Color Index XL: A Handy Resource for Artists and Graphic Designers

As a graphic designer, I'm always looking for tools and resources to enhance my skills and get me creatively inspired. I especially like dabbling with different color schemes. Recently, I was introduced to a fabulous new book that I can't seem to put down. Color Index XL by Jim Krause is my latest design resource that has been giving me all kinds of color palette inspirations for future design projects.

Color Index XL provides aspiring designers, artists, and creative individuals working with color with an indispensable, one-stop method for reviewing and selecting current, up-to-date color palettes for their creative projects. Designer and lecturer Jim Krause's classic resource is back with a new approach that presents each group of palettes in an oversized form for easy visual review, and bleeding to the edge of the page (edge indexing) for quick access. By providing variations for each palette, Krause ensures that creatives can find the best color selection for each project's needs. This book serves as the perfect resource for teachers, students, and professionals of all kinds in the art and design space who want to stay up-to-date on the ever-evolving trends in color.

Jim Krause has been a graphic designer since the early 1980s. Over the years, he has worked for clients large and small, including Microsoft, Levi Strauss, and Seattle public schools. He began writing books about design and creativity in 1999 and has written one a year since that time, having published approximately 15 books.

Color Index XL contains over 1100 color palette combinations for graphic designers or pretty much anyone else who needs ideas for their artwork. Since the colors are all laid out in a book, I can physically see what something is going to look like in print form, which is really nice. From my personal and professional experience this is always helpful, because what you see on the computer screen typically strays from what it's really going to look like on paper.

Each palette in this book contains a set of five different colors. Everything is printed on large, high-quality glossy pages. There are combinations that are bold, while others are more understated. Some come in a set of colors that are complementary to each other and then there are others that are more triadic. The book is divided into three sections, warmer palettes (red, orange, yellow), mixed palettes, and cooler palettes (green, blue, violet). Each page that displays a color combination offers it in four different versions, brighter, darker, lighter, and muted. 

While I love everything about this book, I do have two favorite features. One is the handy formula listing in each color combination, as well as the four different versions. Not only did the author include the CMYK formula, which is handy for print projects, but he also included the RGB formula for digital work. The second handy feature that I truly appreciate is that he made sure to have the colors bleed to the edge of the page. Since there are over 1100 color combinations and you may not be able to glance at each page every single time you're looking for something, you can flip through and see the colors in a snap. Having the colors printed right up to the page edges also allows me to match the palette to a second piece of print art in order to compare or see what may or may not work.

Whether or not you're a professional designer or like to dabble in graphic design during your free time, this book is definitely one to keep as a handy resource. I also love that it's oversized, so you really get a grasp at the hues on each page. Another feature that I almost forgot to mention is actually in the beginning of the book. The author offers a short chapter on color theory. I remember when I was in college, this was one of the first "official" lessons that I personally had in graphic design, and it will definitely come in handy for anyone who is aspiring to be a designer or would simply like to have a basic knowledge of how colors work.