The Key to Color Harmony: Avoiding Boredom and Chaos

We recently introduced you to Palette, the new multi-color image discovery tool from Shutterstock Labs that allows you to explore and discover images based on custom color schemes. In honor of that launch, we’re resurfacing some of our best content on working with color palettes. Check out the story below for some fresh inspiration, then start exploring Palette to see how it can help you refine and reinvent your own work.

I love color. I especially appreciate bright, vivid colors that make you feel like you’re in another world. With summer coming to my neighborhood, I’ve been inspired to look for more vivid and stunning color-harmony arrangements.

Color harmony creates a balance that’s pleasing to the eye. When imagery isn’t harmonious, it becomes either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience so bland that the viewer isn’t connected to what he or she is looking at, while at the other is an experience so overdone that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. Color harmony delivers both visual interest and a sense of order.

Here are some examples of great color harmony I discovered in the Shutterstock collection, along with the color codes in each palette. Try using any of these to create your own pleasing imagery, or share your own favorite combinations in the comments!

A basic but effective use of color and harmony is important so that no single color feels out of place. The end result is pleasant and inspiring, yet simple.

Sometimes with highly saturated photos, colors tend to blow out. In this image, the color still maintains its potency and effect. The icy texture of the model’s hair is also balanced by the pink of the background.

Bright reds and vintage browns make all the shapes and textures pop in the background without seeming too chaotic.

This light blue/green background makes the model stand out. It also shifts the emphasis to the color of her eyes.

The green in this photo accents the warm rays of a setting sun. Pinks and greens of different shades also help make the darker colors of this image blend naturally.

View all of the images used in this post in our Color Inspiration lightbox »

Top image: Bright red flamingos by val lawless

To explore and create your own color magic, check out Palette in Shutterstock Labs »