Understanding and Mastering the Art of Ombre Design

Understanding and Mastering the Art of Ombre Design
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November 19, 2019

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The term Ombre Design refers to the gradual blending of one hue of a colour to another. Generally, the progression is from light tints and shades towards darker tints and shades. The effect has gained wide popularity in multiple platforms such as; book cover design, book design, interior design, home décor and also graphic design and website design.

Such design practices are known for representing drama and mood swings. It has a French derivation from the word “ombrer” that essentially means ‘to shade’.

Let’s understand the various implications of Ombre Design:

1. Book Design:


In the above mentioned example, you can see how the book uses a subtle yet very attracting ombre design at the centre of the page. The centre of the book has a darker shade of teal, dispersing off to lighter shades outwards. This helps create an atmospheric vibe. It helps guide the reader to the centre of the book, giving them a visual direction to follow when reading the book.

The design helps the reader’s eye gravitate towards the centre. This helps in managing focus and keeping the reader engaged.  The darker shade of ombre creates drama. Note that the use of such design element doesn’t compromise on the legibility of the print text. A good designer would always take care of such aspects when using such design practices.

2. Paintings:


Ombre is often considered or used as an abstract element that is added to a design. However, many designers see the potential of inculcating Ombre principles to enhance the elements of their original design. If we talk about this painting, you can see the different gradient that is used throughout the painting for showing the depth of field and layering.

The forests are deep and saturated with blue that eventually gradates to lighter tones and distant light as we go up towards the sky. This shows how Ombre can be used to express distance and depth.  This proves there is no particular method of creating an Ombre design.

3. Interior Design:

Using Ombre in interior design is a new trend, but it has caught on quick to grab many interior designers attention. It is based on the colour transition from the darker tones to the light tones. Even from one tint to another can be considered as Ombre. This is also known as degradation or gradient. There are many ways you can use Ombre in designing office or home spaces.

 Ombre in wall decorations:


Walls are the most noticeable element of any room. You can use Ombre in any wall of any room. The key is to find the right tone.  Executing such ideas require a careful and knowledgeable approach. To bring the idea you have to reality, the painter/artist should know how exactly to give the right strokes and texture to create the Ombre effect.

Generally, it is difficult to make such art on such a big canvas as a wall. However, if done correctly, it would enhance the look of the room significantly.

Interior walls:

However, when you’re applying Ombre to the interiors of a wall, one important thing to remember is that if the room is smaller and has low ceilings, you should use the darkest shades at the bottom. Then transition to lighter colours on your way up.

Doing so would help elevate the visual height of the space, psychologically. If you have a spacious room to play around with, you need not stick to this rule and could experiment with Ombre in any directions you want.

Decoration of windows:

The textile industry didn’t miss out on the trend of Ombre Design. By using fabric that is suitable for ombre design, many manufacturers have implemented such design principles in designing window curtains of different materials such as silk, cotton, jute and linen.  Using gradient on such a platform creates a sense of lightness.

The designers generally go for handstrokes to give it a carefree feel that makes it look natural. However, the strokes are still picturesque and not bizarre. Such design practices work best when they complement the furniture of the room in subtle yet effective ways.

Ombre Design in Furniture:


Using Ombre Design in furniture has led to some interesting dynamics in interiors.  Ombre is generally used in frames a lot. For instance, you have cabinets, which have drawers and doors provided. You could colour the cabinets yourself by simply taking one can of white colour and another can of the colour you want to paint.

Just by mixing and experimenting with the white and the desired colour ratio, you can create shades with different saturation for the cabinets. This helps create an Ombre effect.

4. Cosmetics:


There are various options available as far as colour range goes in the world of cosmetics. This opens up a big scope for experimenting with Ombre effects for makeup. An ombre effect can be achieved by blending two or more shades and applying it on lips, eyes or even cheeks. The concept of dark to light is similar to a concept that already exists in cosmetics which is contouring.

Contouring is a process where different shades and tints of natural skin tones are blended. However, the major difference between ombre and contouring is that contouring is used to sculpt a face to look a certain way artificially. In contrast, ombre is just mixing of two shades or more in any format.



In the world of cooking and baking, the presentation plays an important role. It holds just as much value as the taste, the preparation and the accuracy of the dish. Probably a bit more, as it is the first interaction the customers has with the dish that forms their first impression about it.

Hence a lot of professional bakers have realized the advantage of using Ombre design elements in the frosting of their cake, or individual baking layer in gradual tones from light to dark. They also use the dyeing and stacking method to achieve an ombre fade.

