Los Angeles Times Field Notes: Color

Like most daily newspapers in America, the Los Angeles Times uses color sparingly. Most of the display and body text is black against the white page, so only the photographs have color. This works well for the Los Angeles Times because the pops of color encourage readers to see the photographs first, or at least second (after the headlines).

On the front page, everything is black and white with color photographs. Having the photographs in color with seemingly no manipulation conveys the Los Angeles Times’ mission of fair and honest journalism. Unlike magazines, newspapers don’t typically stylize photos with color filters because that kind of manipulation goes against photojournalism ethics. This is key for how the paper is perceived by its readership – the more real and natural the photos look, the more the images can be trusted by readers.

The Los Angeles Times does utilize pops of color in the display copy of some sections, as pictured below. This helps distinguish these sections as being different from A1 stories. It also helps give the section a bit more personality. Using red in this “Back story” section gives a sense of urgency. We often see the color red used in breaking news packages online and on TV, which helps communicate that something is important, like a flashing red emergency siren.

It seems The Los Angeles Times only uses black and white photographs when it’s necessary. The image below was naturally black and white, so the newspaper had no choice but to run it as such. The only pop of color on this page is the photograph of the two people below the dominant image.

The rest of the paper follows the same color guidelines, with some of the section fronts getting color treatments. For example, the business section has a green flag background because green is associated with money. The state news section name is orange, perhaps hearkening to the sunny, warm nature of California. The newspaper doesn’t repeat the colors it uses in these section flags.

The most colorful page in The Los Angeles Times, on a regular news day, is the comics page. Half of the spread is in black and white, while the other half is in full color. Having such a bright comics page helps the reader distinguish between serious news and lighthearted comics.

The lack of color throughout this publication gives readers the impression that the content should be taken seriously. In fashion and other design, black and white is often perceived as the height of sophistication. It’s important for newspapers to be taken seriously by the public because if their content is not respected as trustworthy information, the publication’s reputation is at stake.


National Geographic Field Notes: Color

Outside of color images, National Geographic uses only 2 colors: black and a goldenrod yellow. 

Each cover is edged with a yellow frame, which gives the publication a vintage look, draws the eye to it sitting on a shelf, and carries the eye to the cover photo. The yellow frame is an element that is noticed but quickly disappears in lieu of the dynamic cover images.

Headlines, subheads, display text is always black or white, body text is black, and the yellow is used as an accent. Though used sparingly, the yellow adds dimension to the page.

The yellow is also used for color blocking, which adds more to the vintage aesthetic.

Minimal use of color allows National Geographic to highlight profound images without solely relying on the images to provide color. Splashes of yellow draw the eye but to not hold it, allowing the eye to follow the hierarchy naturally.


Sports Illustrated –Color

Main Color Pallets

The main colors used in Sport Illustrated are white and blue. The color white is used as the main background color, where as blue is often used as the color for secondary elements such as section labels and rules.

But after more thorough observation, I find that for certain pages such as the content page, the color scheme is reversed, with blue being the background color and white as the color of the font.

I think the purpose of the editor to do so is to create variety and differentiate the content page from the other section fronts.

The color blue is also used for most headlines, subheads, captions, cutlines and even pull quotes. It stands out from the other elements in every issue and attracts the readers’  attention. 

In addition to white and blue, orange is also a reoccurring color in every issue of the sports illustrated. It doesn’t appear as often as the main colors, but still plays a dominant role. We can see orange in images, cutlines, subheads, names of people who said the pull quotes, and in ads. 

In some cases, orange is used as the theme color of a feature story, which turns blue and white into secondary colors.

I think it is a good and comfortable color choice. Orange and blue are complimentary colors that support each other to draw things to the readers’ attention. They are also good colors for background, as they fit the colors of most sport uniforms. And most importantly, they are light colors that convey energy, strength and movement. A wise choice for a sports magazine.


The New Yorker & Color

While I couldn’t find a complete color palette for the New Yorker online, I looked through multiple issues of the publication and looked for similarities with my own eyes, and found a few. The New Yorker is mainly black and white and text heavy, with the exception of the illustration on the cover and some portrait photographs inside.

However, they use the same bright red and light blue to indicate different headlines, names, sections, etc. throughout the publication.

For example, in the table of contents, the department headings are in bright red and stand out from the rest of the contents listings, drawing the reader’s eye to them, and reoccur in every issue.


The New Yorker uses the same red to indicate names on the contributor’s page to make the writers’ names stand out, as well as for subheadings within the comment and reviews section at the beginning of each issue (see below).

They even use the same red in their advertisements to market their subscription programs and archive database.

The publication also uses a light blue to indicate subheadings when previewing events around the city.

