are one of the main elements that can make or break a great design, so it’s important to know what we are talking about!

When I first started designing and I had to pick a color palette, I would randomly move around on the color wheel until I would come across some colors that looked nice together. Sometimes it worked but most of the time it didn’t. Luckily that’s not the only way of approaching creating color palettes, there’s a method to the madness!

The Color Wheel

The color wheel is by far the best way to visualize colors.
Isaac Newton was the guy who came up with the first version of the color wheel and it was a wheel made out of 12 colors. Primary, secondary and tertiary colors. Through time it has evolved into the smooth color wheel we see inside our graphic applications today. 

Complimentary, monochromatic and what..? 

So how do you go about creating a nice palette out of the millions of different shades of colors? Obviously you choose one color you want to start with, but how to quickly find some other colors that go together well without having to spend hours roaming the color wheel. Well there are a lot of different tricks to match colors and we’ll talk about a couple of them: Complimentary colors, monochromatic colors and analogues colors. If you use these ‘tricks’ when picking colors to match your base color you will always come up with good results.

The complimentary color of your main color lives across the road from your main color on the color wheel. So if the main color is red, the complimentary color will be green, if you main color is yellow the complimentary color will be blue. 

This goes for all the shades in between those two main colors. If you start with a couple shades of red you can choose a couple of different shades of green and you will have made yourself a sweet color scheme!

Less in more! That pretty much sums up the theory behind Monochromatic color schemes. Monochromatic colors are a great way making a color scheme. A monochromatic color scheme consists out of multiple shades of 1 color.
A good thing to do with monochromatic colors is add black and white and grey and you will have a nice colors palette.

Analogues colors schemes are another great way of combining colors. Analogues colors are 3 different colors that are located next to each other on the color wheel.

A great example of an Analogue scheme is the Mona Lisa. 

Pictures, apps and websites. 

The best color pickers are your own eyes! The world is filled with the most inspirational color combinations. From nature to buildings to advertisements, we are surrounded by colors. So what better way to just snap a picture of a nice color combination and grab the colors from there.

There are a bunch of apps and websites where you can create color palettes from a color wheel or from photo’s. One to mention in particular is Kuler from Adobe. Its a great website where you can upload your own pictures and extract color palettes, browse other people’s palettes or create your own.

Another great feature in Kuler is that you can export the palette as an .ase file which you can import in After Effects using this script Chameleon – Adobe Kuler Color Theme Browser.
This way you can keep your palette close in After Effects to use throughout the design of your templates!

About the Author:

"Marc Eijkelenboom works as a freelance motion graphic designer.
Besides his day to day design work he also loves creating After Effects Templates.
When he is not working on his own business he spends his time roaming the globe."

Marc sells After Effects Templates on RevoStock as "The Giant Eye."  To see his use of color in action, view some of his templates now.