How to use colour to your advantage in design
Ott 11, 2016 - DESIGN
Olivier Stapylton-Smith

Roses are red, violets are blue, how to make colours an advantage to you... Finding the right colour combinations is central to creating a successful design. If your design simply isn’t gripping your audience enough, they’ll find another option. So how do we avoid losing sales because of a colour catastrophe? Well, first we have to learn how to be colour clever...


Companies all over the world use colour to their advantage, fast food chains like McDonalds use red and yellow to make you rush in and out of their restaurants, as fast as the fries are made. However, recently they've even been moving toward green borders on their stores to give you those natural, fresh produce vibes. Believe it or not, these minor changes in colour actually work. According to Helpscout, researchers found that up to 90% of quick decisions people make about products are based only on the colour of the product itself.

So, when you include them in your designs, you should make sure that you use colours that portray the feelings you want to associate with your brand.


It’s important to understand who your audience is when you’re choosing what colours to use in your design. If you’re starting a clothing line and you’re appealing to a female audience, Kissmetrics suggests using blues, purples and greens because they will appeal more than oranges, browns and greys.

Blue is a great colour because it appeals to both men and women as well as being calming and helping to cultivate trust. Which is great for building a fanbase. You need to find out what colours will appeal to your audience and build your design from that.


Sometimes it's best just to use one or two colours on your shirt. T-shirt designs that are simple actually tend to have an higher sell rate than ones that are more complicated in design. Not only do they sell more, but simple t-shirt designs are also cheaper to print, which means more profit for you! The most important part is getting your message across in a way that appeals to your audience. The two best ways of doing this are by using complementary colours or analogous hues.

Complementary colours

You can make your design eye-catching by using colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel. This will make your design more striking, making you stand out from the competition. However this can mean that your design might be a little intense, so if you're looking to give off a more relaxed message you should try...


Monochromatic colour

This is the most simple method; you pick a colour that suits your brand and audience and you stick with it. Using different tones and shades you can create something which fits within the style you're looking for. If you want to show off a warm, energetic feeling then go with an orange; or maybe you want a cool and collected feel, then go for blue.



When it comes to adding more colour to designs, some designers recommend the 60:10:30 method (3 colours split into 60, 10 and 30 percent of the image) as a useful technique for distributing colour. However, using three colours isn't actually the best approach for designing your own t-shirts.

At Moteefe, we've found that shirts using 3 or 4 colours sell considerably less (9% and 7% of sales respectively) than shirts with 5 colours or more, and the more colours you add to your design, the more it will cost to print. A higher production cost means less profit on each sell.

Most t-shirt designers will keep cutting into your profit margin for every new colour that you add and this will seriously limit your creative freedom in design. However here at Moteefe we will only charge you for a maximum of 5 colours, always. This means if you want to produce a vibrant design, beaming with loads of different colours, then you can and you won't be penalised for it.


When you’re looking to design a unique shirt, you need to believe in the power of colours. Make sure you’re using the right ones for your target audience, this is key. Don’t use pink on a design for a masculine audience. Keeping it simple will make your shirts cheaper to print which means more profits for you. But if you want to get crazy with colour, don’t worry we have you covered, with Moteefe you don’t need to worry about losing money or limiting your creativity.



Stay up to date
Others you might like