February 2018 Project Results - Floral Patterns

Last day of February! I really enjoyed working on my floral patterns this month. I picked three of my favorites and created a mini collection of finished pieces.

Here are the original sketches. I united the three different ideas into one color palette, which is based on Pantone's Floral Fantasies theme.


And here are the final patterns, created as vector art in Illustrator.


Here are some alternate versions with simpler one and two color palettes.


Thanks for following along with me! It was nice to accomplish something for myself that I can now add to my portfolio. I'm loving my monthly personal project idea so far! Stay tuned for something new in March...

Sincerely, Nicole


Pantone - Ultra Violet

This Month's Theme is...COLOR

Beyond Basic Color Theory—Four Things More Important Than the Color Wheel

How I Find My Colors

The Pantone Color of the Year: Ultra Violet

This year's "Color of the Year" according to Pantone, a leading color resource for designers, is Ultra Violet (Pantone 18-3838). It is a blue-based purple hue that is inspired by the night sky.


Some of the words Pantone uses in association with Ultra Violet include:

  • complex
  • contemplative
  • cosmos
  • limitless
  • unconventional
  • experimentation
  • meditation
  • reflection

I would definitely encourage you to check out Pantone's full description on their website. Ultra Violet is definitely a color that can inspire me, given my preference for deep, vivid colors. I love how Pantone seeks to make it a symbol of unlimited possibilities. Definitely motivating for artists!

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you go to their website, Pantone offers some suggested color palettes that include Ultra Violet. I used a couple of these in some of my floral pattern sketches as part of my monthly project.


What do you think of Pantone's Color of the Year? Does it inspire you? Do you feel differently after reading Pantone's description? I'd love to know your thoughts!

Sincerely, Nicole


Pantone - Ultra Violet

This Month's Theme is...COLOR

Beyond Basic Color Theory—Four Things More Important Than the Color Wheel

How I Find My Colors


February 2018 Floral Patterns, Part 1

Well, I'm halfway through the month of February, and so far I've managed to take time to sketch a floral pattern every day. (Read more about my project here.) If you're not following along on Instagram, here is a summary of what I've done up to this point.

What do you think? Do you have any favorites? Please, let me know!

Sincerely, Nicole


This Month's Theme is . . . COLOR

@nicolejonessturk on Instagram

Where I Find My Colors

Now that I've discussed how to create an effective color palette, let me also mention that there's another way easier method—just use a color palette that already exists! When I'm working on a new design, I don't always develop my color scheme from scratch. I am constantly finding color inspiration and building a library of swatches and palettes that I can pull from when I need it. If I already have one on hand that would work great for my project, I take it and tweak it to fit my needs.

Color Palette Resources

There are numerous resources out there for finding color palettes. These are just a few that I use myself on a regular basis:


Is there no greater design resource? I mean, really, this one of my top places to find ideas for ANYTHING—art, cooking, crafts, home, and more. Nothing could be easier than typing "color palettes" into the search bar and seeing what pops up. You can get lost for hours pinning away.

Websites and apps

There are a number of websites and mobile apps tailored just for creating and discovering colors. You can view the palettes created by members of the community, or create your own. I've linked to a list of good sites and apps below.

Other art, patterns, photos

Use the above mentioned mobile apps and your camera phone to pull colors from physical items, such as photos, artwork, fabric swatches, or nature.


Pantone is a standard color resource for designers and always a good place to start. They offer a number of products and resources for designers, including their own palettes that you can download for use in Adobe applications, such as Photoshop or Illustrator. (Psst... Stay tuned for more on my take on 2017's Pantone Color of the Year, Ultra Violet.)

Color Palette Inspiration

For some instant inspiration, here are some favorite color schemes I like that I've come across lately:

I feel that I tend to lean towards deep, saturated colors, especially jewel tones.


I'm also a sucker for anything with pink or red, my favorite colors. Pink and green tends to be my default color combination when I'm sketching florals.


Autumn hues make me happy because they remind me of my favorite time of year.


I love to see bright pops of color in more desaturated palettes.


Examples in My Work

Spoonflower occasionally uses a limited palette to inspire one of their weekly design challenges. Here are a couple that I've participated in.


This last design was created for the current design challenge. It's open to public voting on February 15th and closes on the 20th. (EDIT: Voting now closed)

I hope you are excited to get out there and explore all the color around you. Till next time!

Sincerely, Nicole


This Month's Theme is...COLOR

Beyond Basic Color Theory—Four Things More Important Than the Color Wheel

My Pinterest COLOR board

Color Meaning, Symbolism, And Psychology: What Do Different Colors Mean (a great article on the meanings of different colors)

Web and mobile app resources

12 Best Color Scheme Generator Web Apps for Designers (Designmodo)


Browse color palettes online:



Color Palettes

Beyond Basic Color Theory—Four Things More Important Than the Color Wheel


Primary, secondary, tertiary,  monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split-complementary, triad, warm, cool, neutral... Do you need to memorize all these terms? In my opinion—no. If you're anything like me, when you begin a project, you don't sit down with the color wheel and think, maybe I'll use a split-complementary color scheme in warm hues. Maybe you do—no judging here—but I think it's a more intuitive process for most people, meaning a lot of experimenting and playing around.

