Reader Q+A

I had a couple of people email me some fun questions recently, so I thought I’d share those here with you, in case you, too, were curious.


color q+a - complementary colors


How do you personally start when you build a color scheme/palette? What’s your process?

A color usually jumps out at me, and very insistently demands my attention. If it’s coming from an inspiration source, like a photo, where there are other colors surrounding it, I may open up Photoshop and put together a palette with those colors; I do that for every color palette post I do here. I love making palettes because I’m already reacting to the colors in the photo, so chances are, I’m going to love the way they look separated out, too.

If it’s just the color screaming at me, I might play around with a color relationship. Complementary colors are fun to use, and I like tweaking it so one color is nice and bold while the other is softer, like the graphic above.

Or I might pair it up with another color I’m loving, like I did with Oh The Color’s branding. Those colors are pulled directly from Pantone’s Spring 2013 color report – the red is Poppy Red and the orange is Nectarine. I paired it with a quasi-neutral yellow (tan) because it needed another color to make it feel complete, but it needed something that wouldn’t compete, either. And it turned out I already had one quasi-neutral ready – I put Pantone’s Spring Colors together with a favorite quasi-neutral in this post, so I grabbed that and was on my way, color-wise. Funny enough, even though I wasn’t trying for it, OTC’s colors ended up being an analogous color scheme.



How do *I* start?

Try starting with your materials. When I was creating jewelry for my old shop, I’d use boro beads as my color source and match up rondelles to the colors I saw. Having an inspiration source is excellent for all skill levels because you have something to guide you or get you out of a creative rut.

If you’re feeling very nervous, or if your materials don’t necessarily give you color help, start by finding color palettes to work from or making your own. I’ve got a big Pinterest board full of color palettes to get you started.

As you start feeling more comfortable, try intentionally using the color relationships.



Are you going to do another Color Palette Blog Walk soon?

I know I said I’d do one in the new year, and five months in, I still haven’t delivered. I think it’s time to retire it and move on to a different kind of color challenge, if there’s interest. Maybe something a little more inclusive this time, as I know not everyone has access to a graphics program.



Should I get Elements or Photoshop or Lightroom?

Depends on what you’re looking to do. I talked about the differences between Elements and Photoshop here, so if you’re looking to buy one, definitely read up on that.

I will say that most people don’t really need Photoshop; they buy it because they think they do, but they really don’t. Elements is absolutely fine for most people’s projects, with the exception being someone who’s learning graphic design (if that’s you, grab Photoshop – there are student discounts for it).

Between the two, I personally like Elements a little better. I find it a little easier to work with, though that could be because I’ve used it extensively for the past five years, versus Photoshop, which I didn’t have for a long time and have only started using more in the last two years. So, maybe I’m a little biased about the ease of Elements!

As for Lightroom, I have it installed, but I honestly haven’t had a chance to sit down and learn it, so I can’t give an honest opinion about it. The way I understand it, it’s a digital darkroom, so it’s only used for photo editing. Elements and Photoshop can be used for photo editing as well as creating graphics. Since both Lightroom and Elements retail for around $100 USD, I’d probably say grab Elements if you think you might want to create graphics.



Do you have Creative Cloud? How do you like it?

I do have Adobe’s Creative Cloud, and I love it.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s a monthly subscription to Adobe’s programs. There are single-app (Adobe’s calling their programs apps now, though it’s not really an app like for your phone) subscriptions available in addition to a subscription for access to most of the programs Adobe makes. You can subscribe month-to-month, or commit to a year and have a lower monthly rate.

If you have a license to a CS3 version or later program, you get a discount for the complete plan for your first year (it’s $30 per month for 12 months); that’s what I did last year. Now that my first year is up, I’m paying $50 per month for the next 12 months. It’s a big chunk of money for someone who’s on a budget, but the trade off is that I have access to so many programs that I wouldn’t be able to afford any other way. Through my subscription, I’m able to use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Lightroom – that’s all I’ve got installed right now, but I can also use other programs like Dreamweaver, After Effects, and Premiere Pro, too (among others).

The ability to use so many programs for one flat price is absolutely worth it to me. I don’t have a CD of each program like I used to, but I won’t have to worry about shelling out hundreds of dollars upfront for each program. I also don’t have to worry about upgrading, either, since those are included in my subscription.

Now, will most people need a Creative Cloud subscription? Probably not. But if you’re curious about how to use some of these programs, you’ve now got a comparatively inexpensive option to give them a try, and a year to learn how they work.



Got more questions? I’ve got answers. Leave a comment or email me!


P.S. I know some people have been having problems downloading freebies. I have no idea why it’s acting up, but I am working on a solution. When I get it fixed, I’ll let you know!


2 Responses to Reader Q+A

  1. Now that Creative Cloud is the future for Adobe I think some of us worry about the monthly cost of ‘owning’ software. It sure did cause quite an outrage in the design community with their announcement this week. It’s good to hear positive feedback.
    Libby recently posted Flickr three :: #A17B61 :: at sunsetMy Profile

    • Yeah, I did read quite a few articles about the uproar that announcement caused. And I’m not unsympathetic – that extra twenty bucks a month is okay right now, but may be an issue in a lean month. As I’ve committed to another year, I’m just hoping I can continue to afford the subscription without problems. It’s also unfortunate that people that want to own a hard disc can’t anymore in the future. I get why Adobe did it – to generate more consistent revenue from year to year, versus spurts when a new version is released – but it seems like it could have kept the discs as well as the subscription option. For me, there’s really no other way I’d be able to afford access to all of the programs I need, so I’m excited about the chance for that.