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D M Design
specialist in business cards

specialist in business cards, specialist brochures, leaflets, letterheads, stationery, menus, specialist printing, full colour, paper napkins, specialist coasters, external signs, posters, plastic bags, promotional items

You may find this relevant information helpful

Contrast of hue

Contrast of hue is what relates most directly to colour wheel mixs . The further away from each other two colours are, the higher the contrast. This means that the complementary colour combination is has the highest contrast while the analogous combination has the lowest. For text, a contrast of hue alone is usually not enough to make the text as legible as wanted. Then you might want to combine that with some other form of contrast as well. A special case of contrast of hue is contrast of warm and cold colours. The way the human eye works cold colours appears to be more distant while warmer colours appears to be closer. This means that it is a good idea to use a warm colour for a symbol or menu, and to use the cold colours for the background.

Contrast of value

Contrast of value is very efficient creating big contrasts. The biggest contrast of them all; black and white, can really be said to be a contrast of value. Generally large difference of lightness are considered to be pleasant for the eye. But also low contrasts of value can be useful for more subtle differences in for instace a background.

Contrast of saturation

Contrast of saturation is often best for design aspects that does not requier a lot of emphasis. A set of colours with different saturation against a grey background can be interpreted as transperacy. This is something that can be used for interesting effects.

Simultaneous contrast

This is a contrast effect that is created by our eyes tendency to require a complementary colour. You can get this effect by combining two bright colours that are not complementary, or to use a single bright colour against a grey background. This gives a feeling of instability and tension, and should be used with caution.

While the contrasts above can be efficient used one at the time, the most common is to use a combination of them. Especially for text where you need a high contrast. The top picture to the left shows blue and its split complementary colour orange. This is a combination that has a high contrast of hue. This gives a rather vibrant combination that can be tiring to the eyes. By changing the value and saturation as in the next picture you will get a combination which is much more pleasing to the eye, and more readable.

Working against the natural values of the colours can often have bad effects. For example, yellow is naturally a lighter colour than its complement blue. A combination where you have a yellow that is darker than the blue would feel strange.

Green on red can be very hard to read. As can red on blue
Black on white is easy to read And so is yellow on blue

Colours and text

As mentioned above, using the right contrast is especially important for text. Using the wrong colours can decrease the readability drastically, and it will quickly tire the eyes of the reader. Highest readability have black text on white background. Black and yellow is another combination which usually has a high readability, as does blue and white. Green text on red, and red text on green are for many particularly hard to read. A combination of red and blue creates a vibrating effect that can make reading very hard.

Another thing that can be good to keep in mind when making colour selections is colour blindness. Some 8% of the population has some form of colour blindness, and by choosing the wrong colours you can make your page virtually unreadable for them. There are some colours which are worse than others, for instance red and green. Blues and yellows are usually better to use for this reason, and you should make sure that there is a strong contrast between a text and its background.

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