Social Media

Why You Should Use Color Schemes for Instagram

Color schemes ugh I know what you think. Why is this woman talking about colors and color wheels? Is this elementary school? Just give me a nice preset or filter, and that’s it.
I promise you, I’m working on that too 😉 but understanding the basics of color theory can take you so far! By learning the very basics, you will know what goes with what, which leads to harmony and essentially a cohesive feed. Isn’t that what we all want?

Remember how we talked about the importance of negative space in the 5 Things to Instantly Improve Your Instagram post? That is the very same with colors. Let me quote from because their explanation is so on point.

“In visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience. When something is not harmonious, it’s either boring or chaotic.”

Colors can take you to extremes. Either it doesn’t touch and engage you at all, so you just scroll further on your feed or it is so over the top that it seems chaotic and you just cannot look at it.

“In summary, extreme unity leads to under-stimulation, extreme complexity leads to over-stimulation. Harmony is a dynamic equilibrium.”

If you are interested in the meanings of colors, what emotions they evoke, check out this page it is extremely useful.

Color Harmonies

To achieve harmony, we use the color wheels and certain patterns to take colors from them. These are known formulas, so treat them as your basics. Of course, as I always say, don’t be afraid to experiment after you laid your foundation.

For now, let me introduce you 4 color schemes that you can use when you design your feed, decide what colors to use or you just simply want to know which colors match perfectly. There are more than 4 color schemes, but in my opinion, these ones are perfect for Instagram especially.

Graphics are the property of Quackit.

Monochromatic Color Schemes


Not everybody mentions this one when they are talking about color schemes. However, this is widely popular on Instagram. Basically, you take any base hue and then play around with its shades, tones, and tints. The usual themes include the black and white, blue and nude ones.
These types of feeds require self-discipline and a lot of color correction. I’m planning to release a post only about color correction as it helps tremendously with the overall look of your Instagram feed.

Complementary Color Schemes


You take one color and its opposite from the other side of the feed. This generates eye-catching looks and draws attention to your feed enhancing your subjects.

Split-Complementary Color Schemes


Similar to the complementary color scheme, you take colors from the opposite side of the wheel but now you are also adding a third one almost next to a chosen color. This enhances the ‘feel’ of your feed, depending on the fact whether you go with a cooler or warmer color as an extra.

Analogous Color Schemes


With this scheme, you are using three colors that are located beside each other on the color wheel. They smoothly complement each other, creating a very subtle look, which is my second favorite look for Instagram, after the monochromatic approach.

Few Examples for the Instagram feeds

Keep in mind, that you cannot color correct all the colors in the world and the schemes are not something to religiously stick to. Also, I recommend to always choose one color that dominates your feed and the rest should complement your main color.

Check out and follow all of these creators, because they set such good examples when it comes to Instagram feeds.

An analogous color scheme can look so good as a theme and if you need to spice it up a little, then throw a little red or shades of pink in there just to have something that pops.

example analogous color schemes

Or add colors to the highlights! The following is a complementary color scheme, emphasizing teal and orange shades and highlights. Extra tip: orange and teal colors are also used during color grading for footages to make it more cinematic!

example of complementary color schemes

On the following feed you can find a perfect example of a subtle split-complementary scheme, using pastel green, pink and orange/brown.

example of split-complementary color schemes

The world is your oyster! Don’t be afraid to try this new skill out, here are some links where you can create your own color palettes using color wheels.


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