How to Create a Color Palette

For those days when you're stumped on how to come up with a selection of colors that work well together there are a couple of new online resources that can be helpful (or at least provide a pleasant distraction and make you feel like you're still working....)

TIP 1: TRY COLORAPI is a website that shows Flickr images, based on a keyword you put in, with a palette of 6 - 12 colors (including the html code for the color) pulled from the photo. It provides almost endless entertainment, and a few good laughs. For instance, this photo appeared after searching for "cheese" (I was hoping for some warm cheddar-y yellows and oranges.)  But I did get an interesting palette, which can then be downloaded in .ase format and opened in any Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign project.

The designer, Bermi Ferrer, describes it like this: Colorapi allows you to discover color palettes from photos on Flickr. You can sort photos and decide how many colors you want to extract from each photo. You can view colors in full screen mode, navigate with your keyboard and download the swatches in .ase (Adobe Swatch Exchange) format.

This process led me to wondering about how to use the .ase files and share palettes between Photoshop, Illustrator and In Design. There's a great tutorial here. Even with my limited Photoshop skills I was able to use the file to create this palette from the /ase file that was generated.


If you have the url of an image you like you can use on online color palette generator like degraeve or colorhunter. Both are very easy to use, but don't give you the option of downloading the .ase file.

A number of sites allow you to share palettes you've come up with, and look at palettes others have created.
Colourlovers has lots of ways to come up with both palettes and patterns in addition to showing different options that others have come up with.
Colorcombos has a website color grabbing tool that's useful, as well as lists of color combos to choose from
Colorhunter lets you enter a particular color number and then shows different palettes built around that number.
Colorschemedesigner lets you pick a color on a color wheel, then has you choose to develop a palette based on monocromatic, complementary, triad, analogic or accented analogic colors.
Letschipit is  a website by Sherwin-Williams paint company that lets you enter a url for an online picture and gives you a palette of Sherwin-Williams colors. They also offer a bookmarklet that once installed allows you to "identify up to ten Sherwin-Williams paint colors represented in online photos simply by scrolling over the image. From there, add the photo and corresponding color palette to your Chip It! profile, share the creation socially or print it out."


Carina Envoldsen-Harris has written a great tutorial on the Craftzine site that is essentially a DIY version of the Colorapi program. It's definitely a lot more work, but is a good option if you want more control of what comes up.


Look for inspiration to a website such as design-seeds where the blogger features photos and palettes pulled from the photo.