Add neutral colors to your designs
Neutral colors can add so much to the visual look of your e-learning. Neutrals make good background colors and are excellent choices for text and other elements that anchor the slide. What I mean isn’t everything must grab your attention directly. A neutral color is one can be subtle and perform a variety of functions without overpowering the other content. First and foremost, respect the brand. Here’s a sample brand palette with both primary and secondary colors. The primary colors not only work well together, but they also make excellent neutrals. This simply means these colors don’t distract the learner like a lime green a bright fuchsia might. Get acquainted with your color palette. Choose colors that go well together. Here I’m working with the first palette I showed earlier. Dark blue and light gold are perfect colors on which to build a branded course. I make sure I have a light and dark color that go well together and can be used together as I’ve done here with this text. There will be situations where you will need light and dark text, so make sure you have chosen good options to use throughout the course. Next, I experiment with doing different colors together and seeing how they fit with my two primaries. These colors all work well together, so any combination here would work really. Adding transparency to a shape also opens up a lot of possibilities. Have you ever tried this? I could use any of these colors as a transparent backgrounHere I’m in PowerPoint, and I’m getting ready to put a neutral background behind my slide. I’m just going to go and grab a shape, a rectangle, and I want to fill that shape with a color. I’m going to use a gold color, similar to my brand color, and I’m going to change the transparency. I’m going back here to More Gradients. That will bring up my Format Shape, and here I can go in and alter the transparency. So you can see that I’m using that neutral gold color, but I’m making it transparent, so it makes a nice background. Now when I put it to the back, you can see it looks nice behind the bear. So here I’ve used that neutral gold color, and I’ve added transparency and put it behind the bear. I think it not only is neutral, but it’s very subtle. Here I’ve taken one color. That neutral gold from the primary palette, and show three variations of using it with transparency. There’s a lot you can do with transparency. Here are some simple ways I use transparency. Just adding transparent shapes can give your design depth without being too distracting. Here’s that gold color again, and I’ve used it as a transparent shape behind my photo caption. And the second example uses transparent shapes as accents. Here I just staggered a shape behind the image to give it sort of a drop shadow look. In this example, I wanted a look of grey pinstripes, but I wanted it to be subtle, so I added transparency to the stripes to make them fade back even more. Still obvious, but far more effective. And now for my secret weapon, I have an amazing color that I use in every project I can. I found it in the Adobe Illustrator Swatch Libraries years ago, and here it is. It’s still there by the way. This shade the perfect neutral. If you want to recreate the shade in another application, for example, PowerPoint or Storyline, this is the breakdown, the red, green, and blue combination that makes this neutral color. So here I am in Adobe Illustrator and let me show you where I find that color. I’m going under the Window menu, and I’m going to scroll to the bottom to the Swatch Libraries over to Art History, and over to Baroque. I’m going to grab on the bottom right to make this palette longer, and here’s the color that I’m talking about, this beautiful shade of gold. So you can use it here. Let me just draw a shape and show you how I can apply that color. And again, if I wanted to add transparency to it, I can go right up here and cut back the opacity to make it a more transparent shade. So the neutral gold color is a far better choice than that bright yellow at the top. The bright yellow just grab attention too quickly, and it’s too garish looking where the other color is a much better neutral. Here’s an example of that gold in use. This is an infographic I did on bear safety, and you can see that the text at the bottom is done in that shade of gold, and also the arrow over top of the black bear, I wanted to choose a light neutral color, and it works perfectly there. And finally, let’s talk about white versus light grey. Just as with the garish yellow we discussed, white can be distracting as well. If you squint and look at the slide, you’ll be drawn to the white boxes first. In many cases, I use the lightest grey shade instead of white, because it still draws my eye in, but it’s less of a distraction, which helps the learner.