6. Hairstyles:


Hairstyle trends are quick to change and are constantly evolving. This also makes them most open for experimentation, and they readily accept any trend. Ombre design is no exception to this rule.  Many hairstylists have realized that Ombre texture while highlighting hair adds depth and layers to the hairstyle. Many consumers are also readily willing to experiment with Ombre shades of hair colour. It looks ‘well thought of’ and beautiful compared to flat colours most of the times.

Generally, for hair colour, the idea is to have a dramatic two-toned hair colour effect. The hair is generally darker at the top and lighter at the bottom. Many colour combinations work well, like natural blonde, brown or red or even some unconventional colours if someone’s confident enough like pink, green, purple and more.

7. Graphic Design:

Ombre Design got popularity for its tangible aesthetics initially in industries like interiors, textiles and furniture. It has also made its way into graphic and website design.  Whether it is for creating logos or using elements of Ombre design in wallpapers, or any other such use, several designers are now seeing the value of using Ombre design.

For the same reason, any designer must know how to create their own Ombre Design. Let’s look at the 5 step process:

How to Create Your Ombre Design

Creating different layers:


For this instance, we would use an image of interlocking arrow pattern. For starting out, we create a white background layer. Later add a black arrows layer. Finally, add a paper texture layer so that the gradation blends and diffuses properly.

 Working on the individual layers:


Now select the contents of the Black Arrows layer by pressing control and clicking its thumbnail. After this, select the arrow and highlight the new gradient fill layer. Now click on the layer, go to Layer Mask and finally Reveal Selection. Doing so would blend the gradient fill layer in the shape of the arrows. Now you don’t need the Black Arrow layer.

Now go to the White background layer, and replace it with another gradient layer.  You don’t need to create a mask for this layer. It already masked by the arrows from the above layer.  You can now control the changes in the right-facing arrows and left-facing arrows separately.

Working with Gradients:


Open Gradient editor situated at the left. When you open it, you would see there are small swatches on the bottom and the top. Use the top swatches to control opacity. We leave the left side of this gradient to be 100 per cent opaque (black) and the right side to be 100 per cent transparent (white).

Now switch the swatches situated below. These can help choose the colour of the gradient. For our understanding, we would use blue and green. They are complementary colours as per colour theory. With the concept of dark to light, make necessary adjustments to both the colours by creating subtle differences in the background arrows to that of foreground arrows.

Add a Brightness/Contrast Layer:


Now to further enhance our Ombre design, we can add a brightness and contrast layer. This would further distinguish the transition from light to dark. By doing this, we can refine the design without having to use all the functions of the gradient editor. This eases the process and gives you more control over the adjustments.

Add a Hue/Saturation layer:


Now to wrap it up, we use a hue/saturation layer that allows us to try different colour palettes. Drag the hue slider left and right to make the necessary adjustments until you find what works best for you.

8. Website Design:


Many bloggers have been very inspired by the use of Ombre Design in their blog pages for adding a sense of aesthetical value. It has become a popular trend.  Ombre Design adds a subtle yet effective touch to a blog’s design.  The reason it works the best is it isn’t overwhelming to look at and not even as boring as a flat single solid colour. For creating an Ombre Design in your website, you can take help of a CSS Tool for the coding.  Let’s understand how we can use Ombre Design on our website.

Firstly, visit any of the CSS Gradient resources like the Ultimate CSS Gradient Generator. Secondly, create your gradient by either selecting a preset from the top or creating your mix. Double click the coloured boxes that are situated below the gradient bar for changing the colours.  You can drag the colours left or right for increasing or decreasing the fade between them.  If the two colour boxes are close to each other, they create a hard line; however, if you pull them further apart, they start creating a fade. Chose the Orientation next, once satisfied with the gradient. The Orientation of your gradient can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

Once you’re done tweaking all such modifications and are satisfied with the resulted Ombre design, copy the resulting CSS and paste it in your website’s CSS style sheet, inside body tag:


Now you have an overall understanding of Ombre Design and its various applications. It is used in many industries, and you can draw inspiration for your next website design or graphic design assignment from all the various available sources of inspiration.  From home décor, furniture, interiors, paintings or even book designs, you can practice your Ombre Design anywhere on any surface. Hence to conclude, this was an insight on understanding and mastering the art of Ombre Design.

Written by Harsh Raval

Harsh is a skilled graphic designer, digital marketing consultant, web developer, and content creator. With more than 10 years of experience in content creation, Harsh is dedicated to contributing engaging and thorough graphic and web design articles to Line25.

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