Idea Blog

5 More Tips for Incorporating Color into Your Whiteboard Video

Claude Harrington 03.09.2016

As we discussed yesterday in 5 Tips for Incorporating Color Into Your Whiteboard Video, more and more whiteboard videos are injecting some degree of color. It’s usually not a ton of color that’s included, but given the influx it inevitably spurs questions like these: Should my video include color? If so, how much color should there be? And where, exactly, should that color be added?

The short answer to questions like those is that every whiteboard video is a balancing act; each video a unique attempt to properly tilt the scales. But the longer answer is that there are tips, tricks and trends that can help guide a project towards a successful solution. And so, like yesterday, that’s exactly what we’ll be focusing on today.

So without further ado, here are 5 more tips for incorporating color into your whiteboard video.

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1. Action! One of the uniquely compelling things about whiteboard videos is that with limited animation of the artwork itself, the technique–because the hand is often moving and the lines are coming together in real-time–can conjure a constant sense of forward-moving action. For the sake of capturing (and maintaining) viewer attention, that’s valuable in itself. But from a narrative perspective, if executive effectively, it can be priceless.

One way to help enhance that execution is by using color to help create action. Think of this almost like a “Before and After” comparison. A black and white illustration (before) is endowed with color (after), depicting a transformation that can convey story and action.

To help explain exactly what this means, let’s take a closer look at this whiteboard video we made to serve as the opening sequence for the eight season of Showtime’s Weeds:

One of this sequence’s primary objectives is to quickly and accessibly convey key story details from the show’s first seven seasons. As a result, finding efficient ways to pack in dense narrative and highlight major events was critical, and one trick that helped accomplish this was using color to convey high-stakes action.

Such as a house fire…

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Or a poolside death…

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2. Richness and Texture: As we’ve talked about in several of our PICK OF THE WEEK selections (like the Rock, Paper, Scissors video featured last week), most successful animated videos excel at creating a sense of richness with regards to environment. They make you feel like beyond just the characters within a story, that story’s universe has depth and dimension.

This is especially true of animated explainer videos, where that sort of richness feels more credible and professional. Which is something that a touch of color can help accomplish in a whiteboard video. Implementation can be very subtle.

It can be as simple as something like this, where color is used to make seemingly generic documents feel just a little bit more real and relatable:

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Or sometimes can be used more widely and more abstractly, to try and create a feeling to accompany a landscape or perspective:

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3. Color Can Be a Great Way Un-Cog the Machine: A lot of explainer videos focus on process. To those generally unfamiliar with that process (which often makes up a large part of the target audience), a lot of the elements tend to blur together. Especially the people, because the layperson is more focus on the how and the why than on the who.

But the truth is that those who‘s matter; not just because they deserve the credit they are due, but because understanding individual responsibilities will help the viewer better understand the overall process. And in cases where the viewer will become a participant in the process, it’s even more pivotal to avoid the blurring of individuals. Which is why color can really be an asset to help accentuate and differentiate the characters in a whiteboard video.

One of my favorite examples is a video we did for Prologis, where color was used to brighten and highlight the different members of a company process:

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4. And Also a Great Way to Help Anthropomorphize Character: In the point above, we talked about the value of differentiating an ensemble, but color can also be a great way to dress up and distinguish and unexpected protagonist. And since many explainer videos are built around unlikely heroes, this approach can be particularly handy.

I mean, who would have thought that “Data” would make for such a stellar leading man?

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5. Pinpointing the Point (Especially When Multiple Options Exist): Our last tip for incorporating color into your whiteboard video refers to those situations where the animation presents a handful of focal points. A situation, say, like this one below:

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There are a total of five characters in this frame (one central character, four tertiary ones) but despite the abundance of individuals, this moment is really about the decision process. To pinpoint that aspect (especially when characters are inherently more engaging than a question mark), the thought bubble-like question mark is what’s colored in. This draws the viewer to that focal point and, amidst other options competing for attention, hammers home that point.

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