Choosing colours

Colours of the rainbow
Graze from rage to royal
Beauty on eyes they bestow
Passions inside us they boil

What colour? by Christopher O Driscoll @ iStockphoto

We don’t have a graphic designer in the office. So it’s up to the individual developer to come up with graphics, styles and design. Well, you can imagine the look of the applications created. My colleagues and I try to assuage the situation by making sure our own applications look decent.

Without much training or good image editing software available, there’s only so much we could do. Swathes of colour, cool looking fonts and some simple images. Luckily I have Paint.NET to tide over some pixel operations.

Anyway, I have to choose colours fairly often. The colour of the text, that of the background, and that border lining. CSS does an amazing simplication for web applications. It can’t tell me what colours to use though.

I wrote about my agony over web safe colours before. This is like a continuation of sorts. So for colour selection, there’s the colour wheel and rectangular blocks of colour arranged in a grid according to red, green and blue values.

The thing with swathes of colour is that, they are continuous. Trying to decide which of two close points on the colour wheel give a better “feeling” makes my head hurt. So I have this handy colour chart to help with at least coming up with a starting colour. Please have a look before reading on.

Alright, so the colours defined by the KnownColor enumeration in .NET framework don’t form any kind of standard. You’re missing the point. I use them as a starting point, sometimes even as the colour I want. Because I arranged the chart by sorting with colour names alphabetically, the colour chart displays colours with similar hues usually away from each other.

This gives my eyes distinct patches of colour to look at. I can find that exact hue I want because of the added variable of distance. With the other surrounding colours, the ideal hue sometimes jump out at me.

The problem isn’t with designing. It’s about indecision. Whether you’re designing the look of a web page or designing the code structure is secondary. Your inability to decide, stalls the project.

I’m better with writing code. I’m learning to improve my web design skills. So I wrote a program to generate a colour chart, which helps me make faster design decisions. What did you do?

  1. Kevin

    I um, just use photoshop to figure out the colors I want and implement the color’s number into the code. I can’t even imagine having to do it how you described in this post. Yikes. Of course, I do much better with the graphics side, myself, than the coding, since I got myself a graphic design degree. I tried to get one for coding too, but it made my head hurt… much like you said this does to you, lol.

    Great post. 🙂

  2. Vincent Tan

    -> Aaron: Good move. Color Schemer looks awesome. I knew I should have searched around a bit…

    -> Kevin: Photoshop’s good too. I think it’s the programmer impulse kicking in. I just *had* to implement something of my own… 🙂

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