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Use Basic Color Theory to Make Your Business Card Pop

Posted on: October 4th, 2012 by No Comments

Not everyone is a born Picasso or Rembrandt, but everyone CAN learn basic artistic principles that can enhance the appearance of any design project. Here, we’ll talk about how you can use basic knowledge of the color wheel to make your business card more appealing to the eye, more likely to attract its recipient’s sustained attention, and therefore more likely to be an effective call to action.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are colors that are direct opposites of one another. A pair of complementary colors includes a primary color (like red) and the secondary color that results by mixing the other two primary colors (green, the result of mixing yellow and blue). That means that all of the pigments in one are absent in the other, and vice versa. When you use pairs of complementary colors in your business card design, you are guaranteed to achieve a result that will play with the viewer’s vision. The effect is striking, and can even be jarring. It’s good when you’re looking for a high energy effect – not so good if you’re going for a soothing feel.foil stamped, silk laminate business cards

Analogous Colors

When you take a bunch of colors that neighbor each other on the color wheel, you end up with what’s called “analogous” color sets. These color pairings appear natural and soothing because they’re often present in nature. Look at a leaf or the bark of a tree, for example. We often think of both of things as being  composed of solid colors, but in reality, there are several different, but “analogous” hues present in each. Lighter greens, darker greens, and perhaps some yellowish-greens may all be present on the same leaf; the tree bark undoubtedly offers a similar situation. So when you are looking for a soothing effect in your business card design – if you’re, say, a medical professional, a therapist, a masseuse, or even an accountant who wants to convey a sense of calm, using analogous color schemes in your business card design is a good idea.

Complex Color Pairings

Full color business cards, high gloss UV, EliteFlyers.comYou can combine colors on the color wheel in a multitude of ways to achieve a host of effects. Some examples include the “triadic color scheme,” where you basically draw a triangle over the color wheel to find three colors that are evenly spaced across the color wheel. This will be an energetic grouping – let one color dominate and use the others to support your business card design. A “split-complementary” color scheme would mean pairing one color and the two colors on either side of its complement on the color wheel. So, for example, red would be paired with a mild blue and yellow instead of green. The effect here is striking, but not as jarring as it is when you use direct complements. Then there are the square and rectangular color schemes, which result from – you guessed it – drawing either a square or a rectangle on top of the color wheel and using the four colors that fall under the corners. These schemes guarantee a balance between warm and cool hues – just be sure that you use them in balanced amounts in your design!

All of these exercises in color theory are exactly that – exercises. They’re a wonderful place to start, but the final tinkering has to come after you have designed the rest of your business card. Play with not only the colors themselves but the saturations of each to ensure that your card sends the message you want to convey before sending your design to print with us at Elite Flyers – and don’t forget to incorporate striking elements like foil stamping if they serve your intended purpose. And don’t forget, if all this is too much for you to think about at the end of the day, you can always hire a design professional to do the delicate job for you.