HowtoHow to choose and combine colors – A thorough analysis of color combinations. – Part 2

How to choose and combine colors – A thorough analysis of color combinations. – Part 2

In one of my previous blogposts, I summarised my findings after analyzing 20+ color palettes in my search on “how to choose and combine colors”.

I visualized 196 different colors and figured out that 50% of the designs on Dribbble & Behance are not using traditional color schemes.

I learned that creating an analogous color scheme is not as easy as it seems and that harmony is the key to an amazing color palette.

I learned that 95% of the color palettes out there use half of the color circle.

I continued the search for more knowledge on how to choose and combine colors and found several other tips worth sharing.

Warm-Cold color palettes are the way to go

I collected 196 colors from Dribbble and Behance. I plotted them on the color circle and found out that warm-cold color palettes are pretty popular.

warm cold complementary palette

In the image above we notice unpopular colors like purple and green.

Why is this? Aren’t complementary colors suppose to be popular? Or are purple and green just very unpopular colors?

I remembered having a book that contained the answer.

“Beauty” by Sagmeister & Walsh checked amongst 6500+ people what their favorite color was. Purple was number one.

So what is the reason for purple & green not being popular?

warm cold complementary palette
Visualisation by myself. Research and data from the book “Beauty” from Sagmeister & Walsh.

The only other reason that made sense to me was: would a warm-cold combination be collectively perceived as aesthetically pleasing?

I researched and found out 67% of the palettes were a warm-cold combination.

Considering the fact that purple and green are not per sé very warm or cold, it’s used less often.

What tone amongst all colors is most popular?

If we would define a category for all tones, we would end up with something like this:

popular colors

The question is: which category is used more often? For each palette, I categorized the colors that were used. 

See the grey little boxes in the image below.

color palettes

If you do that 20 times you get this. 

color palettes

And when we combine that we can tell that the so-called “Bright & Semi Vibrant”, “Pastel” & “Desaturated Color” are most popular. While grey tones are very unpopular. 

See image below.

color palettes

Some other interesting findings

color palettes
color palettes

The most interesting overall finding was the way harmony was created in palettes. 

We can see that in a palette every color is often from a different category.

Think combining pastel with a semi-vibrant color and a grey tone for example. 

Super interesting here is that all colors used in a palette are near each other on the category-map.

color palettes
color palettes

Near yellow = optical the brighest

The finding that a color that is nearest to yellow on the circle should be optical most bright was also mind-blowing. Apparently, this has something to do with how our brains are wired and our innate perception of beauty.


In the example below yellow obviously pops out the most. But the analogous purple palette which it’s combined with grows slowly towards yellow. Each brighter variation of purple could also move towards blue, but will look less attractive.

I hope these findings, combined with my previous findings help you create more appealing color palettes in no-time. Of course, like any skill, it takes time to get a hang of it. But I hope these tips make a good starting point.

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