Get Colorful with Your QR Codes

by Timothy Heyer

You’ve probably noticed them popping up everywhere recently: the seemingly cryptic black-on-white square made up of lines and boxes known as QR Codes. When scanned with a smartphone, these codes can provide users with a host of goodies: most often web pages, but also videos, search engine results, text messages, tweets, geo-specific maps and more.

But your QR Codes don’t need to live in a boring, monochromatic world! At the recent Graph Expo show in Chicago, we used QR codes in color (PANTONE 144 PC, to be exact) around our booth and in collateral to offer attendees more information and the chance to win an iPad 2. The codes are flexible enough to even allow designs within the code itself, providing new opportunities for presenting branding and engaging the audience.

Banner image: Left – Pantone; Right – Louis Vuitton via Mashable

Mashable shows you how to Create Your Own QR Codes.

Gallery left to right, top to bottom:
Erica Vojnich, Marijana RajčićVincent ScheibJoel GlovierPatrick DonnellyShiela Ribeiro

Erica VojnichMarijana RajčićVincent ScheibJoel GlovierPatrick DonnellyShiela Ribeiro

  • Charles Jamerlan

    Hey Tim, the blog looks AWESOME! And who doesn’t love QR codes, much more ones that are peppered with color.

    • Tim Heyer

      Thanks, CJ!

  • tinsigga-wv

    Very cool! We have clients at our newspaper that like to put their QR codes in their ads, but there are concerns that the more elaborate color codes may not be readable on a quick and dirty print process like uncoated web on newsprint. Especially if they’re too small. Any thoughts on this?

    • Tim Heyer

      Hi there. I don’t have any experience placing QR codes in newsprint, but I would imagine that for that sort of process, the bigger the better. The beauty of QR codes is that they don’t seem to need an extreme level of detail, but at a certainly point, that would certainly break down. If you gain any experience with this, please share – I’m sure the readers would be glad to learn from your experiences!

  • http://danielbevisportfolio.limewebs.com/ Daniel Bevis

    Sweet idea!

    Just how do you edit QR Codes like this though [as every attempt to Live Trace them in Illustrator so far results in subtly distorting it's structure]?

    • http://twitter.com/OptiscanApp Optiscan

      You need to setup Illustrator correctly in order for the Live Trace to work. Set a pixel grid, ‘Align New Objects to Pixel Grid’ selected in the Transform menu, get the QR Code roughly lined up to the grid, then run a Live Trace: B&W, everything set to zero, fills on, strokes off and ‘Ignore White’ selected. Then ‘Expand’. Done!

      • http://danielbevisportfolio.limewebs.com/ Daniel Bevis

        Worked like a charm mate – cheers!

        • http://twitter.com/OptiscanApp Optiscan

          You’re welcome :)

  • Brian Visel

    Ugh. Some of these are a pain to read. Not that an extra 30 seconds trying to get the reader to recognize them matters that much, but some qr codes aren’t worth the time to read. The background portions should all evaluate to the same grey level for the code to be easily readable. The bottom center one is both attractive and reads in a snap, though.

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