Odes Roberts is an in-house designer for Shutterstock. This post was originally published on the Shutterstock blog and has been reprinted with permission.


I love color. I especially appreciate bright, vivid colors that make you feel like you’re in another world. With summer coming to my neighborhood, I’ve been inspired to look for more vivid and stunning color-harmony arrangements.

Color harmony creates a balance that’s pleasing to the eye. When imagery isn’t harmonious, it becomes either boring or chaotic. At one extreme is a visual experience so bland that the viewer isn’t connected to what he or she is looking at, while at the other is an experience so overdone that the viewer can’t stand to look at it. Color harmony delivers both visual interest and a sense of order.

Here are some examples of great color harmony, along with the color codes in each palette. Try using any of these to create your own pleasing imagery, or share your own favorite combinations in the comments!

static.squarespace2 730x551 The key to color harmony: Avoiding boredom and chaosA basic but effective use of color and harmony is important so that no single color feels out of place. The end result is pleasant and inspiring, yet simple.

static.squarespace 12 730x673 The key to color harmony: Avoiding boredom and chaosSometimes with highly saturated photos, colors tend to blow out. In this image, the color still maintains its potency and effect. The icy texture of the model’s hair is also balanced by the pink of the background.

static.squarespace 22 730x598 The key to color harmony: Avoiding boredom and chaosBright reds and vintage browns make all the shapes and textures pop in the background without seeming too chaotic.

static.squarespace 32 730x910 The key to color harmony: Avoiding boredom and chaosThis light blue/green background makes the model stand out. It also shifts the emphasis to the color of her eyes.

static.squarespace 41 730x749 The key to color harmony: Avoiding boredom and chaosThe green in this photo accents the warm rays of a setting sun. Pinks and greens of different shades also help make the darker colors of this image blend naturally.