In addition, the same red and blue are used throughout the publication in the form of illustrations. Each illustration that is not the standard black and white uses the same light blue and vibrant red. It makes the illustrations stand out against the monochrome text and cartoons/sketches, and brings a cohesive look to a publication that rarely uses colorful photographs and images.


Red and blue are an interesting choice, and one I think works well because the New Yorker was created to be the pinnacle of high brow journalism, displaying a lifestyle that Americans aspired to achieve. Red and blue are the staple colors of America, and because this magazine exemplifies every aspect of what it means to be living in this age in America – complete with literary and arts reviews, poetry, and political and pop culture commentary – red and blue are the most fitting colors to be used throughout the publication.


Esquire | Color | Field Notes

Esquire magazine uses many different colors throughout its issues. The colors depend on what the overlying theme and color for the entire issue is. The basic color palette id black, white, blue, red and yellow. These five colors are always seen throughout the magazine. The black and white, of course, are used for typography and helps to create some sense of contrast. The colors red and blue are used for accents or for the other details through the magazine, like jump elements, dingbats, and other furniture aspects. The red is used to point out something specific in the story. The blue is also used for subheads, this helps to break up the black and white text. Finally, the color yellow is used often to help the reader make the distinction that a portion of text is a caption rather than a part of the regular text. They alternate certain elements and colors in order to make the reader engage throughout the magazine. This works, because it’s a part of the magazine’s overall infrastructure.


In terms of headlines and cutlines, the typography color can bounce between black, red and blue. These colors tend to be the main colors that the magazine uses to distinguish its typography.


The photos in the magazine tends to vary in color. The photos tend to be in color, especially for features and editorial shoots.


The nameplate is a piece of important and critical matter that the magazine tends to have more fun with. Depending on the issue, the nameplate’s color changes. This works, because the audience never truly knows what to expect. This works because overall, it’s fun and adds an element of surprise.



This color palette works because it helps to solidify the identity of the magazine. These colors are strong and domineering which are both qualities of the Esquire man. The reader can get that the magazine is about having fun but still wants to be respected as a sophisticated and intellectual entity. The base palette of the magazine allows for the creators to have more fun and invite more colors to the palette on a temporary basis. Thus, allowing them to be distinguishable without having to make a fuss or a big change to its already recognized aesthetic.


Field Notes : Color: bon appétit

A Condé Nast publication, bon appétit, uses color in a very intriguing manner creating a symbolic narrative in alignment with the literary narrative. The color schemes are usually a derivative of the images and illustrations that are used in the stories. As mentioned earlier in the Images, most of their photography is curated and staged. In this manner, they have control over the color scheme trying multiple permutations and combinations.

In bon appétit, the colors are usually useful in reflecting the tone of that issue. Since it is a food, drinks and lifestyle magazine the colors play a significant role in translating the topical issue be it a health issue or a holiday issue. Most of their graphic elements and images are full bleed which makes them a prominent visual component.

While playing with a series of solid hues and colors, this is contrasted with leaving the other side of the page white which I guess works well where the color and the white space get balanced in the visual composition of the spread.

This magazine also showcases a lot of advertisements, designating a whole page to one advertisement. Thus, I am guessing that they are selective in choosing their advertisement and the way they placed in the magazine in alignment with the images of their food recipes. Therefore, color is also used to make that distinction in the content that is presented.

This magazine has a lot of choreographed photography, which gives them the ability to control the colors that participate in an image. Now it’s obvious they can not control the colors in the food or the drink, but they control the color of the surroundings, things in the background and foreground of the images and the accessories. What I mean is the whole scene in which that food or drink is photographed in.

The magazine such as bon appétit does not use loud color schemes since they want to depict the content of the food/drink showcased, with utmost clarity without any distractions. They use a lot of light and pastel shades which contributes to the minimal aesthetics followed throughout the magazine.

Additionally, I think the colors contribute to maintaining the freshness and the tempt that is created from the images of the food, drinks and lifestyle tips. This is achieved by using one single shade of color and less or rather no mix match of colors, not even in terms of different hues of the same shade. This preservation of the genuinity of the colors is what makes every issue so persuasive and immersive.

Use of contrasting imagery styles and color schemes.

The colors used for bodycopy, neckline, and even headlines are usually black unless the cover story of the issue where everything is designed differently than the usual sections in the magazine. The cutlines are usually placed on the images with certain kinds of arrow or rule directing the readers to them and that text is usually color in contrast to the full bleed image or sometimes in contrast to the background color o that image/visual element.

Concluding, I think color plays a vital role in the experience of reading a magazine. With the digital versions available, as designers, I think we must be more careful about the use of color and not overdo it or go for a cliché color scheme. The magazine does a very interesting job with the selection and placement of colors.




