Let’s be honest, when you open up the color picker on your favorite piece of software, you are hit with what seems like an unlimited number of options. To be exact, there are 16,777,216 hex code color options to choose from. You might think to yourself “This is going to take a while.”
Luckily, there are lots of people who love creating great color combinations and there are lots of great online resources for finding and creating your own color palettes. No more closing your eyes and clicking on the color picker, hoping for the best.
When it comes time for your next color palette, check out these sites first.
A great place to start is with Adobe’s color tool. Some of you may have used it when it was called Kuler. Adobe has since updated the name to match the rest of the CC branding.
The Adobe Color CC “Create” tool uses fundamental color theory principles to help you build palettes with up to 5 colors. You simply pick a base color from the color wheel, and you’ll be given a harmonious “analogous” palette. Tweaking any of the sliders on the base color will update all of the other colors as well. If you aren’t looking for analogous palettes, you can choose from several other options including complementary and monochromatic.
When you create a palette that you love, you can save it by signing in to your Adobe account. Your palettes will show up in the “My Themes” tab. They can’t be exported as files, but you can hover over colors to see their hex code or take a screenshot.
If building your own palette isn’t working out, try clicking the “Explore” tab to see the huge collection of palettes created by other users. There are sorting options like “Most Popular” or you can search by a specific hex code or by a color like orange.
Coolors is another palette generator similar to Adobe Color but with a different look and feel. When you visit the site, you simply hit “Start The Generator” to load a random color palette. Palette colors are presented in large strips across the screen that can be dragged into different orders, and each has its own set of controls for shifting the individual color. You can even see the values for HSB, RGB, CMYK, PMS, and COPIC.
If you like a color, click the lock icon to lock it in. Then hit the spacebar to load new colors in the unlocked spaces. You can even undo the last colors generated if you like the previous ones better.
When you have a full set of colors you like, Coolors offers a nice “Refine” feature that allows you to change settings for hue, saturation, brightness, and temperature across all 5 of your chosen colors.
When you have the perfect palette, you can save it if you are signed into your account. Or you can export it in a number of ways, including PNG, PDF, and SVG. You can also export a URL for later reference.
Just like Adobe Color CC, Coolors has a “Browser” function for palettes created by other users. It does allow for sorting things like the latest and best, but there is no search functionality built in.
One more generator to take a look at is Paletton. Their layout is a little more similar to Adobe Color CC than Coolor’s, but they also have a unique set of features worth exploring.
The Paletton color wheel gives you the choice of working with 1, 2, 3, or 4 colors evenly spaced on the color wheel. You can then rotate around the wheel adjusting all of the colors at once. You can adjust the angle between the color choices within the wheel, or adjust the hue variances along the wheel axis.
What Paletton outputs is not just the main colors you chose, but 4 varying shades within each color, giving you a very wide palette of options.
One of the unique features of Paletton is the “Examples” tab where you can look at your chosen palette in a number of different ways, including sample web page layouts, various artboards, and even as animated bubbles.
Paletton also offers perhaps the greatest flexibility in palette export. You can choose to export in HTML, CSS, or XML if you’d prefer code. You can also choose to export swatches in Photoshop and Gimp compatible formats, or simply export a PNG.
Colourlovers is an entire community built around appreciating colors and recognizing trends in color usage.
Colourlovers has an entire set of channels to choose from based on your needs. For instance, the “Web” channel explores color palettes for web design, while the “Fashion” channel looks at colors for fabrics and fashion accessories.
There are loads and loads of pre-made palettes to choose from, created by Colourlovers users. And palettes can be browsed in a number of ways including shapes, patterns, and individual color swatches. They also have a range of palette generating tools, including PHOTOCOPA which will generate a palette from a photo that you upload.
One of the greatest features of Colourlovers is their “Trends” feature which will let you see what other people are using for web sites, interior design, and more. This is a great way, not just to find the perfect palette, but to also recognize if you are working with colors that are popular now and to be inspired by what’s fresh.
Color Hunt is the simplest of the resources on the list, but a great way to get inspired or just stumble across the perfect palette for your next project.
Each day, the team at Color Hunt uploads a set of 4 new color palettes for the community to enjoy and rate. If you like a palette, simply click the heart to vote for it. Palettes you heart are saved in the “Likes” tab. But be aware, this is just saved in your browser’s cache. So loading the site in another browser will not show you your favorites. Also, emptying your browser’s cache may cause your likes to go away.
You can browse through the newest selected palettes or sort by the most popular, and upon clicking a palette, you’ll see it used in a variety of ways like in a ring and on a map. There is no export function, so you’ll just want to copy the hex codes for a palette you like or take a screenshot.
If you already have a palette that you want to share or you just want to play with the color picker, you can go to the “Create” section and build your own palette to submit for review. You may just find your own palette shared for the community to enjoy and use in their projects.
Choosing colors for your project, no matter what type of project it is doesn’t have to be that hard. It can actually be fun with a little help from the above resources. Let us know how you pick your colors in the comments below.