As the new graphic design trends move to bolder, more distinctive styles, color blocking becomes more popular. This technique combines two or three contrasting colors and aims to create an eye-catching look in artwork, fashion items, or any other design product.
Now, with the rise of styles like maximalism, escapism, and 90s resurgence, color blocking returns to modern graphic design. Why should you try it, and how can you make it stylish?
Why Is Color Blocking Great?
Dutch artist Piet Mondrian was the first to popularize the art of color blocking through his abstract work, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray, and Blue (1921). The artwork consists of horizontal and vertical black lines that encase solid red, yellow, white, gray, and blue colors. Even now, despite the seemingly simple design, you can still see how striking the composition looks.
Color blocking is an effective way to create different looks, from harmonious to strong and distinctive, by modifying the color combinations and how you frame or pair them. Color blocking is also great for accents and statement pieces, with degrees of complexity that you can freely modify.
In modern graphic design, color blocking blends easily with various design styles. However, starting in 2020, color blocking has become one of the most favorite techniques. This is because the pandemic-era design trend mostly abhors sterile minimalism and returns to maximalism, bold colors, escapism, cute aesthetic, and retro resurgence. Color blocking is a perfect technique to create the striking looks these styles are known for.
Tips to Create Color Blocking
Color blocking opens many possibilities in graphic design, and many good suggestions exist to create attractive compositions. They are:
Considering the Message
Your message determines the way you use the color blocking technique. What emotions do you try to evoke in people? Do you want to create a calming, energetic, nostalgic, or intriguing piece? Your color blocking technique should combine color psychology, composition, and other design elements to achieve it.
Sister Colors for Harmonious Look
Try matching different sister colors if you go for a harmonious or slightly subtle look. Pairing red with pink or yellow with orange, for example, creates a sense of harmony despite them being bold colors.
Create Dynamic Ways to Separate Colors
Piet Mondrian might start the trend with lines that form squares. However, you can improve the simplicity of this technique by playing with dynamic ways to separate the colors. For example, instead of squares, you can split the colors with diagonal, zig-zagging, or scribbled lines, depending on the design goals.
Tie the Colors with Neutrals
Color blocking techniques with bold or clashing colors can be overwhelming. If you use more than two colors, pick one neutral color to tie everything together and balance the look. You can see the example in Piet Mondrian’s iconic work, where he used white, black, and grey to give air around the solid red, yellow, and blue.
Examples of Color Blocking in Design
Here are some real examples of how color blocking enhances graphic design works:
Honest Chocolate, an artisanal chocolate brand from South Africa, has a range of chocolate bars with simple but beautiful color blocking techniques on the packages. Each chocolate bar combines white and solid colors with softer ranges, separated by a diagonal line. The result is an elegant simplicity that reflects the quality of the Chocolate.
Amado by Hyatt Mexico
Amado is a coffee shop situated in the lobby of Hyatt Mexico Hotel. The coffee shop is known for its vibrant cake and pastry boxes, business cards, greeting cards, and all of its business identities. The designs combine color blocking with modern patterns inspired by the works of Mexican modernist architect Luis Barragan.
Denada Sugar-free Ice Cream
Denada is ice cream with inclusive ingredients: sugar-free, gluten-free, halal, vegan, keto-friendly, low-carb, and low-lactose. Plus, the ice cream tubs use distinctive color blocking, with two colors on the tub and a contrasting color on the lid. The colors also work as codes for flavors, such as red and pink for raspberry, blue shades and white for cookies and cream, and orange, yellow and blue for mango cream.
Color blocking is an everlasting trend that will make your design works more attractive. Make sure you understand the principle better to apply this trend in your graphic design works!