Expert Tips: Choosing Perfect Storyboard Colors
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Color theory basics for Storyboards
  2. How colors influence audience emotions
  3. Color contrast and harmony
  4. How to select colors for different genres
  5. Color palettes and mood boards
  6. Software tools for color selection
  7. Expert tips for storyboard colors

Creating a stunning storyboard isn't just about drawing compelling scenes — it's also about choosing the right colors. When you're picking colors for your storyboard, you're not just painting pretty pictures. You're setting the mood, guiding the viewer's eye, and telling a story. That's where a storyboard color palette comes in. Let's dive into the world of color theory and see how you can use it to enhance your storyboard.

Color Theory Basics for Storyboards

Understanding color theory is like learning a new language. It's a way to communicate visually, and each color has its own 'vocabulary'. Let's get started with the basics:

  • Primary Colors: Red, blue, and yellow. These are the building blocks of all other colors. You can't create them by mixing other colors.
  • Secondary Colors: Green, orange, and purple. These are made by mixing two primary colors. For instance, blue and yellow make green.
  • Tertiary Colors: These are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary one. Examples include red-orange or blue-green.

Now that we have the basic colors down, let's talk about how they relate to each other. You've probably seen a color wheel before, right? It's not just a pretty circle — it's a tool for understanding color relationships.

Colors that are opposite each other on the wheel are called complementary colors. These pairs (like red and green, or blue and orange) create high contrast when used together. They can make your storyboard scenes pop, but use them carefully: too much contrast can be jarring.

Colors next to each other on the wheel are analogous colors. These combinations (like blue, blue-green, and green) create a more harmonious, calming effect. They're great for setting a specific mood in your storyboard.

Understanding these relationships can help you build a balanced, effective storyboard color palette. But the magic of color theory doesn't stop here. It also helps us understand how colors can influence emotions — but we'll get to that in the next section.

How Colors Influence Audience Emotions

Did you know that colors can make you feel things? It's true! Different colors can evoke different emotions in your audience. This is a key part of using a storyboard color palette effectively. Let's take a look at some common color-emotion associations:

  • Red: This is a color of passion and intensity. It can signal danger, but also love. Think about how you might feel looking at a scene with a red sunrise, red roses, or a red stop sign.
  • Blue: Often associated with calmness and stability. It's the color of a clear sky and a tranquil sea. A scene with a lot of blue might make your audience feel peaceful or sad, depending on the context.
  • Yellow: The color of sunshine and happiness. It's energetic and warm. Use yellow to create a cheerful, inviting atmosphere in your storyboard.
  • Green: Represents nature and growth. It can also symbolize wealth or envy. A forest scene, for example, might evoke feelings of tranquility or longing.
  • Purple: Often associated with royalty and luxury, but also mystery. A purple twilight can create a sense of mystery and anticipation in your storyboard.

Remember, these are just guidelines — the actual impact of a color can vary depending on its shade, tone, and the colors around it. Also, cultural differences can influence how colors are perceived. For example, white is often associated with purity and innocence in Western cultures, but in some Eastern cultures, it's associated with mourning.

The important thing is to think about how your color choices will affect your audience's emotions. By carefully selecting your storyboard color palette, you can guide your audience's emotional journey through your story.

Color Contrast and Harmony

When choosing colors for your storyboard color palette, it's not just about picking individual colors that evoke the right emotions. You also need to think about how your colors will work together. This is where color contrast and harmony come in.

Color contrast is about making different elements of your storyboard stand out from each other. For instance, if you have a character wearing a red shirt against a green background, the contrast between red and green will make the character pop out. This can be useful for highlighting important elements and guiding the viewer's attention.

On the other hand, color harmony is about creating a sense of balance and unity in your storyboard. This can be done by using colors that are close together on the color wheel, like different shades of blue, or colors that share a common color characteristic, like pastels. When your colors are in harmony, your storyboard can feel more cohesive and pleasing to the eye.

So, should you go for contrast or harmony? Well, it depends on what you're trying to achieve with your storyboard. If you want to create tension or highlight differences, color contrast might be the way to go. But if you're aiming for a calm, harmonious feel, you might want to stick with color harmony. Often, it's a matter of finding the right balance between the two.

Keep in mind, though, that contrast and harmony aren't just about colors. They also apply to other elements like shapes, sizes, and textures. So, as you're picking your storyboard color palette, don't forget to consider how your color choices will interact with the rest of your design.

How to Select Colors for Different Genres

Now that you've got a handle on color theory, contrast, and harmony, let's move on to another important part of choosing a storyboard color palette: genre. Whether you're creating a storyboard for a romantic comedy, a gritty thriller, or a high-fantasy epic, the colors you choose can help set the mood and communicate the genre to your audience. Here's how.

