10 ways to make bright color pop in your next design

There’s no denying it… Bright, bold colors have been a huge trend this year—not only a 2016 web design trend, but across all mediums. This color palette is popular with good reason; when bright color pops in design, it can conjure excitement, joy and intrigue. For that reason, it’s a great skill to master as a designer.

There are many different ways to incorporate bright color into your designs. This article takes a close look at 10 different examples which accomplish just that. Enjoy!

1. All brights and white space
_

bright colored poster
Igor Kubik (via Behance)

The street art festival poster to the left shows us an interesting way to pop some color. It features a palette filled with bright, saturated colors in similar shades.

This gives the overall design a high level of vibrancy and excitement. The dynamic illustration builds on that high energy, while the childlike style and use of mostly primary colors add a touch of nostalgia and playfulness.

It’s easy to create something overwhelming with such vivid colors, but the use of white space gives the poster room to breathe. It also offers a needed contrast and counterpoint to the intense brightness and saturation throughout the piece.

 

 

 

2. Color surprises

_

unexpected bright color in design
Anagrama Studio (via Behance)

Another way to make utilize bright colors is to put them where you least expect it. Odabashian is a hand-woven rug company that makes mostly neutral colored rugs. Their tag is bright yellow and often stitched onto the bottom side of the rug.

The Odabashian brand asset featured above captures that same concept by adding a solid yellow color fill to the back of the page. When the viewer picks up this piece of paper, they assume it’s business as usual—just a traditional black and white text document. But when the page is flipped, the expansive yellow color is wildly unexpected. Talk about a great design surprise!

3. White as negative space

_

bright color ford advertisement
Daniel Zacatenco, Sameer Suri (via Behance)

The Ford advertisement above features its own interesting use of bright color. The white space in the ad works as both the ground and background, creating an interesting two-dimensionality. The blue acts recessively, allowing the white “Ford” letters shine through.

But the real interest is in the bright yellow car. It pops because it’s central to the composition, the car is contrastingly 3-dimensional and nearly complementary to the blue. The Ford logo becomes secondary to the real focus—their car.

4. Color temperature

_

bright color pattern
Hyper Glu (via Behance)

Interesting designs can be achieved through color temperature manipulation, as well. The design above features a spectrum of bright colors ranging from “cool” to “hot”. In this particular design, the hot colors come to the foreground and pop the most, while the cool colors fall to the background and feel less intense.

There are many possible explanations for this. In a visual landscape of hot and cold, it may be natural for humans to gravitate towards warmth. Warmer colors also tend to have more vibrancy and be more eye-catching that cool colors. In the example above, it may be a combination of these reasons.

5. Balancing neutrals and bright color

_

typography with color pop
R2 Design (via Behance)

The example to the right explores the relationship between neutral and bright colors. In this case, the orange gradient is given a lot of space and room to breathe. The addition of color feels unexpected, so when you come across it in your visual exploration of the piece, it is exciting.

The orange letters are printed beneath varied black typographic patterns, which is a fun technique to play with. While black would typically recede and orange would be drawn to the forefront, the printing technique gives the bright color a sense of obscurity yet omnipresence. It’s as though the orange letters are existing somewhere between the background and foreground in an intriguing illusion.

The balance between neutral and bright saturated tones in this example are finely tuned. It brings an extra radiance to the bright color.

6. Solid backgrounds

_

solid bright color background
Katsy Garcia (via Behance)

Sometimes incorporating bright color into your design can be as simple as a background fill. In the example above, a bright yellow is used as the background. The joyful nature of this color matches well with the black typography and illustration above, bringing some extra life to the design.

7. Just a touch of bright color

_

color pop label design
Marco Vincit (via Behance)

A bright color can also pop when it’s used sparingly. The Vincit beer label design above adds a small yellow half-circle to the top of the label. Ultimately, this is all it takes for the bright color to jump out. It is a joyful sprinkle on a large black and white landscape.

8. Depth of field

_

bright color illustration
Kim Roselier (via Behance)

In an alternative and conceptual approach to color, Kim Roselier’s design for the 2016 Olympic Games uses physical depth to bring a bright pink athlete out of a modest yellow backdrop. This intentional and clear delineation of foreground and background is a great way to put a bright color right up front. It feels closer to the viewer and for that reason grabs your attention!

9. Primary colors

_

primary color poster
Jeremy Hall (via Behance)

Similar to the first festival poster we showed you, this Jeremy Hall example uses many bright colors together. Aside from some limited areas of black and white, this design is almost entirely bright yellow, blue and red. In many ways, it works! All three colors pop.

One factor that helps this composition work is that they are all primary colors. This means that they’re equidistant on the color spectrum and carry with them a certain familiarity as a group. This concept might also work with tertiary colors, or other equidistant color schemes!

10. Bright color in unexpected places

_

color pop packaging
Hyela Lee (via Behance)

In this final example another conceptual approach to bright color is taken. A banana is a familiar object to us all. We all know that a banana has a yellow outside and a white inside. This design flips that concept on its head.

The familiar yellow peel is turned greyscale. The bright tights inside the package replace the expected—a basic, white banana—to draw your eye and add a little intrigue. This concept is silly, and really catches the viewer off guard. It allows the blue and magenta to pop in a whole new way!

Conclusion

There are many approaches and concepts behind making bright colors pop. This article only showcases a small handful of ways your can use bright color, but we hope it’s helped open the door to creativity and finding new methods for you. Start with the examples outlined above, then follow your own creative impulses to find new techniques!

How else can you make bright color pop? Comment below!

The author

workerbee
workerbee

workerbee is a self taught designer from the east coast with a relentless curiosity in all realms of life. 99designs profile: workerbee.

Tags

Related articles

34 red logos that are red hot

34 red logos that are red hot

When it comes to logo design, there are few colors as visceral as red. Commonly associated with fire, hearts and roses, the warm color exudes boldness, beauty and inspiration. The artist Henri Matisse went so far as to say, “A certain red has an effect on your blood pressure.” So how has this fierce color…

The history and meaning of blue

The history and meaning of blue

From the ocean to the sky, the color blue is seemingly everywhere. Civilizations have long venerated this color for its strong and practical applications. In the past it was a color reserved for royalty, but today nearly everyone walks around in blue jeans. Hospitals use blue on their walls for its relaxed effect, and graphic…

35 beautiful blue logos

35 beautiful blue logos

What do Facebook, ATT and IBM have in common aside from being household names? They all use blue as the primary color in their logos. Now think about other companies with blue logos. It’s a long list, right? Blue logos might seem as ubiquitous as the blue sky and there is good reason for this:…

Current Design Contests

Designers, check out these contests so you can start building your career.
0%