Design + Sketch
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Design + Sketch

Building a Color Palette Framework

How to define a framework of colors while building a color palette for your brand

Design systems provide a convenient, centralised, and evolving map of a brand’s known product territories with directional pointers to help you explore new regions.” ~Chris Messina, ex-Uber

In this article, we will discuss some techniques to define a set of rules to generate color variations, that can scale to a larger spectrum of usage and also could be applied across any brand palette in future. You can choose any of these techniques or combine them to create your own.

Let’s get started

Here’s a list of few color properties that we will be harnessing to its full potential to create color variations:

  • Chroma is the purity of a color (a high chroma has no added black, white or gray).
  • Saturation is how much of a given hue is present (lower saturation having less hue, and closer to white).
  • Brightness/Value refers to how light or dark a color is (dark having a low brightness/value).
  • Opacity refers to how transparent or opaque a color is (high transparency having low opacity).
  • Tones are created by adding gray to a color, making it duller than the original.
  • Shades are created by adding black to a color, making it darker than the original.
  • Tints are created by adding white to a color, making it lighter than the original.
Summary of color properties. We will use a combination of these properties to generate color variations. Download print version
10-point scale Framework grid for understanding color properties

The Framework Grid

The above graph shows the relation between Brightness, Opacity, Tints, Tones, Shades & Chroma for a particular Hue. This graph was built using a 10-point scale. What it means is, the Opacity of color varies by 10% across the X-axis and the Brightness varies by 10% across the Y-axis.

Here’s the Sketch file of the above mentioned steps

1. Tint-Tone-Shade Method

Download Sketch file

2. Overlay Blending Method

Download Sketch file

3. Soft Light Blending Method

Download Sketch file

4. Cool Color Overlay Blending Method

Download Sketch file

5. Warm Color Overlay Blending Method

Download Sketch file

6. Brightness Tweak Method

Download Sketch file

7. Brightness + Saturation Tweak Method

Download Sketch file

Hybrid Example

Download Sketch file

Conclusion

It’s all about using your tools and harnessing the basics of design elements. Combination of different elements/techniques often opens up a door to infinite possibilities.

About me

Hello, I’m Rahul Chakraborty, building experiences & crafting solutions at India’s largest e-commerce platform, Flipkart. 🛒

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