Practical Color Palettes for Designers
24 Single Color
Being limited to a single color of ink (a client’s official PMS color, for example) and white paper is pretty much the most restrictive guideline a designer is likely to encounter when developing the look of a printed piece.
The good news is that this really does not need to be seen as a restriction at all. You can create eye-catching layouts, images, and illustrations with just one color of ink. True, the color needs to be dark enough to stand out clearly against its white backdrop, but given a deep enough hue, the possibilities are many: The colored ink could be broken down into various percentages to create a monochromatic palette, the ink could flood the page at full opacity with typographic and illustrated material either reversed to white or printed at light percentages, and, of course, the ink could simply be used to color a layout whose aesthetic structure and/or textual message are compelling enough to catch and hold viewers’ attention.
Photos and illustrations can certainly be printed with one color of ink, especially if they feature a value structure that is bold enough to present itself clearly using something other than black ink.
Be sure to think through the thematic ramifications when pondering the possibility of printing certain images with a single color of ink. You may want to think twice, for instance, before printing a halftone of a banana using bright purple ink (which may or may not be a bad idea—it all depends on whether or not your piece’s message is meant to be silly, serious, quirky, or commonplace).
Whatever the case, accept the challenge the next time you’re asked to design an eye-catching printed piece using a single color of ink. There are few better ways of proving one’s worth and talent as a designer than by rising above the perceived limitations of something like a one-color print job and coming up with top-notch visual material.