Poster Color Schemes

Today’s essential question: How can I combine colors to create my intended mood?

Today we will analyze how the colors we use in our posters affect the mood of the poster. A solid color scheme will generally have one dominant color and two accent colors. (Generally, at least one of these colors is a neutral. We will discuss the use of neutrals in more depth below.)

Different graphic design eras are known for different color combinations. These color combinations are intertwined with world events during that time period, as well as the intended purpose of the design.

1930s Work Progress Administration

From 1935-1936, the WPA Federal Art Project created a series of posters celebrating National Parks. These posters (and modern ones created in their style) feature subdued, calming colors and generous use of neutrals.

1940 WWII Propaganda Posters

In the late 1930s and early 1940s, propaganda posters featured stark contrast and lots of red to promote fear and action. Shepard Fairey creates much of his art in this style.

1960s Psychedelia

Posters created in the 1960s, particularly those promoting music and events, often featured bright, jarring color combinations. The lack of neutrals intensified this effect and purposefully obscured text.

Stick stuck on color scheme ideas? Check out the DesignSeeds website for more inspiration.

Today we will:

  • Continue working on our posters, paying special attention to how our chosen colors affect the mood of the poster
  • Create a new blog post with the following:
    • A PDF of today’s progress
    • The answers to the following questions:
      • What mood are you trying to create?
      • What is your dominant color?
      • What are your accent colors?
      • Do you think you can improve your poster by changing any of the colors? If so, how?
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