A Color Exercise for our Brand’s Illustration

Last week our Senior Brand Designer, Bronwyn Gruet, wrote a great article about our initiative in streamlining our illustration work with the introduction of Illustration Object Libraries. To further streamline our illustration process we decided to conduct an exercise, an experiment of sorts, in color harmonies with our recently updated color palette.

We wanted to treat this exercise as a guideline that would help us use our brand’s unique set of colors effectively and efficiently. With an array of hues, shades and tints to choose from, we knew this exercise would be a time-saver when working with color.


Creative Market’s Color Palette

Our color palette includes a wide range of tones and we aim to utilize the entire spectrum of colors to create warmth and energetic work. Our team already uses a shared swatch library which allows for easy access and color consistency for the entire team. Below is a screenshot of Creative Market’s colors:

Color wheels that were developed to document the various color harmonies.

Color Combinations

During our color explorations, we looked for harmonies that we could lean into for illustration work. We felt a systematic approach would work best and decided to study color combinations that are regarded as harmonies. These combinations are known to have pleasing or contrasting quality to them and consists of these groups: Analogous, Complementary, Split-Complementary & Side-Complementary, and Triad. There are numerous other color groups but we chose these harmonies that were unique for our use.

Analogous — groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.

We tend to use these when working with smaller spot illustrations. This combination is very reliable and aesthetically pleasing but when using this harmony we need to ensure that focus & visual interest is created using chromatic contrast.

Complementary—Colors directly opposite each other in the color wheel.

We do not tend to use this combination due to the visual tension it creates. Most of our projects do not require this level of contrast which may distract from our project goal when working with our product or marketing team.

Split-Complementary & Side-Complementary — This is a variation of the complementary color scheme. It uses the base color plus two “Analogous” colors (or just one if it’s a Side-Complementary) adjacent to its complement.

We use this color relationship the most in our illustrations. As mentioned earlier, we want to use the entire spectrum of color to convey dynamic work. This harmony gives enough contrast to create visual interest without the intensity that can occur in complementary harmonies.

Triad — Colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel

We tend to use this harmony for larger illustration work where we want to use the entire spectrum of color as a representation of our creative community and company. When using so many colors we’re mindful of how and where we place colors together in our illustration. This ensures that the visual mood stays within our company’s voice & tone.


A Few Color Techniques

Along with the color guide we also researched color techniques in Illustrator that would improve our workflow.

Quick tip #1 — Global Colors

We’ve recently begun to use this magnificent trick in Illustrator. There are various examples and tutorials online on how to use global colors, but in short they are a great way to change colors quickly when working with multiple shapes and layers in an illustration. Here’s an example:

Quick Tip #2 — Recolor Artwork

Another technique that we use for color combination changes is Recolor Artwork. With this tool we can select our Creative Market color library and in real time change the hue within our brand’s color wheel. Here’s an example:


The goal is to have a guide that provides a refresher and speeds up our decision making process when it comes to color pairings. Having this color guide in place also helps us keep a consistent look and feel in all our illustrations. The colors we choose and the combinations we make are important factors for our brand personality.

This guide will always be a work-in-progress as we continue to shape & evolve our brand system. And it doesn’t stop here, we’re continually searching and improving our process. Our team regularly shares new tools, updates, and methods that help in our efforts to grow professionally as a team.

Thanks for reading! And if you’re curious to read more about Creative Market drop by our Medium page for other great reads!


We’re always looking for amazing people to join the Creative Market team. We value our culture as much as we value our mission. So if helping creators turn passion into opportunity sounds like something you’d love to do with a group of folks who feel the same way, then check out our job openings and apply today!