Field Notes – Color

While browsing through both of my issues of New York Magazine, I found that the main three colors used in typography and graphic elements were black, red, and blue. Red is known as a fiery color representing passion, strength, and danger. Perhaps the use of this color is so prominent because New York Magazine really wants to catch the reader’s attention. The publication covers a variety of material; however, it is not a simple lifestyle magazine like that of Cosmopolitan or Vanity Fair. This publication focuses on more serious topics, including politics and art, so it seems as though this simple, yet bold, color palette keeps the reader informed on its intent of delivering important information. Towards the back of the book, New York Magazine introduces a playful, sky blue color. It feels like it is purposely meant to counteract the serious red shade that implies urgency. The blue is primarily used within the first word of each item in the publication’s “To Do” section. This section of the publication is newsworthy, yet not as critical for the reader to digest – it is not necessary in order for the reader to gain an in-depth understanding of current events. 

Color is rarely used in headlines – it is seen more in pull quotes, captions, decks, and bylines. Their deliberate use of minimal color with typography almost mimics the feel of a newspaper. It feels as though they are trying to exude a level of seriousness and importance by using less color. Body copy is always written in black. Similarly, headlines are also displayed in all black. Display text and bylines shift between black and red; however, they are primarily black.

The photographs do not appear to follow any specific color palette. Perhaps the simple use of color in typography is a deliberate way of offsetting the wide use of color in the photographs. I have found that when I am flipping through the magazine, my eye immediately goes towards the photographs on the page. 



Wired expertly uses color as a way to establish hierarchy on each page, and to distinguish features from one another.

On the cover of Wired, the use of color varies. On the December 2019 issue, there is a bright yellow used to contrast the the teal blue background. This contrast serves to highlight the title of the cover story. The nameplate is in its own color that seems to be pulled from the person featured on the cover. This is a unique combination of colors that is very different from the January 2020 cover. On the more recent issue, the photo is in black and white. There is a similar yellow used here to highlight the nameplate and emphasize the name of the subject of the cover story. While the December issue uses a lot of color and the January issue uses little, both use color in the same way to accent the most important information on the cover: the nameplate and the featured story or person.

Wired’s strategic use of color can be seen in their table of contents. The table of contents uses different shapes to hold the text on the contents page. True to the principles of Gestalt, the use of colors allow the reader to group each section by color, easily, rather than by similar shapes. This makes color an essential part of their contents page. Different colors are used in different issues, but they are always necessary for the functionality of the contents page.

In the first two departments (Electric Word + Mind Grenades) of the magazine, color serves to break up content on the page. Small blurbs of text are housed in colored boxes that allow the reader to easily separate them from the rest of the page. The colors are always consistent throughout Electric Word, unifying the different pages into one identifiable section. In Mind Grenades, the colors are used to differentiate alternate story columns. For example, “Angry Nerd” is orange, while “Chartgeist” is blue. Because the layouts look so similar, the color allows the reader to see that the contents are not the same for each column. The colors used vary from issue to issue, but they are always different among the alternate story forms.

The Gadget Lab department uses vibrant colors to serve as the backdrop for the tech being displayed. It serves an important function here to contrast the typically dark or monochromatic technology. Without the color used here, the Gadget Lab section wouldn’t be as visually interesting.

Color also serves an interesting function as a way to differentiate the features in each issue. While some features are black text on white backgrounds, some features use color to create a visual aesthetic that connects each spread in the feature. For example, the cover story from the January 2020 issue uses a light blue background rather than solid white. There are also many shades of blue and some greens used as part of the page design. The rules and captions are in one shade of blue, interacting well with one another, while a dark blue is used in drop caps and pull quotes, connecting those two components. The frequent use of color in this feature makes sense, as they interact well with the photos, and connect with the lighthearted and quirky nature of the specific feature. In the following feature, which is a much more serious and dark story, the use of colors would feel inappropriate. These different colors help to emphasize the tone of each feature and break up each feature from one another in the only section of the magazine not interrupted by ads.

Overall, the use of colors is necessary to the organization and layout of Wired. However, they are also key to the identity of the magazine. Wired is a bold, and oftentimes fun, magazine. The bright colors connect the reader with this aspect of Wired. 




For the Color field note assignment I will be analyzing the November 2019 issue of Fast Company. The first thing that became apparent to me after flipping through the magazine looking at their color choices, was that Fast Co. doesn’t shy away from color. Instead it plays a strong, behind-the-scenes type of role within the magazine. Fast Co. as a business magazine doesn’t play with color as much as a fashion magazine or more heavily designed magazine might.

Instead they rely on bright pops of colors throughout their book to give the content a modern, and fun aesthetic. They utilize a lot of different colors in their section markers, dingbats, pull quotes and other smaller elements on the pages, while keeping a majority of the actual pages white, gray or the reverse with black background and white text. I think this use of color with smaller elements makes them pop, and adds to the visual hierarchy, which usually emphasizes the importance of the story, photo, or illustration before anything else.

