Need help choosing colors? These color scheme tools are your shortcut to choosing beautiful color palettes – that match every time! Plus they’re just fun.
It can be daunting to choose a color scheme, no matter what project you’re working on. But what if you could turn that into the fun, inspiring part of the process? I’m sharing my favorite tools to build a color palette you love – and they’re all free!
How to use color schemes
Whether you’re working on a graphic, building a website, or designing a couch for your living room, you need a color scheme. Think of it like a set of boundaries – stay within these colors, and you’re guaranteed to love the outcome – of the colors, that is. I can’t vouch for the couch!
A color scheme makes your project easier. It grounds your project and gives you a palette to choose from for every element. You don’t have to keep wondering if this blue matches that green, or suddenly need to find a color that matches purple and orange because you’ve already figured that out before you even started! Just go with your color scheme and keep moving.
A good rule of thumb is to choose 3-6 colors for your color scheme. You want 2-3 “main colors”, and then a lighter and/or darker shade of each. This makes it easy to combine your colors no matter what your project is.
PRO TIP: A hex code is a 6-digit number that you can enter in design programs, like Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Canva. If you have a color’s hex code, you can get that exact color for your designs – no guesswork!
4 Color Scheme Tools
Tool #1 – Coolors
I use this site a lot. Press the spacebar to generate a new color scheme, and “lock in” the colors you want to keep. Keep hitting the spacebar for more ideas to match your chosen colors. You can also type in a custom hex code and generate a color scheme around that color.
Upload an image and automatically get a color scheme that matches. You can play around with the image until you have a color scheme you like. When you’re done, download a collage of the image and the hex codes.
Use the “Explore” feature to get inspiration from color schemes made by other users.
Tool #2 – Adobe Color
Website: Adobe Color
You can use Adobe’s color scheme tool whether you use Adobe programs or not. What I love about Adobe Color is that it matches your colors to the color wheel, and automatically generates colors that are complementary, shades, monochromatic, etc.
If you’re not familiar with the color wheel, don’t sweat! You don’t have to know the terms – just choose an option from the drop-down menu and see if you like the results.
Bonus: if you use an Adobe program like Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator, you can save the color scheme to your library, and access it right in your program.
Like with Coolors, you can also upload an image to get colors, and “explore” to see color schemes by other users.
Tool #3 – Color Space
I just found Color Space, and it’s got some cool features.
You enter a hex code (of one of your brand colors, for example), and Color Space will serve up a TON of color palettes in SO MANY VARIETIES. Gradients, shades, bright, subtle – it just keeps going!
Gradients are a huge trend that will be around for awhile, and Color Space’s gradient tool is amazing for choosing 2 or 3-color gradients that will work well. I can see using this for websites, apps, and Pinterest graphics.
Tool #4 – Design Seeds
Website: Design Seeds
Straight-up gorgeous inspiration. It’s just so pretty here.
Design Seeds serves up pre-made color schemes that are sure to inspire. Jessica Colaluca, the “Seeds Maker” behind Design Seeds, pulls stunning colors from photos, then gives you the hex codes so you can use the color scheme in your projects.
Choose “Explore By” to choose a color and see all the matching schemes – really helpful when you know the color you want to start with, but are unsure of how you want the rest of the palette to play out.
You can also search by collection (like “summer”) if you’d like to see everything matching a certain mood.
One last tip for color schemes…
Don’t stress too much about where you use each color in your design.
Should I make this block dark blue or light blue? Should I try every color combo possible for my color scheme to find the “right” combination? What if I do it wrong?
I know you.
So long as you stick to your color scheme, there are a lot of “right” combinations for how to apply it – just pick one and go with it! That’s why you chose a color scheme in the first place – the colors work together!
Don’t let choosing a color scheme trip you up. Remember my go-to color scheme tools and get moving on your next project!
Want more inspiration? Check out some of my premade color schemes.
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