Get your Priorities Straight (Choosing a Major, Minor & Accent Color)
Hello everyone and welcome to the July Bootcamp! It’s hard to believe we’re half way through the year and already on our 7th Bootcamp. This month we’re going to delve back into the topic of color. If you missed the very first Bootcamp in January where we talked about the Color Wheel, how colors relate to each other and how you can use it to help you choose effective color combinations you can check it out here.
When it comes to color one of the most common questions is ‘How Many Colors Should I use in My Design’? As you might guess there really is no right answer to this question and an experienced designer can get away with almost any number of colors, but generally speaking the risk of combining too many colors and ending up with a busy or chaotic result is much greater than using too few colors. As you may recall from the ABC’s of Color Bootcamp it’s completely possible to make a good design using variations (tints, tones and shades) of a single hue and this Monochromatic Color Harmony is one of the easiest to manage. It’s also interesting to note that the CAS (clean and simple) designs many of us admire often contain only 2-3 colors.
A three color combination is a good starting point for any design. It’s enough to create variation and give a design visual interest but still easy to manage. Once you’ve chosen your colors you won’t want to use them in equal amounts so you’ll need to prioritize them and assign each one the role of Major, Minor or Accent color. There is a simple and time-tested rule to distributing them that is referred to as the 60-30-10 Formula (or rule). The numbers refer to the percentage of each color you’ll want to use. The Major Color should cover about 60% of the space which will unifying the design. By then adding about 30% of the Minor Color you will create contrast and visual interest and finally using about 10% of the Accent Color will provide finishing touches and define details in your design. As is the case with all the concepts we’ve talked about you will see them applied to most every design discipline and this rule is very commonly used and discussed in the home decorating industry too.
Let’s take a look at some card samples that apply the 60-30-10 rule to their colors. I have added a ‘color graph’ to the bottom of each of these to help illustrate the 60-30-10 color distirbution.
Sample Card by Penny
Sample Card by Julie
Sample Card by Yolanda
Sample Card by Barbara M.
Sample Card by Dixie
Sample Card by Barb H.
Okay, so I suspect some of you will now ask… can I only use 3 colors in the 60-30-10 rule? My response would be that while there is some leeway and you could potentially add a small amount of another color if you needed it for contrast, the best way to make the formula work is to primarily stick with 3 colors in these approximate percentages. As you can see from these fabulous examples limiting your design to 3 colors can result in beautifully balanced, bold, crisp designs and really isn’t limiting at all.
Your assignment is to choose one of the combinations used in the sample cards or choose from the additional mixes and create a card to share with everyone here. You may link up more than once as long as the card relates directly to the lesson. Everyone who participates in the Design Bootcamp by linking up a card created for the class will receive a Class Summary in PDF format via email.