Cabezon Creek WSA, NM
BLM>Recreation>National Recreation Programs>Visual Resource Management >Outreach & Partnerships>Outreach & Partnerships
Print Page

Color Selection

Most of the time, color selection will have the greatest impact on the visual success or failure of your projects. Strong contrasts in color create easily recognizable visual conflicts in the landscape.

The following considerations can be helpful in making color selections:

  • Natural surfaces are usually well-textured and have shade and shadow effects that darken them; surfaces of structures are usually smooth and reflect light even if dull-finish paint is used. So, as a general rule of thumb, colors on smooth manmade structures need to be two or three shades darker than the background colors to compensate for the shadow patterns created by naturally textured surfaces that make colors appear darker.
  • The color selection for all structures should be made to achieve the best blending with the surrounding landscape in both summer and winter.
  • Galvanized steel on utility structures should be darkened to prevent glare. Low luster paints should be used wherever possible to help reduce glare. It is almost impossible to remove all sun glare.
  • Color (hue) is most effective within 1,000 feet. Beyond that point, color becomes more difficult to distinguish and tone or value determines visibility and resulting visual contrast.
  • Surface disturbance of western mineralized soils can result in strong color contrasts. In many situations, this suggests that the area should be avoided as a location for the proposed development, or that color selections for the manmade facilities or disturbance might need to reflect the lighter colored soil revealed by the disturbance.
  • Colors should be selected from a distance that permits viewing of the entire landscape surrounding the proposed development.
  • Colors that blend with or are in harmony with the existing colors of the earth, rocks, and vegetation are usually more visually pleasing and attract less attention than colors that are chosen to match the color of the sky.

Click on the following images to see a larger image


The color selected for these gas well facilities blends well with the colors in this landscape.
The color of these guard rails is appropriate because it creates very little visual contrast.
The color selected for this electrical tower blends well with the rock formations surrounding it.

The color selected for the back of this highway sign blends well with the colors in this landscape
It is important to select colors that are in harmony with the natural colors in the landscape, thereby avoiding strong contrasts.
The color selected for this microwave repeater strongly contrasts with the colors of this landscape.