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Designing in Monochrome
Image courtesy of  Girlfriend Collective

Image courtesy of Girlfriend Collective

Image courtesy of Girlfriend Collective


One of the latest trends in fashion, interior design, web design, graphic design, and undoubtedly across branding and packaging design relates to color – in its most simple form. The one-color palette, or monochromatic color scheme, has proven again and again to be a timeless trend and creative way to express brand identity. If executed well, a monochromatic design can make any design shine with cohesive elegance.


  • Hue – synonymous with “color.” (Includes all primary and secondary colors)

  • Shade – The addition of pure black to any color to make it darker.

  • Tone – The addition of gray to any color to make it richer.

  • Tint – The addition of white to any color to make it lighter.

Via 99designs.com

Via 99designs.com

Monochromatic means to use a single hue. Color is a general term used to denote different tints, tones or shades of one hue. A hue is the root or base color, and becomes a color by the addition of white, gray or black. A monochromatic scheme begins with a hue and any additional colors used in the palette would be variations of that hue in shades, tints, or tones. Summary: there is only one main color in the design (i.e., red) instead of the combination of various colors and hues.


When effectively applying color to a design project, one needs balance and the more colors applied to a design, the more complicated it is to achieve balance. With a monochromatic color scheme, the options are still limitless, but balance is more easily attainable.

Alongside the wide range of versatility, the one-color palette creates a harmonious and cohesive look/feel while letting your content and design shine on its own. The simplicity of having one hue of various tints, tones, and shades showcases a common theme and can help associate brands with a memorable color. In addition, this one color scheme may ultimately make your job as a designer a little easier without having to pick colors and wonder if they complement one another.

In the end, you’re able to expand your color choices with a monochromatic color scheme without overwhelming your design with a rainbow of colors.


When developing color palettes for our clients, we typically start with mood boards to depict the look, tone, and feel. Here are a few examples that demonstrate monochromatic color schemes and the inspiration behind each.