New Video: Palette Power

by Kirby Ferguson

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The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne

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A palette is a selection of colors from which an artist paints. But palettes don’t just apply to visual art. They apply to just about any kind of creative work.

For instance, the selection of instruments in a song is a palette. Two guitars, a bass, drums and a vocalist is a classic rock palette. If you start plucking a harp half-way through a rock song, it’s probably gonna sound out of place.

Another example, a film’s genre is a palette. When people go see a thriller, they expect certain conventions, like a moment where the hero is at the mercy of the villain. This is an obligatory element of the genre. You can—and should—bend and twist and subvert these rules, but you can’t simply ignore them. If you do, much of the audience will be frustrated with your film and they won’t know why. It’s because you didn’t stick to the palette or at least acknowledge it. For more on this, read Shawn Coyne’s The Story Grid.

Palettes are recurring styles and elements within your work. They simplify your aesthetic and make it feel more unified and cohesive. They can also help organize and structure your work.

Palettes aren’t just for visuals artists. Whatever it is you’re working on, see if you can incorporate the power of palettes.