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Designing with analogous colors 

analogous color designs
If used effectively, color is a powerful tool in design. Color can do many things, it can set a mood, add excitement or highlight areas of a design that need attention. Using a variety of shades and tones of one color from the color wheel will add even more impact. Using these types of colors in design is called analogous design.

Analogous colors are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. If you are looking to create your own color combination, analogous color schemes are fun and easy to achieve and will add a rich and united look to your design. These color schemes tend to have the same chroma level but vary because they are slightly different shades and tones.  To create this color scheme you’ll need to select three colors, start with the color you want to be dominant and then select one additional color from each side of the dominant color.

If you are designing a website, in most cases you will use the main dominant, bold or primary color for your headlines, the lightest color for backgrounds and the midtown color as an accent color. This design rule is only a guide, so feel free to experiment until you find a look that works for your personal taste. You may find that that having a more monotoned, pastel-like, color selection works better for your design. This type of analogous color design was called High-Key analogous and were popular among the Impressionist painters like Degas, Pissarro and Monet.

Analogous color combinations are found frequently in nature and it’s easy to find inspiration by simply taking a look out your window. Here are a few analogous color combinations that I’ve put together with some images found in nature. Feel free to use any of these color schemes or use them as inspiration to create your analogous designs.

Bold analogous colors are powerful and exciting

red analogous colors

Monotoned pastel analogous colors are called High-Key

high-key analogous colors

Bright pastels can add some liveliness or femininity to your design

bright pastel anagolous

Muted analogous hues are perfect for creating an earthy feel

earthy analogous colors

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Susan Sullivan

Graphic Design. I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area with my husband and children. I am an avid distance runner, environmentalist, part-time beekeeper, chicken farmer and amateur photographer.

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