There’s no denying it… Bright, bold colors have been a huge trend this year—not only a 2016 web design trend, but across all mediums. This color palette is popular with good reason; when bright color pops in design, it can conjure excitement, joy and intrigue. For that reason, it’s a great skill to master as a designer.
There are many different ways to incorporate bright color into your designs. This article takes a close look at 10 different examples which accomplish just that. Enjoy!
1. All brights and white space
The street art festival poster to the left shows us an interesting way to pop some color. It features a palette filled with bright, saturated colors in similar shades.
This gives the overall design a high level of vibrancy and excitement. The dynamic illustration builds on that high energy, while the childlike style and use of mostly primary colors add a touch of nostalgia and playfulness.
It’s easy to create something overwhelming with such vivid colors, but the use of white space gives the poster room to breathe. It also offers a needed contrast and counterpoint to the intense brightness and saturation throughout the piece.
2. Color surprises
Another way to make utilize bright colors is to put them where you least expect it. Odabashian is a hand-woven rug company that makes mostly neutral colored rugs. Their tag is bright yellow and often stitched onto the bottom side of the rug.
The Odabashian brand asset featured above captures that same concept by adding a solid yellow color fill to the back of the page. When the viewer picks up this piece of paper, they assume it’s business as usual—just a traditional black and white text document. But when the page is flipped, the expansive yellow color is wildly unexpected. Talk about a great design surprise!
3. White as negative space
The Ford advertisement above features its own interesting use of bright color. The white space in the ad works as both the ground and background, creating an interesting two-dimensionality. The blue acts recessively, allowing the white “Ford” letters shine through.
But the real interest is in the bright yellow car. It pops because it’s central to the composition, the car is contrastingly 3-dimensional and nearly complementary to the blue. The Ford logo becomes secondary to the real focus—their car.
4. Color temperature
Interesting designs can be achieved through color temperature manipulation, as well. The design above features a spectrum of bright colors ranging from “cool” to “hot”. In this particular design, the hot colors come to the foreground and pop the most, while the cool colors fall to the background and feel less intense.
There are many possible explanations for this. In a visual landscape of hot and cold, it may be natural for humans to gravitate towards warmth. Warmer colors also tend to have more vibrancy and be more eye-catching that cool colors. In the example above, it may be a combination of these reasons.
5. Balancing neutrals and bright color
The example to the right explores the relationship between neutral and bright colors. In this case, the orange gradient is given a lot of space and room to breathe. The addition of color feels unexpected, so when you come across it in your visual exploration of the piece, it is exciting.
The orange letters are printed beneath varied black typographic patterns, which is a fun technique to play with. While black would typically recede and orange would be drawn to the forefront, the printing technique gives the bright color a sense of obscurity yet omnipresence. It’s as though the orange letters are existing somewhere between the background and foreground in an intriguing illusion.
The balance between neutral and bright saturated tones in this example are finely tuned. It brings an extra radiance to the bright color.
6. Solid backgrounds
Sometimes incorporating bright color into your design can be as simple as a background fill. In the example above, a bright yellow is used as the background. The joyful nature of this color matches well with the black typography and illustration above, bringing some extra life to the design.
7. Just a touch of bright color
A bright color can also pop when it’s used sparingly. The Vincit beer label design above adds a small yellow half-circle to the top of the label. Ultimately, this is all it takes for the bright color to jump out. It is a joyful sprinkle on a large black and white landscape.
8. Depth of field
In an alternative and conceptual approach to color, Kim Roselier’s design for the 2016 Olympic Games uses physical depth to bring a bright pink athlete out of a modest yellow backdrop. This intentional and clear delineation of foreground and background is a great way to put a bright color right up front. It feels closer to the viewer and for that reason grabs your attention!
9. Primary colors
Similar to the first festival poster we showed you, this Jeremy Hall example uses many bright colors together. Aside from some limited areas of black and white, this design is almost entirely bright yellow, blue and red. In many ways, it works! All three colors pop.
One factor that helps this composition work is that they are all primary colors. This means that they’re equidistant on the color spectrum and carry with them a certain familiarity as a group. This concept might also work with tertiary colors, or other equidistant color schemes!
10. Bright color in unexpected places
In this final example another conceptual approach to bright color is taken. A banana is a familiar object to us all. We all know that a banana has a yellow outside and a white inside. This design flips that concept on its head.
The familiar yellow peel is turned greyscale. The bright tights inside the package replace the expected—a basic, white banana—to draw your eye and add a little intrigue. This concept is silly, and really catches the viewer off guard. It allows the blue and magenta to pop in a whole new way!
There are many approaches and concepts behind making bright colors pop. This article only showcases a small handful of ways your can use bright color, but we hope it’s helped open the door to creativity and finding new methods for you. Start with the examples outlined above, then follow your own creative impulses to find new techniques!