25 Awesome Tools for Choosing a Website Color Scheme

by on 16th November 2009 with 144 Comments

As a designer, color management should be an integral part of your workflow. A website’s color scheme helps shape its identity and therefore should not be carelessly thrown together. Here are 25 online, desktop and iPhone applications to help you live and breathe color management no matter where you are.

Online Tools

There are simply a ton of free color tools available on the web. However, a cursory search reveals that most are extremely basic and simply mimic everything else out there. Here’s a few that I found that stood out in either design, usability or features.

Kuler

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Kuler is one of the best free online color scheme creation tools out there and my personal favorite. You can browse tons of pre-made color schemes or create your own using an advanced yet simple to use interface. My favorite feature of Kuler is that access is built right into Adobe Illustrator so it’s never far away. There’s also an AIR app and Dashboard widget available for even more access options.

Color Scheme Designer

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Color Scheme Designer has a beautiful interface that helps you create beautiful color schemes in seconds. colorblind simulation is built in so you can ensure usability will be optimized for all users.

Colour Lovers

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An online community where color aficionados can create, share and browse color schemes.

Pictaculous

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The guys at MailChimp created this excellent free service. Simply upload a picture and automatically get a color scheme to go with it. Suggestions from Kuler and Colour Lovers are built in and you can download the Adobe swatch file.

Color Spire

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A simpler, no frills interface that helps you build a five swatch color scheme. Provides a nifty preview of the selected colors working together on a basic site frame.

Daily Color Scheme

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Every day brings a new featured color scheme. Choose from a variety of download formats and browse past color schemes.

Instant Color Schemes

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Though the interface is a bit lacking this tool is actually pretty helpful. Just type in a word or phrase (Ex: Firetruck) and you’ll get 24 of the most prominent colors that result from the first five images in a matching Yahoo image search.

Color Explorer

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Color Explorer is the most fully featured online solution I came across in my research. The impressive feature list includes a number of advanced tools for creating and converting your own color palettes as well as the ability to browse popular schemes. If you fancy yourself a color expert, this one is for you.

Color Rotate

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Color Rotate is a lot like a 3D version of Kuler. The interface is not exactly intuitive, but it sure is pretty and fun to play with!

Toucan

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Toucan has all the quality and richness you’d expect from an Aviary application. Use the interactive color wheel to create schemes on the fly and take advantage of the color theory features built into the application. Like Color Scheme Designer, Toucan comes with a colorblindness simulator supporting all major types of colorblindness.

Colour Grab

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Type in the URL of a image, get the most frequently appearing colors and a nice 3D pie chart so you can see how often a color appears. Downloadable Adobe swatches built in.

Color Jack

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A simple interactive color wheel with several customization options and color theory formulas.

Desktop Applications & Widgets

Web apps are great, but sometimes you need a local solution that doesn’t require you to navigate to a website and is easier to merge with your current workflow.

Tangerine (Mac)

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Tangerine provides a color palette that remains consistent across a wide array of graphics applications making it easy to use the same colors throughout your design process as you switch apps.
Price: $39.95

Color Schemer (Mac or PC)

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Color Schemer is a fully featured color palette creation application. Get all the features of some of the most popular web apps and more with the convenience of an always present desktop application. By far the best desktop solution I found.
Price: $49.99

ColorBurn (Mac or PC)

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ColorBurn gives you access to tons of beautiful color schemes right in your OS Dashboard (or Yahoo Widget interface). ColorBurn features daily palettes of four colors and the ability to browse the previous week’s schemes.
Price: Free

Swatch (Mac)

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As an avid Mac user, I love men bar apps. Swatch is an extremely helpful little app that puts color swatch management and creation right in your menu bar and therefore easily accessible from any application.

ColourMod (Mac or PC)

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ColourMod is a stylishly designed widget that provides a quick and easy way to grab any color’s Hex value.
Price: Free

iPhone Apps

The iPhone provides a great way to bring color management and scheme creation with you everywhere you go. Another bonus is the multi-touch interface, which adds an element of direct interaction that you don’t get with a mouse. Here’s a list of great iPhone apps I found along with the descriptions from their creators.

