21 Stimulating Color Palette Tools For Designers

color paletteI’m always excited about the possibilities of a new design. At the very beginning, I never really know where it will end up, and I love that feeling. The whole process of choosing colors and creating a color palette for a site is usually one of my first (and favorite) steps. Even if I have the chosen colors from the client, I still use a series of color scheme tools to put together the final palette. It’s one of my design inspiration triggers.

So, here are 21 inspiration-stimulating online color palette tools that I could play around with for hours:

1. kuler
This may be one of the most used tools, and it is also one of my favorites. The site, by Adobe, is smooth and easy to use and allows you to create color themes and then download them to use in Adobe CS products. There is even a really cool desktop Adobe AIR application that lets you grab swatches, drag them all over your screen, resize and then copy the values of the colors to use in other applications.

2. ColorBlender
This one is by far one of the quickest ways to get a set of complementary colors based on one. All you do is select your initial color and “blends” are displayed automatically. You can download your palette for importing into Photoshop or Illustrator, or have a direct URL to the colors emailed to you.

3. Color Scheme Designer
Another nicely done tool, this one lets you drag a scale around a color wheel to select your hues, adjust the scheme and then export the hex codes into HTML, XML or text. You can also download Photoshop or GIMP palettes. The site also gives you a preview of the colors in a mock website. Plus, it’s informative with tips and color information, and even has an option to display colors as seen by people with varying levels of color vision deficiency.

4. COLOURlovers
COLOURlovers is a great color trend resource, offering a collection of palettes created by other users, as well as the opportunity to create your own. One of the coolest features of the site is a trends section showing popular colors on sites and in magazines.

color palette generator5. Color Jack
There are so many tools on this site, I don’t even know where to start. It has a color block, showing potential palettes for each color you mouseover; a Color Galaxy showing the colors recognized by different browsers, operating systems, etc.; and a Color Sphere that has so many options and possibilities, you have to try it for yourself. Oh, and there’s also a Color Studio with a whole slew of mix-and-match, then export options.

color palette generator6. DeGraeve Color Palette Generator
If you are interested in determining all of the colors in a photo, this is the tool you want to use. Just enter in the URL of the photo and it will spit out all of the colors represented.

7. Color Hunter
Similar to DeGraeve’s generator, this one let you enter in a URL of a photo to generate a palette. You can also upload an image, and enter in a hex code to get other images and palettes that contain it.

8. colr.org

While it seems simple at first, this tool has some depth. Some of the things you can do include: load random images from flickr and pull the colors, enter a website and grab the color scheme, and explore schemes created by other users.
color scheme generator
9. ColorSchemer

This tool includes a library of user-developed color palettes that may jog your color creativity. They also have a desktop application to purchase to create your own palettes.

10. VisiBone Color Lab

A little rough around the edges, but great for the designer who wants to get in, grab some web-safe colors and get out.

color palette generator11. ColorCombos
This tool let’s you search a Combo Library or create your own using the Color Tester. The Tester has some very unique features, such as an option to show text over your colors, create a template of hex codes, and download an image of the palette. You can even plug in a URL and get a list of all of the colors used on a website.

12. Unsafe Color Match Tool
This is one of the most coder-friendly color tools. It lets you modify colors, links, text and background and visually displays your selections on a template. And it has an area that displays the codes so you can duplicate the scheme in your design.

Not enough? Here’s some more…

13. Daily Color Scheme

14. Colorspire

15. Jeff Minard’s Color Palette Generator

16. GenoPal

17. Palette Man

18. EasyRGB

19. Color Wizard

20. ColorMix

21. ColourMod

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • http://www.cerntech.hu/multimedia.html controlFreak

    Great article, good job.

    This site inspires me when the lights are low, there is heavy rain outside, and the coffee box is empty:-)

    http://www.sherwin.com/visualizer/

  • http://armchaircritic.declarationend.co.uk armchaircritic

    I’ve tended to use the Kuler AIR app a lot, coupled with the web app, and sometimes going to colourlovers to get a bit of inspiration.

    Some of those tools are counter intuitive, and really that’s the last thing you want.

  • mikemike

    ummm…

    What about Toucan, which is far superior to anything you’ve listed above.

  • shamelessplug

    Another interesting take on color palette creation…

    http://www.colormunki.com/munsell

  • leylo
  • http://www.historycommons.org/ Black Max

    This is a useful resource, though not nearly as sophisticated or interactive as some of the above:

    http://www.december.com/html/spec/color.html
    http://www.december.com/html/spec/swatchcontrol.html
    http://www.december.com/html/spec/ (sitemap covering all site contents, including many pages on aspects of color)

  • Silver Firefly

    I use ColorSchemer and ColourLovers. I tried Kuler but I didn’t think much of it.

  • lazyjai

    Nice read & lots of information keep up the good =)

  • markthedoc

    I didn’t know about ColorBlender.
    That’s a great tool, I’ll be using that a LOT!

    Thanks