Graphic Design: The Secret Color

In Ark: Awakening there are a lot of different rooms that you explore, and we have different art for all those rooms. So, this presented a challenge.

See the image on the right. What can you notice? It looks confusing! All the rooms next to each other and the mind baffles where to look and what to focus on.


So, to address the problem I was thinking of different solutions:

  • add black or white boarders around each image. Or at least a color gradient to focus the eye better.
  • fiddle with the opacity of the art
  • make the icons and more important parts more visible
  • color code certain images to more easily find.

But all these ideas did not produce a result that I liked. I felt that the last item was the way with most potential, so I started experimenting with colors and which ones were best to notice. And then I realized: The most noticeable color to the human mind, was NO COLOR – NO NOTHING, NO ROOM TILE.

For example … see the images left and right. They both have the same number of room tiles – actually the only change is that the green tile is moved.

Now, look away and then try to sketch without seeing where each room is. It is much more easy with the image on the right, because there is a empty space next to each image. The pattern on the left is just a blob – a rectangle. But the human mind remembers the pattern on the right better, the imperfection of the positioning of the room tiles. And because the mind remembers the pattern, it remembers where each room tile approximately is. The mind NEEDS the empty spaces so it can navigate easier.

So there you go … use the absence of something to catch the player’s attention. The secret color to use is NOTHING.