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Almost every design career has to work with colors. We as architects aren’t experts in this subject. We just go with the basics, green for the grass, blue for the sky, and yellow for the sun hahaha, jk, but yes, we mostly go for the basic stuff. Let’s start by what is a color palette? 

Why is it important to know the importance of using a color palette? Well, we start to use a specific color palette for our architectural representation, projects, they start getting more character and get more life. 
So why not learn how to create our own color palette? We saw this technique from Greg Gunn, on how to create your own color palette. 
Look at our video tutorial here. Check out the steps on how to do this below! Download our SIB free color palettes here.

Color palette

Get diagrams

We created a base diagram table, we created this in SketchUp, and we just added text in Photoshop. 

We have plan views and axonometric views. And we just want to color them. 

Pick out main and complementary colors

We are going to create a new layer, we named it “color palette”, and with the (M) tool, we drew a square so we can color it. 


Once we have the color picker, when we are going to pick our color, according to Greg Gunn, we should divide this into 4 squares. The first color to pick out should be a color from the top right-hand corner. 

So we went with pink, and we colored the square that we made. We duplicated the square so we can color it with the complementary color. 

Now for the complementary color, according to Greg Gunn, in the H part with the number, if the number is bigger than 180° we have to subtract 180° but if it is less than 180° we have to add 180°. Once we do this math, we should have our complementary color. 

So if you get your complementary color and you want to make sure is right, add or subtract the 180° and you will see the two colors that you already have. We got this green, but we wanted something a little bit more matte. So we dragged it down a little bit. 

Create the lighter version

Now we are going to create a lighter version and a darker version of our colors. We duplicated the squares. To create a lighter color, we  need to desaturate it, so we just move farther to the left and then up a little bit. 

And for the complementary color, we do the same process. We drag it to the left and then up a little bit. We have the lighter version. 

Create the darker version

For the darker version, we are going to drag it down, not that much, and we want to make this color a little bit cooler, so on the right-hand side there are some handles, so we drag them down to the blue, to make the color a cooler color. 

And we do the same process with the complementary color, we drag it down and we drag the handles to the blue to make it cooler. 

Start coloring

When you start coloring your diagrams, you can make your own rules. You can decide to have a certain color on the left faces, and another color for the right faces. We tried to do this, but we didn’t like it. haha

So we tried it again, we started coloring this building being a little bit more strict.

So we used a different variation of the color and we used it on the floor plan also.  

We also did another variation with the greens. We chose the middle green, the darker green, and the lighter pink. 

Or you can also go monochromatic, if you don’t want to mix them, you can use all of the green variations and just color the diagram. 

Change your color palette

If for some reason you didn’t like your color palette, you can always change it! Go to adjustments and with the hue/saturation, you can start changing the hue, move it and you will see different color palettes, obviously not all of the options are the best. 

After we were done, we added some minor details, like changing the line color, or adding people. 

Final color palette

Free color palettes

We have some free color palettes! So the way to install them is, clicking on the three-line menu in the right-hand corner of the color swatches, and once you see the drop-down menu, choose “load swatches”, and select the color palette you downloaded.   

Download free color palette here. 

Have you heard of this technique for creating color palettes before? How do you create your color palettes? Watch the video tutorial below

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