Color Theory for Presentations: How to Choose the Perfect Color Palette for Your Slides – Part 21

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DEF M2L11 Color Palette

In this lesson we have to learn a little bit of color theory for presentations, just the basics in order to start using color more appropriately.

Sometimes, we can let our topic decide our color palette. Let’s say that we have to talk about money, maybe we can use the color green. Sometimes, we can choose it based on our audience. If you are presenting at a certain cola company, we can turn our slides red. But to understand which color to use, we have to know this conventional display of colors, that is called the color wheel, plus another 4 colors that complement it.

Colors have meanings, and these meanings are associated with how we perceive the colors in the West and western culture, and they vary a lot; they are not unequivocal. These meanings are, for instance, that red stands for love and energy, and yellow stands for hunger and happiness, and this is why McDonald’s uses red and yellow. Or that orange stands for wealth, so this is why Ing Direct Bank and Easy Jet, a lowcost airline, both use that kind of color.

The colors that are on the right, they are also as important because if we think about the use of the color white in technology right now, or for instance, also in technology, about the color gray, that is neutral and practical, this is really important. Or if you think about the combination of black and white and gray that is very much used at the moment, you can see that those are perfect complements to the more emotional aspect of the colors in the color wheel.

Now, you should ask: how do you mix colors? Well, thank you for the question. There are two basic ways to mix colors: the first one is to look for the neighboring colors. For instance, if we look at the orange together with the yellow, they blend very nicely. If you want to create a palette where the colors go well together, you can use that.

But sometimes, you need contrast, for instance, when you want something to stand out. Or, let’s say that you are creating a webpage and you want to create a button. If that page is blue, your color should better be red. You travel all the way across the color wheel and find the opposite. White, black, and gray go well with all the colors on the color wheel.

We can look at them right now. But be aware that there are a few exceptions, because sometimes you don’t get the right contrast. That’s the rule, but there are some exceptions.

If you are intimidated by the use of different colors, I have a trick for you. Just pick one color that you like and start reducing the tint progressively and you will obtain similar colors that go perfectly well together.

But you know what’s another trick? It’s that you don’t need to invent your own color palette because someone has done it for you already. Introducing Go to colorlovers and you can search millions of palettes by keyword, or even better, browse all-time favorites. And you can browse palettes that have been commented on, favorited, embedded by thousands of people. So, these are palettes that are proven to be liked by your audience.

What I want to tell you to conclude is that, yes, you need to know the basics of color theory. But the most important thing is to start having fun with color and getting playful with it because it can drive a lot of meaning as long as you feel more comfortable with it.


  • Don’t be afraid of color, just learn the basics, and learn how to play with it

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