How To Use The Restrictions of Monochrome To Set Your Design Free


The limits that come from working with a strict color scheme can feel restricting and maybe even frustrating at first, but once you’ve put in some thought, it is easy to see the effect they can have on a design.

Strict color schemes add coherence to your overall layout and establishing consistency. Working with a monochromatic palette makes designing all about contrasts, and automatically establishes a message or mood on a web page.

Don’t get excited if you think working with just one color will be easier. A single set of colors have such a huge range of tints and shades that you can carefully manipulate to create a striking layout. There are plenty of ways to go about it, but Carrie Cousins from Designmodo suggests starting with a dark color scheme, and I agree it is a good place to start.

Before you try to start with a dark palette, remember that black can easily overwhelm the rest of the page and make content hard to digest. Balance is as essential as contrast when trying to design a page with black as a base color.

The first step is of course selecting the colors you want to use. As I’ve suggested before, using a full black is tricky for any composition, be it on a web page of a canvas. Instead, saturate your blacks with the other main color of your composition, so that “real black” is only used extremely selectively. Even using a dark gray is usually preferable to completely black.

For your lighter colors, select your other main color, and add black in ten percent increments to create a “set” of consistent hues for your page. You also need to decide how much contrast you want on your page, which is usually reliant on the feeling you are attempting to cultivate. If you want a moody atmosphere, less contrast can help create a spooky or creepy feel, while brighter colors and contrasts may suggest a slicker or hipper mood.

Carrie Cousins’ article on dark color palettes and designs includes some quick color palette tools you might use if you don’t know where to start.


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