Color Expert

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“Color Expert is an interactive color wheel and swatch library that helps artists and designers identify, translate, capture and showcase color.”
Price: $9.99

CliqCliq Colors

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“Colors is an easy-to-use color picker for discovering, converting and managing colors and palettes.”
Price: $2.99

My Pantone

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If you’ve ever been a print designer, you’re probably fond of color books full of Pantone swatches that fan out into a rainbow of easily browsable colors. MyPantone offers this functionality in the convenience of an iPhone app.
Price: $9.99

Color Stream

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“A beautiful color tool for the iPhone, Color Stream lets you create and store color palettes that are either created from scratch, generated from a photo, or even auto-generated using our built-in color schemer (which supports analogous, monochromatic, triadic and more!).”
Price: $2.99

Loupe

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“Simple and thoughtfully designed, Loupe lets you create color swatches from your photo library or using the camera to save colors as you find them.”
Price: $0.99

Think Ink: Color Unleashed

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“Think Ink is a free iPhone application that lets you explore color combinations from the Dewey Color System, create custom color palettes, and order coordinating paper samples from Neenah Paper.”
Price: Free

Vibrant Color Picker

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“Vibrant is a full featured color picker/color chooser and gives you all the tools that a designer needs to identify and manage colors and color themes on the go. Take a photo of the target with the integrated camera, pinch and drag the cross-hair to select a color, spin the color wheel and slide the sliders to adjust your color and tap the star to save your new color in the palette.”
Price: $0.99

Conclusion

You should now be equipped to create fantastic color schemes for everything you design. We examined a variety of web apps, desktop apps and iPhone apps to get the job done in plethora of different ways. Let us know if you liked any of these applications and what comprises your personal color workflow!

Comments & Discussion

144 Comments

  • Rob

    Not enough. We need 50. No. 100! Maybe more.

  • http://jfoucher.fr Jonathan Foucher

    Cool, I especially like the ones where you upload an image and get a palette back. Any more of these ?

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  • http://www.designfollow.com designfollow

    very useful

    thank you

  • http://iampaulburgess.co.uk/ Paul Burgess
  • http://www.greenandchic.com carla

    Great list! I’m always looking for colors for my website and at the same time, keep it simple with plenty of white space. I wish I’ve known of these tools in the past though.

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  • http://www.divorcelawyersorlando.com Orlando divorce lawyer

    Great list. I haven’t seen these before. Trying to create a color scheme for my personal website.

    Thanks for the list.

  • http://visualpanic.net Lali

    The last update at Daily Color Scheme was on September 20, 2006 … it’s a pitty!

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  • http://www.ximnet.com.my/ Web Design Malaysia

    Great reference for the designers, definately will get my team to use them :)

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  • http://www.liminal-design.co.uk/ Liminal Web Design Cornwall

    These are awesome, I’m always looking for new colour-ways so these are definitely going to come in handy. I already knew about Kular and Colourlovers but there are some really handy web design resources there.

    Ryan

  • http://www.wedgeim.com/ Calgary webdesign

    good article i will use this info for sure

  • http://www.wedgeim.com/ Calgary web design

    thanks these are great

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  • http://shawnhooghkirk.com Shawn Hooghkirk

    Great collection, thanks for sharing.

    No excuses now for not having a great color scheme ;)

  • http://www.itsashirt.com Itsashirt T shirts

    Normally I use ‘feeling’ and ‘experience’ but some schemes can be helpfull

  • http://www.rebeccahaden.com Rebecca Haden

    Great collection! Add Big Huge Labs — http://bighugelabs.com/colors.php — nice color scheme generator using your uploaded photo or URL, which will even generate sample CSS for you.

  • http://www.pixel8design.wordpress.com Alyssa

    AWESOME post, guys!! I LOVE this!! I still think that ColourLovers should be listed at the top :) If you follow me @pixel8design on twitter, I tweet a lot showing my tweet deck color scheme.. most I pulled from ColourLovers! :) Oh and on colourlovers… I’m “nanochromaddict” hook up with me there, and don’t forget to say hi to “logochic”… she has some amazzzzzing schemes up there, too!

