Colour is a powerful emotional trigger. The right colour palette can make your content stand out, evoke emotion, and move your audience. If you don’t already have brand guidelines that dictate your colour choice, then the onus is on you to find a colour palette for your project that is harmonious, appealing and impactful. That can be a daunting and time-consuming task. Luckily, there are several free tools that can help you create the perfect colour palette. In this post, we’ll introduce six of them.
Our first stop is Pinterest. Ok, you probably don’t need me to introduce you to Pinterest. But did you know how useful it can be to discover beautiful colour palettes? Don’t take my word for it. Give it a whirl by searching Pinterest for “color palettes”. (Yes, the American spelling of ‘colour’ is likely to yield more results.) Looking for something specific? Just add your adjective of choice. For example, you could search for bold, elegant, light, dark, elegant, or spring colour palettes. You get the idea.
There are a few limitations of the Pinterest approach. The key limitation is that when you find a colour palette you love, you’ll need to bring it into your graphics program as a photo, and extract the value of each colour manually to form your palette. By contrast, you’re about to find out how the next tools we’ll cover simplify the task.
Launched in 2009 by accomplished designer Jessica Colaluca, Design Seeds has evolved from a colour blog to an international community of artists who “share a passion for nature’s beauty, wanderlust, & discovering inspiration in unexpected captures”.
Design Seeds’ stunning palettes are inspired by photos submitted via Instagram using the #SeedsColor hashtag. Use the site to explore palettes either by colour or by collection. Once you’ve chosen your colour palette, you can easily copy the hex codes of each colour, right off the site.
If you’ve ever fallen in love with a colour that is used by a prominent company, you’ll want to know about Brand Colors. Curated by Galen Gidman and his friends, Brand Colors is a large collection of official brand colours.
Brand Colours makes it easy to browse through brands or search for one in particular to reveal its colour palette. Then, you can copy the hex code of any colour in a single click. Or, if you prefer, download one or several entire palates in ASE format, so that you can easily open them in Photoshop or Illustrator.
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As the name suggests, Colour Lovers is an international online community where people can share the colour palettes they create and browse the palettes created by other users. The Colour Lovers search functionality is quite powerful. On of my favourite features is the ability to find palettes that include a particular colour, but you can also search millions of palettes by new or most loved, among other fields.
This clever utility is a truly international creation, conceived by Erica Schoonmaker (from Berlin) and executed by Javier Bórquez from (Guadalajara). The concept of Cohesive Colors is simple: start with random colours you like and turn them into a cohesive colour scheme, by overlaying the same colour on each of them. Up to you to select the overlay colour and intensity. When you’ve arrived at your perfect colour palette, you can copy all the hex values at the click of a button.
Alternatively, you can also create a colour palette from a photo you love, choosing a colour “mood”, such as Colorfoul, Bright, Muted, Deep, Dark or Custom.
Finally, you can also browse through colour palettes that other users have created.
If you’re signed in with your Adobe ID, you can save any theme you find or create. And if you subscribe to an Adobe CC application – such as Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects or InDesign – you can use the Color Theme panel right inside your app to explore popular public colour themes, edit them, and save them as swatches.
Over to You
I hope you’ll find these tools helpful for creating your next amazing colour palette. Do you have any other go-to tools that you rely on? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Carole Alalouf is the President and founder of Exaltus, and primary contributor to the Exaltus blog. In her Content Marketing role, she focuses on turning her clients’ complex information into a compelling story. Carole particularly enjoys visual storytelling in the form of presentations, whiteboard videos, websites, and infographics. Sign up to her email list and get powerful marketing tips in your inbox, 2-3 times per month.