Colors—and the combination of several hues—influence how we think, how we feel, and even how we buy products. That’s why color palettes are essential for professional designers when they’re creating brand identities (and why you see so much red and yellow in fast food logos—more on that in a bit).
But even people who aren’t designers use them for everything from weddings to home design. Want to create your own? Color palette generators make designing color schemes for any type of project far less intimidating—and far more fun.
How to Create a Color Palette
There’s no one perfect way to create a color palette. But these basics will help you get started.
Understand Color Theory, Principles, and Palettes
Color theory, based on the color wheel, defines how certain colors work together. You can use the principles of color theory to create your own palettes. A few of those color schemes include:
- Monochromatic: Different shades within one cohesive specific color (think three different shades of blue)
- Analogous: Three colors next to each other on the 12-color wheel (for example, yellow-orange, yellow, and yellow-green)
- Complementary: Colors from opposite sides of the color wheel (like red and green); also called contrasting colors
- Triadic: Colors made from shades spaced in a triangle on the 12-color wheel (such as red, blue, and yellow).
Consider Color Psychology
Colors aren’t just pretty—they evoke specific psychological reactions. Fast food chains have used color psychology to influence customers by pairing the colors red and yellow in their branding. Red evokes desire and power, while yellow is associated with happiness—and the bold combination creates a sense of urgency. Likewise, luxury brands will often use black in their logos as the color is associated with elegance and affluence.
So before including colors in your work, consider what each color means and the emotions you’re trying to elicit. It’ll help you create the most effective scheme.
Draw Colors from Photos
If you want a realistic color palette that relates to your company or lifestyle, try uploading images of your products, landscape, or environment and draw from them. Color palette generators allow you to do this easily.
7 Best Color Palette Generators
One of the first steps of any design project is setting the tone with a distinct color scheme that includes contrasting colors in the right hues and shades. These random color palette generators will get you started—for free!
1. Canva Color Palette Generator
This simple tool lets you make complex color combinations quickly. You can generate a color palette from images you upload, or search precreated color combinations (with catchy names like Retro Punch and Padlocked Doors!). Just copy and paste the color codes to use them in your digital projects.
2. Adobe Color Wheel
Adobe’s color generator is the best choice for professional designers, as it’s easy to integrate with other Adobe programs. Use the color wheel to discover complementary colors. Then design color palettes based on ten different palette types—monochromatic, analogous styles, and more. You can also extract colors from an image and save them as a custom palette.
3. Muzli Color Palette Generator
If you have one color in mind but aren’t sure what its complementary colors are, check out Muzli’s color palette generator. Selecting one color gives you a variety of combinations, as well as examples of how they’re used in creative designs so you have immediate inspiration for how they can be applied. You can easily download the palette or browse combinations that share similar colors.
Colormind is a gorgeous tool that makes professional-level designs accessible to beginner-level users. Unlike other platforms, you can play around with the palettes by locking in one shade at a time or shifting their position in the lineup. You can easily use it as a wedding color palette generator, as it allows you to preview the palette on a demo website page or even paper or material designs. You can also create palettes from images.
5. CSS Drive Color Palette Generator
CSS Drive might look old school, but it works like a charm. The site is one of the most powerful image color pickers we’ve found. This “color palette generator from image” site allows you to extract four distinct palettes from a single photo: light, medium, dark, and the complete color scheme.
Sexy and sleek, Coolors is a color scheme generator that lets you build color palettes or search existing palettes in its database. You can also use the site to upload photos and extract colors from them. Creating an account allows you to save your palettes. Coolors is available as an Adobe extension, Chrome extension, and iOS app.
If you’ve ever wanted to understand the color scheme behind popular brands like Amazon, Coca-Cola, Direct TV, or Google, look no further. BrandColors serves up exactly what its name says: the color palettes behind popular brands. Clicking any color (like Audi’s white color code) saves the color code to your clipboard.
Put Some Color into Your Life
Create a branding package, choose paint colors for your home, or come up with the mood and theme for your wedding. Whatever it is you need to find contrasting colors for, a color palette generator can make the task easy and fun.
Make Your Own Color Palette!
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