    Thanks for a great post. I’m a n00b when it comes to the design world, but when it comes to color… that’s something I tend to ADORE. Thanks for all the desktop and iPhone links, too!

    ColourLovers is STILL the best!

  • http://sumerasblog.wordpress.com/ Aremus

    Nice collection, thanks for sharing.

  • priti

    Nice:-) I was looking for something like that only! Would also love to have one which also takes care of WCAG 2.0 color specifications? Color blindness support is there looking for contrast…

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  • Robin

    ColorImpact is missing! It is better than all this tools put together. http://www.tigercolor.com/

  • http://www.swiftapplications.com mike

    a great tool to work on.

  • http://www.stylomart.com mair

    great blog version i can work on

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  • Amy

    Great reference. thanks! Ignore that guy ROB at the top. How ungrateful! :) All you really need is ONE good one.

  • http://www.famewarez.com mack

    hello,
    thanks for ur valuable information.but some schemes can be helpfull

  • http://www.studentbrands.co.za Student Brands

    Thanks for the great information. I hope to be back soon. I have book marked it keep posting. Thanks again.

  • http://wwww.promotionking.net paul

    Thanks for the information kuler is a great tool.

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  • http://www.limobaltimore.net russel

    nice work done Kuler

  • http://www.ambillingsolutions.com Mike

    Iphone app is really a great app.

  • http://www.itsyllabus.com Sarch

    colors are superbly done .

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  • http://www.stylomart.com shooper

    nice work done.

  • http://www.itsyllabus.com six sigma online

    all apps are superb.

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  • http://www.balibestaccommodation.com tude

    I wish PC color picker and the software giving the best color combination. Is there ?

  • http://www.thomascraigconsulting.com Thomas Craig Consulting

    Excellent list, I like using kuler and colour lovers.

  • http://www.extremecreative.com.au Adriana Web Design

    Excellent list. Color Spire is definitively my favourite, but what I like about this list is that resumes all of them in one list.
    Thanks!!!!

  • http://www.goblinridge.co.uk Ted Thompson

    Great list of resources, will have to check some of these tools out. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.bydaughters.com Graphic Chick Brisbane

    This is a page I will bookmark. Great list! Thanks for putting this together and sharing it with us!

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  • http://www.clarityheadsets.com Clarity Headsets

    i think its just great.

  • http://www.swiftapplications.com web development ontario

    nice tools to work on.

  • http://www.cs55headsets.com cs55 headsets

    Nice work done.

  • http://www.mavermedia.com/blog Brad Maver

    Great list. They are all awesome apps that help alot. Thanks!

  • http://www.magicphonestore.com Plantronics headsets

    great list i hope to get them more.

  • http://www.mylimos.net Limo in washington

    nice list work done.

  • http://www.walkwithoutpain.com.au Sandy the Podiatrist (Brisbane)

    Wow. So much good stuff and no price to pay. That is amazing to me

  • http://www.walkwithoutpain.com.au Sandy the Podiatrist (Brisbane)

    Picture in -> palette out. How sweet is that?

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  • http://www.saviheadsets.com Savi headsets

    nice work done.

  • http://diverselabs.com Tony A

    Comprehensive article – well done.

    Some may find colorswatch for the iphone interesting and useful.

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  • http://www.cheapleafletprinters.com Cheap Printing

    lots of amazing colours there, good article too.

  • http://www.RozanneSzarek.com Miriam Eidson

    I carry on listening to the news bulletin talk about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i find some?

  • Matt

    Great list. Thought I’d add http://www.ColorCombos.com. You can bookmark your color scheme, and you have a little more control over the template example.

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  • http://www.almekhlafi.com Almekhlafi Portal

    very nice
    thankyou very much

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  • http://pixelbot.org.ua Pixelbot

    Nice list, very halpful thanks!

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  • rie kabana

    wonderful list, i like it

  • http://www.fajasshapewear4.co.cc shapewear

    These are very helful tools to work on

  • http://www.mediadog.ca Media Dog

    Wow, had no idea there were so many out there – thanks for this!

