A few months back, I was decorating my office — and choose the most outrageously-boring colour available…white. Why? Because as designers, we should be very articulate with our use of colour. The colour we see on our screens can appear to be directly influenced with the colours that surround our peripheral vision.
For example, if you are designing a poster for a client, which includes images of white snow, you may end up editing the image with a slight blue tint if your surrounding walls are also blue. Why? Because your eyes will adjust to a alternate white point.
To illustrate this, look at the image below. The green bars at the top should look slightly darker than the ones below (dependent on your screen/monitor). This is due to a phenomenon called metamerism, whereby the surrounding colours directly ‘interfere’ with the appearance of another.
To check that the greens are the same colour, just do a screen grab and use the colour-drop tool in Photoshop or similar program. Cool eh? So the next time you are contemplating decorating your office, I urge you to consider using a neutral colour. Grey is best, but for me, at least white is bright and clean.
Obviously, many surrounding artifacts and images could impair your colour-judgement, so here another three tips (apart from the paintwork) to avoid bad design:
1. Don’t have a colourful desktop background.
2. Don’t have colourful posters or images in plain sight.
3. Don’t stick yellow/pink Post-it-Notes® to your screen-edge.
I’ll be writing some more articles soon about the use of colour in graphic design. Why not subscribe to my feed so you don’t miss them? Do you have any bad experiences with colour whilst designing? Is your office pink with blue stripes? If so, please leave your thoughts below…