OK, well, I lied. If you're serious about art (and I'm assuming you are if you're reading this) than you should at least learn the basics. I mean, if you're physically mixing paint colors, obviously you need to know how colors blend together. (For instance, did you know that combining complementary colors creates a neutral? I talk more about this later...) If you're working professionally, or plan to in the future, you'll want to be able to communicate with your clients about color. I'm not going to go into all those terms in depth here, though—there are plenty of resources out there about color theory. I simply want to talk about the process of creating a color palette.

What's MORE important than knowing the color wheel inside and out is knowing what it is that makes a color palette effective. There are no hard and fast rules saying you can't combine one color with any of the others. It's how you do it. You'll also need to consider the purpose for your piece, as well as the mood you are trying to evoke so that you choose a color scheme that helps attain those end goals. By all means, you can (and should) still play around with your colors, but it's good to have a little knowledge to back up your decisions, and perhaps make the process more efficient for you. Here are four things that I feel are more important than knowing whether your palette is analogous or tertiary...


1. Contrast

Whenever I create a design that I think looks (for lack of a better word) boring, 90% of the time I can trace it back to a lack of contrast—more specifically, contrast of values (or lights and darks). I think contrast is one of the key elements of a good color palette. Without it, a design tends to look flat and uninteresting. To achieve good value contrast, usually you want one nice dark color, one very light color, and a variety of shades in between. Sometimes it can be difficult to accurately assess your light/dark contrast when you become distracted by the different hues and shapes (for instance, bright colors might seem lighter than they actually are), so one trick is to look at your design, or palette, with squinted eyes. It also helps to stand at a distance. The idea is to blur out the image so all you see is the impression of how the lights and darks are working in your piece. If you're working digitally, you can also simply view your piece in grayscale mode. If your design looks like all one boring shade of gray, you might want to tweak your palette.


2. Harmony

Now that I've addressed the need for variety and contrast in a design, I must also add that the colors must, of course, still work together as one, creating harmony. Here are a few ways to create color harmony:

Use similar hues

This could be a two colors like blue and green, or different shades of one color (this would be analogous or monochromatic if you want to get all technical). This isn't always the most fun way to go, so luckily there are other ways to create harmony...

Monochromatic color scheme

Monochromatic color scheme


You may already know that blues and purples are considered "cool" while reds and oranges are "warm," but to go further, there are warm and cool variations of all hues. You can absolutely have a warm palette that includes blue, or a cool palette with red—but whether warm or cool, it should be either one or the other, not a mix.

Cool colors

Cool colors

Warm colors

Warm colors


This refers to how bright or dull a color appears. Highly saturated colors are pure and vivid, while less saturated colors are more muted and neutral, which happens when you mix black or white to a base color (also referred to as "tints" and "shades"). Going back to that color wheel (yeah, I guess it does come in handy) mixing a hue with its complement (or a color that appears across from it) will also make a color more neutral. Having similar levels of saturation throughout your palette can help create harmony. That being said, you'll probably still want to reserve the brightest, most saturated colors to add "pops" of color and accents, since bombarding the eye with too many saturated colors throughout your piece can cause visual fatigue (this goes back to the idea of contrast). That's not to say you can't have all bright or all soft colors in your design. There's mood and purpose to consider as well...

3. Mood and Purpose

When you start a piece, do you ask yourself why you're creating it? For example, if you're designing a surface pattern, what is the end purpose—fabric for quilting, wallpaper, clothing? Who are you making this for? The answers to these questions should be directing your decisions throughout the entire process, including color choices. There are a few key points to consider regarding mood:

Psychology of Color

There are deep connections between color and emotions. They can spark feelings of excitement, peace, fun, anger, happiness... you get the picture. You can also use color to convey moods, such as rustic, natural, or urban. People have written loads about the psychology of color, and it is interesting to research. When you approach your design, step back and look at your colors and focus on the emotions and images they evoke. Are those the same ideas you want your overall design to present?

Holidays and seasons

People make automatic associations between specific colors and holidays and seasons. One obvious example is pairing Christmas with red and green. It's good to keep this in mind if you're designing a seasonal piece.

Your Audience

Evaluate who your design needs to appeal to and let that guide your color decisions as well. For example, soft pastels are often used in feminine or baby designs. Darks and neutrals are more masculine. Designs aimed at toddlers and kids are usually full of bright, saturated colors.

4. Finally, there are always exceptions.

When it comes to color, there are no solid rules. Use your intuition and do what looks and feels right to you. Perhaps take these guidelines, and turn them upside down to create something unexpected. Sometimes breaking the rules makes the most impact!

I hope you find these guidelines helpful. As always, enjoy the process. Art—and color—is fun!

Sincerely, Nicole


 This Month's Theme is...COLOR