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The Designer's Guide to Color Combinations [Hardcover]

Leslie Cabarga
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 15 1999

If you're from the "I don't know zip about color - but I know what I like" school of color theory, this book's for you. You won't find color wheels or lectures on color harmony here . . . just 500+ tried-and-true color combinations derived from actual design work - posters, packages, even giftware - created over the past century by designers, artists and color experts. You'll find historical color combinations from the Victorian period, Art Deco era, Far-out Sixties, Rave craze - plus current color combinations, such as limited color, "bad color" and much more. Even if you don't know what you're looking for, you'll know it when you see it here.

It's not just what colors you use, but how you use them. That's why the color combinations in this book are arranged in simple, sample layouts rather than pages of out-of-context swatches. Complete with color formulas in CMYK, these layouts show you which colors work for backgrounds, borders, type, outlines, panels and small text, so you can easily adapt them to your designs.


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Product Description

From Library Journal

This wonderful book is about color and design, but it is not a book of theory that begins with color wheels, primary colors, secondary colors, and color harmony. Instead, it offers design examples from the past century: Victorian, Art Deco, Sixties, Raves, etc., with each illustration including Cmyk color formulas. Cmyk is the color-processing system used by printers and also Photoshop, i.e., you can add in the Cmyk for any color in the book and duplicate it in Photoshop or other paint programs. Along with design examples, there are also chapters on current color styles, limited colors, and "bad color," which actually is pretty cool. Designers will love this book for the examples; others can simply select great colors that go together.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
This is the first volume of two, the second being 'The Designer's Guide To Global Color Combinations. I own both and I regard them as simply unmissable, because I use as well for recreative as practical purposes.
Each page offers a depiction of a work of art, which may be painting, illustration, texture, fabric. The main piece always has a short description (artist, origin, media) and a personal note by the author why the piece is so eyestriking.
All pieces are catalogued according to time and style, so you'll find art deco, popart, contemporary, ... styles but also 'bad' use of color.
However, this is NOT a book about color theory. The approach is subjective and you may find that your views differ with the author because the appreciation of coloruse is personal (which the author also underlines).
Never the less this is also an outstanding objective guide to historical color use during the centuries starting from the late 19th century till now.
For computer artists it also offers CMYK values, as well for the main piece, and variations on it.
If there would be one negative point, it's only that there is not a cd added with all the palettes, so you would not have to type in the values. And, for people operating mainly in RGB color space, as the book cover states: no RGB values. (you'll find these in the second volume, but for some strange reason they were not added in this first volume).
Despite this small point of criticism: this guide is a work of art unique in it's category. There is nothing that even comes close to the work of endurance the author has done, to offer the reader a practical and inspirational guide to color combining.
A guide you'll browse and browse again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars disapointing but still of value Feb. 14 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
the premise of this book is interesting in that it attempts to deconstruct the color content from various art pieces though the past century. I was really excited to recieve the book and was looking forward to reading it, but was disappointed.
Not all of the colors appearing in the piece shown were always represented. And I didn't think that the layouts redone with the chosen colors were creative or accurate in the reflection of the proportions of the pieces' color. In fact in more than one instance, I felt the most important accent color was left out of the breakdown all together. That made me mistrust the accuracy of the paletes presented that were based on other pieces for mthe same time period, but without showing the piece itself.
All in all, the book is interesting from a historical sense, and I will definitely derive some value from it, but i felt it was lacking in it's attention to detail. Unfortunately, because color is all about attention to detail, it's lack of it does undermine the book's intrinsic value.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I use this book all the time. May 17 2000
Format:Hardcover
Better than any other book on color combinations, Leslie Cabarga clarifies not only color harmony but color arrangement. I believe his approach to color harmony makes far more sense than color wheels and rainbow illustrations. By taking good examples throughout history, one can get not only a flavor of what works, but can see the color in context. Some combinations repeat themselves, but in different contexts they look different as well.
By putting in the CMYK percentages, it is very easy to transfer the colors to a computer for immediate use. For those who are artistically challenged (such as this reviewer), there is a refreshing sense to Cabarga's work. He shows very clearly why bad color combinations are such and why good ones that work do in fact work. Each example is provided in a sensible context rather than a stack of colors, and most valuable is Cabarga's use of variations of the same color set to illustrate how radically different the same group of colors look in different arrangements.
I also liked Cabarga's comments about key illustrators and their subject matter--even including expressing doubts about Paul Whiteman being the King of Jazz. Cabarga seems to know his artists and doesn't mind expressing any opinon that comes to mind whether on artists or the state of just about anything. Moreover, his opinions never get in the way of his discussion of color. (Even the opinions are colorful.) It's good to know books are still written by human beings rather than grey committees.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is the color book you've been waiting for! Jan. 23 2000
Format:Hardcover
Sure there are plenty of books about color out there. Some are about color theory, some tend towards technical info about pre-press and separations, etc., and some even include swatches.
I know -- I've wasted a lot of money on them over the years.
This book, however, is unique, and the first one I've found truly useful -- even inspirational.
Cabarga takes choice period artwork (from the Victorian era through ultra-modern rave posters), analyzes the colors, shows you why they work/don't work then actually pulls the colors out in CMYK-specified patches (w/numerical values) and supplies half a dozen or so examples of how to use each palette.
This last feature is extremely useful: swatches without examples are virtually useless, and swatches without CMYK numerical values (or Pantone) can leave you guessing.
Need a Victorian look? Want that 1950's Atomic feel? It's all here, and wrapped up in a breezy and humorous narrative that make the book a fun read as well as super informative.
Highly recommended!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
I like this book, it has a good layout and some nice colour schemes, though felt that it could have been better if it offered more schemes per section. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Thomas H. Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Illustrator's CMYK dream come true!
This book is a wonderful quick reference for illustrators hoping to capture the feeling of a particular era with color. Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2006 by Heather Castles
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing resource book...
I love this book, it makes my life so much easier coming up with color combinations that work. The best part is that it covers over a century's worth of color schemes, from dark... Read more
Published on June 14 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars If I'd ever lose it, I'd buy it again!
This book fulfilled every expectation I had prior to its arrival, that is - it's not a color theory book in any way. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2002 by Gustavo Santos
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical Inspiration
Rather than just show color combinations in a vacuum, this book uses real examples from different design periods to demonstrate the use of color. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2001 by FKC
1.0 out of 5 stars Ho Hum
I bought this book as an idea resource and was quickly sorely dissapointed. This book is full of bland, boring and downright ugly color combinations. Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars A good color swatch book
This book is a neat collection of color combinations from different eras, complete with CMYK color codes. Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2000 by Adam F. Jewell
1.0 out of 5 stars Why bother?
There is very little of value in this book.
The author has compiled color combinations that she has found in the world around us, and she has even gone so far as to give... Read more
Published on April 7 2000 by Matt McDowall
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, color in context
This book is more useful than any other swatchbook I've owned. The reader is guided, era by era, through a color history, with an interesting and often humorous analysis. Read more
Published on March 29 2000 by David Gross
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
To tell you the truth, I wasn't all that impressed with this book. Personally, I found the "sample layouts" distracting, rather than helpful. Read more
Published on March 6 2000 by J. Nordstrom
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