The Green Bay Film Fest, designed their poster using Pantone 072 red and black. The colors are strong and make a bright poster that is easy to pick out and easy to read. The design is simple yet modern and fun.
Color sets a mood. In this example, the subject matter is further defined by the use of black with Pantone 312 blue. Narrowing the color usage to these two allows the look and the words to convey a somber tone.
Compare the 2-color ad with this one. Notice that although the photo is the same, and the background color is the same, the four-color display of the photo actually detracts from the overall effect of the ad.
Even happier subjects can use a 2-color format to their advantage. Note how the combination of the excited gesture and the bright color in this postcard displays a cheerful mood. The balloons don’t hurt either!
When choosing which colors to use in a two-color piece, first consider the logo colors of your company. Choose one of those colors for the Pantone color, and then choose black for the second color. Two-color designs can use two Pantone colors and no black, but you run the risk of muddying up the art with unexpected results. So, experiment first to see what looks the best.
Another good way to make color decisions is by looking at the psychology and meaning of different colors. For example, yellow is seen as cheerful, red as energizing, blue as calming. There are books written on the subject and websites that talk about color psychology. Pay attention to culture as well, some colors have different meanings in other cultures, and you’ll want to make sure that your choices are seen as positive. It’s a fun adventure to learn how emotions are tied into what we see.
Metallics can also be used as the second color, along with black. Pantone has a wide range of metallics. I used Pantone gold with black in this book about the 1959 Packers, and chose an ivory paper for the book to be printed on. The photos are duotones made up of the metallic gold and black. This gave it an aged, yet rich look, that goes along well with the wealth of history of the Green Bay Packers organization. Using a metallic ink can mean extra cleanup time on press, and may be translate into cost savings. But the effect of the ink can far outweigh the pricing.
As you, or your designer, work with fewer colors, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that, not only does it save you money, but you’ll want to use it in more marketing pieces whether for print or web, because of the splendid results you’ll get. Color on!
Maribeth Conard is owner of Conard Creative Group LLC, a small design house with a lot of muscle. She has been in advertising design since 1991 and has won awards for her graphic design and fine art pieces.