Color Inspiration: Never Use Black

MyDesignShop already offers the lowest prices anywhere on Pantone products. All this week, you can save an EXTRA 10% off. Simply use coupon code 10PANTONE at checkout. To celebrate the Pantone sale, we’ll be posting color palette inspirations every day. Where do you find inspiration for new color combinations? Please share your thoughts and images in the comments.

color inspiration

This painting of San Francisco by Wayne Thiebaud looks so much like his more famous cake paintings that I knew it was his work in an instant. What’s even better is that this image was used to illustrate a great article about why you should never use pure black in your designs. (You can download this color palette as an Adobe .ase file.)

color inspiration

When you put pure black next to a set of meticulously picked colors, the black overpowers everything else. It stands out because it’s not natural. All of the “black” everyday objects around you have some amount of light bouncing off of them, which means they aren’t black, they’re dark gray. And that light probably has a tint to it, so they’re not even dark gray, they’re colored-dark gray.

Lots of the apps we use on a daily basis have blacks that aren’t really blacks, but dark grays. Twitter’s sidebar, Sublime Text 2’s sidebar if you have Soda Dark installed (which you should!), new Photoshop’s background, the calendar widget. Even Twitter Bootstrap. They all use colors close to black, but slightly muted so they don’t overpower the rest of the elements on the screen.

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