Choosing a colour scheme for your infographics

Choosing the colours for your infographic might not sound like a priority, but a colour scheme can make or break your entire design, no matter how good your structure or your images are.

The importance of colour - cartoon

Stephen Wildish, The importance of colour

There is an extremely large degree of freedom when choosing a colour scheme: whether you prefer light or dark colours, soft pastel tints or flashy saturated colours, playful or very serious, multiple varieties of the same colour or rather highly contrasting accents. For inspiration, just take a look at the ton of website colour scheme examples over at canva.com.

Canva colour schemes

The hidden meaning of colours

Of course, this plethora of options can very quickly turn into a nightmare. If so many colour schemes exist, where should we start? In case of doubt, it’s always a good idea to return to the basics: the psychological meaning of colours. Every colour might trigger an unconscious response with your audience, to greater or lesser extent. For example, blue is often used to demonstrate trust and stability, the reason why many banks choose a blue logo and branding style. On the other hand, red is associated with energy or passion, possibly because of its meaning in nature: red animals or plants mean trouble, danger, “don’t eat me!”.

The meaning of colours

If your infographic has a historical theme, (light) brown might be a good choice. That is the reason why I have selected it as the main colour of my Nobel Prize in Physics infographic, together with bright orange to draw the attention of the reader. Combined with a washed-out version of the medal in the background, the light brown adds a classical, intelligent feel to the visualization:

The Nobel Prize in Physics infographic

Personal project: history of the Nobel Prize in Physics

Does the product, brand, place or theme you’re making an infographic about have a characteristic colour? Then you’re lucky: you have already found the main colour to start building your colour scheme around. Imagine you are making an infographic about the history of Coca-Cola: red would be the logical — and probably best — choice for that. Or an infographic about the oceans, fishing, and the diversity of marine life? Blue is the colour you need!

Finding inspiring colour schemes

If you don’t feel confident about building your own colour scheme from scratch, there’s no need to worry. The internet is an endless source of inspiration to add colours to your designs. In the past few years, several handy, free tools have emerged to help you with this task.

One of my personal favourites is coolors.co, which suggests a great new colour scheme at the click of a button (or rather, by hitting your spacebar). If you like a colour, but not the entire scheme, you can lock it to keep it in the scheme, while getting new suggestions for the other colours. Or you can simply play with the sliders to modify the hue, saturation or value of the suggested colours. To top it off, there are multiple easy as pie export options available.

Coolors.co colour scheme generator

Coolors.co colour scheme generator (screenshot)

A somewhat older, but more community-based sit is COLOURlovers. Here, the colours and colour schemes are chosen by the visitors, and you can browse, search, and like your way through an endless collection of them. And if you’re feeling confident, you can of course share your own favourite personal scheme with the entire community.

If you make or find some great infographics using a stunning colour scheme, please share them with us, for example using the comments below! As a start, here are some of my favourite examples with a bold colour scheme choice!

Coffee production infographic

A few thoughts on coffee production (Café du Monde UK)

Survival kit infographic

Survival kit (found on Pinterest, artist unknown)

Nick Felton infographic

With Olga in New York City (Nick Felton)

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