Something else that I found notable is that each story or spread get it’s own little color palette, usually just a color or two that is present in the above mentioned elements and is pulled either from the main illustration (which there are a good amount of in Fast Co.) or the main photo, of the story. Even within the same section the section head and colors on the pages can be vastly different. I think this helps the magazine maintain a fresh feel.

Usually they don’t play around too much with the heds, deks, cutlines, and display copy. It’s either black, gray. I think this reflects their emphasis on scorched earth reporting and their audience that, at least for the print edition is older, affluent and highly-educated and perhaps isn’t the type of crowd that would enjoy wacky colors while reading a story on capitalism. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find their color palette/guidelines online. But after looking at several issues of Fast Company I definitely see some staples like the yellow they often use in their nameplate or the blue (shown in pictures below) that often accompany one of their feature stories. But in the grand scheme of things I believe that they often switch up their color palette, issue to issue, based on what visual components they have to work with and based on the time the magazine will come out (because they’re a bi-monthly magazine).






Field notes: Images: bon appétit

Style & Content

Cover Images:

The cover images are always about the cover story being showcased in that issue. Being a food & drinks magazine, the cover image is most of the times, an insanely yummy looking dish or drink, very rarely the cover images are a famous chef or a human being as the person being clicked for the cover image. The images look very fresh and would persuade you to pick up the magazine and read it. The image also sets the theme of the issue which is usually when they are covering trends in food and drinks or when their issue topic is about the season of the year or any other special issue. They very rarely have multiple images on the cover page. Most of the time, the focus is given towards just that one image which is again repeated inside the magazine in the cover story section. In terms of the content of the photo, bon appétit is very diverse and can focus on a variety of meals right from wholesome meals to snacky dishes to desserts and alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages. The cover image is always complemented with a witty tagline that is placed close to the image or close to the nameplate of the magazine that completes the message the cover image is trying to portray to the readers. Having said all this and the variety showcased all the cover images of bon appétit evoke a sense of temptation and give rise to cravings and hunger for sure!

The variety of themes showcased in the cover images of multiple issues.

Images inside the magazine:

On the inside of the magazine, as well all the images on food and drinks are always given primary importance to on the spread. They are showcased on almost every page next to their respective recipe covered. The magazine’s minimal aesthetics idea is continued in the images as well, where the image does not look too busy the subjects are always still since they are either food or drinks. They are mostly close-up shots taken from a top-view angle. The imagery is staged as in the food dish or drinks are styled in a setting and then the photo is taken in a setting as demanded by the art director. In this way, one can agree that photography is nearly choreographed with most of them having a light/pastel background which works well in contrast to the colorful vegetables and meat pieces.

The cover story featuring a full spread. Kindly notice the contrast between the image and the typeface of the textual element and the placement of the text with the image

Relation of the textual element with the image

Use of Images on the page:

Since photography is staged for many stories covered in the issue, the designers even predict the size and placement of the image on the page and click the image accordingly. Most of the images are rectangular. Whenever there is a repetitive element in the image, the image is usually cut from there. The images are mostly spread across the entire side of the page and sometimes if a recipe is being showcased the designers use 1 full spread showing images of the different stages of the recipe right from its raw stage to the complete look of the dish along with the garnish and presentation of the dish.

Text is minimum. The headlines and witty taglines are what get noticed since the steps of the preparation are written as body copy. The text is placed in a way that interacts with the image and the typeface of the taglines is a derivation of the image.

Types of Imagery & Frequency of Use:

Photos: Photos are used often especially when it comes to cover images. The images as staged and when I look at them the concept of still life is what comes to my mind. It’s like the images are captured in that moment of stillness that makes your mouth water and triggers the temptation. All the photos are strictly color and this works for a magazine like bon appétit which is about food, drinks, food trends, lifestyle and entertainment showcasing the glamour and freshness through the dishes showcased.

Illustrations: Illustrations are used less in frequency as compared to images, but they are always used to complement a textual element or the image. They are also used to summarize certain aspects of the recipe. The illustrations are mostly single-line drawings which are in singular line weight and are overlapped with the image.

Graphics: A very minimum use of graphics is done as the magazine covers food recipes thus it is not that heavy on data information and representation. But sometimes when there is an issue focusing on a particular them such as an issue on food & drinks to have in the summer season, they showcase a full spread infographic concerning the food eaten in the summers.

On the overall, I think the combination of photos and illustrations is what works well for me when I read the magazine since they attempt to create a visual memory of an issue in the heads of the readers and sometimes people even remember recipes by the images and illustrations they see rather than the step-wise written recipe. Thus Images and illustrations are crucial to a magazine such as bon appétit.