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color schemes in graphic design

classic and intuitive approaches

by JuliannaKunstler.com

Color schemes in Graphic Design. Classic and intuitive approach. Lesson plan with two assignments.

In color theory, a color scheme is the choice of colors used in design for a range of media. Color schemes are used to create style and appeal.

When choosing a color scheme - think of what a message you want to convey with your artwork, your target audience, the theme of your artwork, do you want to emphasize anything..... Think of how many colors do you need.

color wheel



Assignment 1. Classic Color schemes.

color scheme designs

Open Adobe Illustrator.

Create 6 abstract designs (using geometric shapes) for each color scheme:

  • Use at least 6 shapes for each design.
  • Include color swatches below each design.
  • Include the name of the scheme (use color wheel above for reference)

Use this link to select colors.

Assignment 2. Intuitive Color Schemes.

color schemes

Find a photograph that:

- is aesthetically pleasing

- fits the theme of your project

- you enjoy the harmony of the colors

Copy it.

color schemes

Create a new file in Adobe Illustrator.

Paste the image.

Create 5 - 6 squares to keep the color swatches.

color schemes

Use Eye Dropper tool and select colors that you feel will look good in your project.

You should have both dark and light colors to maintain some contrast in your work.

Please include:

  • One "pop" color
  • Two dark colors
  • One medium-tone color
  • Two light colors

These colors are not final - you might need to tweak them in the next step.


Create at least two variations of the color scheme use for a document layout

- Choose a background color (or two)

- Header 1 and header 2

- Body text color

- Additional text color

- Other graphics (lines, shapes, etc)