Content may be king, but according to Kissmetrics, 85% of shoppers base their decision on color alone. As a designer, it’s critical to pick the right color palette for the next sermon series, ministry brand, or church campaign. Shareable information requires images to catch viewers’ attention (including the right color choices).

I believe that designers should discipline themselves in color theory as much as possible. But most designers don’t have the time to dive into color theory and pick an analogous, triadic, or split-complementary color scheme off a wheel. So instead of this article focusing on the psychological effects of your color choices (this varies depending on your nationality) or color theory in general, I’m going to focus on a “cheat” you can use to save time.

You know who really knew their colors? Master painters. Think about it.

I like to romanticize them spending slow paced days with no cell phone or email to bother them as they slaved away studying light and freaking out about the right color combos for their next work of art.

Here are some tips on how to capitalize on the brilliance of the master painters when it comes to picking out the best colors for your design(s).

1. Reference Master Paintings

If you don’t know that much about master artists, that’s fine. Just Google, “master artists” or “paintings”, hit images, and scroll down.

2. Mood Match

Think about the mood the painting puts you in compared to the mood you are aiming for with your design. The painting needs to have a similar “mood or feel” to the design you are creating. This takes care of the psychology portion.

So for example, if I’m creating a graphic for a fall series on the end times and need a scary vibe, I might Google “dark master paintings” and a work by Goya will probably be in the results –perfect color palette.

Or if I need a feminine color palette for a women’s ministry text/graphic combo, I’ll probably utilize an Edgar Degas and his ballet dancer paintings.

3. Prep to Pick

Drag the master painting into Adobe Photoshop. Zoom way in so you can just focus on the colors. Then select an eyedropper tool to pick.

In the options bar, change the sample size of the eyedropper by choosing an option from the Sample Size menu. Use “point sample”; it reads the precise value of the pixel you click.

4. Pick 3 Colors

Select three colors via color picking tool – a dark, medium, and light shade. Do that by color picking (first) your favorite color from the painting. Then look for two other values that compliment it.

If the design requires even more colors, you can pick more, but focusing on three to start off with will ensure a good color foundation.

Other Tips

Here’s a few more tips on picking the perfect colors for your designs.

1. Download an App

There are several apps and online tools available that speed up the color selection process even more.

Pantone Studio App is the best option and lets you extract Pantone swatches from your phone. It can turn an inspiration image (like a master painting) into a workable palette anywhere. You can then save and share those palettes.

2. Don’t Use Presets

Don’t do it.

3. Make a Color Palette Reference Board

Utilize a platform like Pinterest or Evernote to collect color combinations you like. When you are in severe deadline crunch time, just utilize your reference board to find a palette for your project.

4. Save Your Color Palettes

You can potentially repurpose them later.

Of course, you don’t want every graphic you create to have the exact same color scheme. But by switching a few colors here and there you can end up with a very cohesive look and feel (especially if your designs will rest in a campaign next to each other).

So those are my eight tips. What other tips would you recommend for choosing the perfect design colors? Chime in with a comment below.