06 LOFI THEME SELECTION: Cheating with Color

PGCw/C is a popular color theming book, published in 2000. You can buy it used at Amazon. The book was supervised by a Senior Vice-president of The Big-P Corp, Inc.

Color Themes for Dummies
Pantone Guide to Communicating with ColorI’ve read the guru author’s other written works and they’re centered on the psychology of color almost to the point of being cosmic. This book is like a “Color Themes for Dummies” –not like the rest. Very practical and brass tacks. It’s definitely written to sell the Big-P color system. Almost every color in their palette is used in the book. It appears this was one of the major goals.

What Colors Should be Used Together?
Regardless of motive or simplicity, the book is a great tool for speeding up website production. One of the things most used on a low-fidelity site is color. This is because color on the web has no-charge, no loadtime, and no setup like print. Millions of web colors instead of a limited print palette like CMYK or Big-P. Frequently, for programmers it’s difficult to know what color should be used together. This is almost bulletproof design.

Reverse Thematic Lookup Table Online
Using the book as a key, I and my wife, Terrie, built a reverse thematic lookup table. It’s written in HTML but uses PHP-GZIP compression so it will load fast. This file is about 25,000 lines of code.

The Book is the Key
How to use the color tool is simple –but requires the book as a key. Using a color picker you select a color sample from a photo, a logo, a corporate color, or put an image through an online color filter.

Convert the hexcolor of choice to a Big-P color (Photoshop?.) You’ve now switched from an RGB palette with millions of alternatives to a palette with just 2,000 colors. Much more manageable for decision making.

Use Your Browser As a FIND tool.
The selected Big-P color is used on the Reverse Lookup using the EDIT > FIND browser function. This will indicate the theme category and what page of the book you can find it. The palette has again been reduced. Each theme page has 24 color combinations demonstrated. Color selection keeps getting easier and easier. From that you can select the dominant, subordinate and accent colors. I’ll be demonstrating this later in future entries.

It’s color combinations that create themes.
Themes are based on visual memories and emotion. This is what the designer wants the audience to feel when they view the site. Color is one aspect of theme. We’ll look at typography soon.

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