How to Combine Colors the Unconventional Way

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Have you been searching for a way to add a little flair and originality to your designs? Consider using unconventional color combinations instead of relying on the safe and traditional options. Sure, this concept may go against everything you learned in design school, but without risks, there will be no rewards.

As a graphic designer, you should already have a basic understanding of the color wheel and how primary colors can be combined to create secondary colors. However, if not, here is a quick overview because you must understand these concepts to then effectively use unconventional color combinations.

Color Beginner’s Overview

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The three primary colors are blue, yellow, and red. This is the extent of the color beginner’s course you will receive today.

What you must know about primary colors for the sake of unconventional usage is that any combination of the primary options will create a conventional result – which is the exact opposite of what you want when trying to veer away from traditional color usage. As such, stay away from primary color combinations and you will be as unconventional as they come.

Understanding Secondary Colors

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The next concept you must understand to achieve unconventionality is how secondary colors are created. The three secondary colors are purple, orange and green and they are created from conventional combinations of the three primary colors.

What you must understand about primary and secondary color usage is that combinations of secondary colors and opposing primary colors don’t achieve unconventionality and should therefore be avoided in this case. For example, combining the primary color of blue with its contrasting secondary color of orange will only lead you down the boring, traditional color selection road.

Achieving Unconventionality


Now that you understand conventional color usage, you can begin breaking the rules. The first option for achieving unconventionality is to combine any secondary color with another secondary option that is next to it on the color wheel. For example, using purple and orange or green and orange can provide wonderfully unnatural combinations.

To up the ante a bit, you can expand your design risk-taking to the second level of unconventionality – mixing primary colors with secondary colors that are located next to each other on the color wheel. These combinations include such options as red and orange or blue and purple.

While these concepts may initially be a little tricky to grasp, with a little practice, you will soon be a pro at unconventionality. The best way to begin is to keep a color wheel within sight at all times until you are completely familiar with the concepts of primary and secondary color combinations. Another great option is to research unconventional graphic designers and become familiar with how these professionals have effectively gone against the natural color world.

By following these principles, you will soon be creating fantastically unconventional designs. When taking more risks with your projects, you will be more likely to stand above the competition and be known as a designer who isn’t afraid to veer away from traditional methods and utilize your creative mind.

Written by Kate

Our guests blog on a wide variety of topics including inspiration and photography!

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