Romantic Comedies: Light, warm, and soft colors can give your storyboard that feel-good, romantic vibe. Think pastels like light pink, lavender, or mint green. These colors can make the audience feel comfortable and open to the love story you're about to unfold.

Action & Thrillers: For these types of storyboards, you might want to go with bold, contrasting colors to create a sense of tension and excitement. You could use a mix of dark colors with pops of bright red or orange to signal danger or conflict.

Fantasy & Sci-Fi: These genres allow for a lot of creativity in your color choices. You could opt for ethereal pastels for a fairy-tale feel or bold, otherworldly colors to transport your audience to a different universe. The key is to choose colors that help to build the world of your story.

Remember, these are just guidelines. The most important thing is to choose a storyboard color palette that fits the mood and tone of your story. After all, genre conventions are meant to be played with, not strictly followed. So feel free to experiment and see what works for your storyboard.

Color Palettes and Mood Boards

Now, let's discuss another key step in selecting a storyboard color palette: creating a color palette and mood board. This process will help you visualize what your storyboard will look like and ensure that your color choices work well together.

A color palette is quite simply a selection of colors that you plan to use for your storyboard. This palette should reflect the mood you want to convey and be consistent with the genre of your story. To create a color palette, you can start by choosing a dominant color that will set the tone of your storyboard. From there, you can choose additional colors that complement your dominant color and add depth to your visuals.

On the other hand, a mood board is a collection of images, textures, colors, and other visual elements that inspire you and help set the tone for your storyboard. It's essentially a visual brainstorming tool that can help you narrow down your color choices and create a cohesive look for your storyboard. You can include anything from photographs, illustrations, color swatches, to even fabric samples or pieces of nature.

By creating both a color palette and a mood board, you'll have a clear visual guide to refer back to as you design your storyboard. This will ensure that your color choices are intentional and consistent, creating a more impactful and cohesive visual narrative. And remember, the best storyboard color palette is the one that tells your story most effectively, so don't be afraid to make changes and tweaks as necessary!

Software Tools for Color Selection

Having a well-drawn storyboard is great, but making sure it has the right colors is another thing entirely. This is where software tools for color selection come in handy. They can help you pick the perfect storyboard color palette, and ensure your colors are well balanced and harmonious.

One such tool is Adobe Color. It's an online tool that allows you to create, save, and access color palettes. You can input your dominant color, and it will provide you with complementary, analogous, monochromatic, or triadic color schemes. Plus, it even has an option to extract a color palette from an image, which can be helpful if you're trying to match your storyboard colors to a particular visual reference.

Another useful software is Coolors. It generates color palettes at the click of a button. You can adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness of each color, lock in colors you like, and continue to generate compatible colors until you're satisfied with your storyboard color palette.

Last but not least, Paletton is another excellent choice. It allows you to pick a base color and then generates a full color scheme based on your selection. You can also adjust the contrast of your colors and view your palette under different types of color blindness, which is a great feature for ensuring your storyboard is accessible to all viewers.

All these tools can be incredibly helpful when selecting colors for your storyboard. Remember, the goal is to choose colors that enhance your narrative and engage your audience—so take your time, experiment with different options, and have fun with it!

Expert Tips for Storyboard Colors

Now that we've discussed the tools to help you select your storyboard color palette, let's move on to some expert tips. These will ensure that your storyboard not only looks great but also effectively communicates your story.

1. Use Colors to Set the Mood: Colors can speak volumes. A bright, vibrant color palette can convey joy or excitement, while a more muted or dark palette can evoke a sense of sadness, fear, or mystery. Remember to let your colors reflect the mood of your story.

2. Consistency is Key: Consistency in your color palette helps create a cohesive look and feel throughout your storyboard. If you're using a specific color to represent a character or emotion, keep it consistent throughout the storyboard.

3. Don't Overdo It: While it's tempting to use every color of the rainbow, sometimes less is more. A simple, limited color palette can often be more effective and pleasing to the eye. It can also help avoid any confusion or visual clutter.

4. Test Your Colors: Before finalizing your storyboard color palette, test it out. Check how the colors look next to each other, and ensure they work well together and stand out as needed. This is where the color selection tools we discussed earlier can come in handy.

5. Learn From Others: Take a look at successful storyboards from films, animations, or comics you admire. Analyze their color choices and see what you can learn from them. Remember, inspiration is everywhere!

Choosing the right colors for your storyboard isn't just about making it look good. It's about enhancing the storytelling, setting the mood, and guiding the viewer's eye. So, take these expert tips to heart and enjoy the process of bringing your storyboard to life with color!

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