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color scheme

from a reference
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by JuliannaKunstler.com

Coosing color scheme from a reference photo with Adobe Illustrator. Visual literacy and Graphic Design assignment.

In color theory, a color scheme is the choice of colors used in design for a range of media.

Color schemes are used to create style and appeal.

In this assignment you will use a good quality nature photograph to select a range of colors for your graphics needs.

Please keep in mind the purpose of the color scheme: how much contrast do you need, what is the overall theme and goal of your graphic task.

Color combinations that we find in nature are the most harmonious.

The color scheme is limited to 5-6 colors. More colors will make your design too overwhelming. Simplicity is always the best solution.


color scheme


step 1

open illustrator file

Download and open the work file.

Save it to your drive.

step 2


This is the most important step - finding a right photograph.

Use good quality photos from free stock photos libraries, like:




Search for Nature photographs (fog, sunset, flowers, landscape, sky, water, etc.)

Your photo should be:

  • is aesthetically pleasing
  • fits the theme of your project
  • you enjoy the harmony of the colors

Copy it (right-click and Copy).

step 3

paste a photo

Paste the photo onto the work area.

Resize it if needed.

Use Selection tool.

selection tool

step 4 - choosing colors


Select the first swatch square.

Use Direct Selection tool to select just one.

direct selection tool

The swatches are grouped, so the only way to select just one square is to use Direct Selection tool.

Or you can ungroup the swatches (Object > Ungroup) an then use the Selection tool.

You are going to "sample" 6 colors that you will use in your next assignments.

Keep in mind that you will use these colors for backgrounds, headings, text, and graphics.

The 6 color swatches should include:

sample color

With the first swatch selected, choose Eyedropper tool.

eye dropper tool

Click anywhere in the image to select a color that you might like.

Most likely, you will re-select the colors a few times. That's fine. As long as they look in harmony.

color scheme

Experiment with colors.

Use your intuition to find the right colors for you.

step 5

color layout

Now it's time to apply the color scheme in a layout setting.

You have a simple layout design of a slide. Use it to experiment with colors.

Try different variations of layouts and color combinations.

Try light backgrounds vs. light backgrounds, etc.

Experiment with text colors.

Add or modify extra shapes, lines, or graphics.

Be creative.

Duplicate the design and try different layouts.

Use work area outside the Art Board.

These designs will not get printed, but you choose the best color and layout combination for the final draft.

color layout
color scheme
color scheme

step 6


The last thing is recording the color ids.

1. Select a swatch (Direct Selection tool)

2. Double-click on "Fill color" swatch in Tool panel.

3. Color Picker window will pop up. This is where you can find all color information.

color value

If your goal is a screen-based graphics (vs. print) - write down RGB values (or decimal id # for web-based graphics).

color name

Use Type tool

type tool

Record the color ID

This shows the amount of Red, Green, and Blue in a color.

color RGB value

Record the rest of the colors.


Now you are ready to use this color scheme in a real application!

Save and print.