  • http://www.tactfootpro.com Debbie Ashmore

    Awesome collection, I’m always looking for new ways to access colour so these are definitely going to be useful. I already knew about Kular & Colourlovers but there are some excellent other design resources here.

  • http://moneyqik.com/ sree

    great this is really informative.

  • http://www.painfultoenails.com.au Toena Ils

    Excellent list. Colour Spire is definitively my favourite. I like your colours on this site too btw

  • http://www.abdwebsitedesign.com Gilroy Web Design

    Love the list. It will take me a month to go through them all. Which is your personal favorite? I have always used Color Schemer, but there seems to be a lot more out there.

    Thanks for putting this together!

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  • josh

    The best color resource on the web right now is http://colorpilgrim.com It has colors filed into mood, trend & industry which works really well for me.

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  • http://thethermalmug.com Ken Richards

    Nice list of tools – I’m pretty old school, and use the spinning paper cardboard color wheel, but I can see where these tools would be efficient – going to give a couple a try I think.

  • Suma

    http://colorpilgrim.com is missing from this list!

  • 3lli3y

    Thank you for sharing, as a new designer I am trying to learn as much as I can. I have a lon way to go, thank you.

  • http://www.designzzz.com/ Tayyab

    Not just the collection is great, the order is also perfect. Important ones, like Kuler at the top. This post was quite helpful for me. Thanks.

  • http://www.honourchick.com/blog honour chick

    very useful tools thanks for sharing this great compilation.

  • http://www.thecreativenoise.com logo design brisbane

    Such a cool article. Really found this useful!!

  • http://www.thecreativenoise.com logo design brisbane

    updates please – Ill bookmark you.

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  • http://twitter.com/ozloya oz

    ..awesome!!

    thanks for sharing.

  • http://jasimmk.com Jasim Muhammed

    Did u check http://uicart.com ? it provides ability to search with color patterns and related colors. Showcase the User interfaces

  • http://ryobiweedeaters.com John Greenstone

    This is awesome collection of tools. This was more then helpful.

  • http://scripting.chaindb.com/ Guyven69

    cool tools, it helps me a lot.

  • http://www.saltcrafts.com himaliyan salt lamps

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that:

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    Are they arranged in any particular order? If so, Color Spire really should be higher on the list. It’s by far my favorite.

  • Rosie

    Do any of these tools do a w3c colour check for brightness and contrast? That would make it so much easier to design a universally accessible website.

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  • http://www.domain4me.in Domain Registrar

    Awesome list of tools. This is a must to have list to any web developer’s arsenal. Thanks for providing this.

  • http://skotgat.com Rahul Banker

    the 2nd tool of this list was really a great one! thank you for the share :)

  • http://shuttur.com Shuttur

    I use Kuler on a daily basis.. couldnt live without it

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  • http://www.telecomGyaan.com tahera

    Good.. i would definetley use some of the tools while re designing my website look…. i want a combination of red & blue….

  • http://cuentos.bohodon.es/modules.php?name=Forums&file=profile&mode=viewprofile&u=6447 Scottie Pilbin

    We’re a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with helpful information to work on. You have done a formidable process and our entire community can be thankful to you.

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  • http://listof5.com Abhishek

    Really useful article. Bookmarked for future reference! :)

  • http://www.wickedwebsites.ca Calgary Design

    The “Think Ink” app in particular is quite useful thanks.

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  • http://www.xportsoft.com/ Hardeep

    cool………

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  • http://www.facebook.com/vedetteshapewear Vedette

    Who would have guessed that choosing a website color would be this hard. Thank you mypantone for making it easier for me.

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  • http://realcolors.makan-studios.com Andrei Blaj

    For Android users, there is Real Colors (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.macaw.pro), an app that automatically generates harmonious color palettes.

  • Meredith

    Is that Alyssa as in “Alyssa and Francois”? bet you it is! Hey :) I’m picking colours for my website and will check out colour lovers thanks

  • http://www.rentawebdesigner.com Rent A Webdesigner

    this is an amazing list! some of these color tools im familiar with, but others are completely new to me! thanks

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  • http://colorsbynumber.com/index.html Keith Lovell

    Here’s another: Colors by Number – for iPad – its latest upgrade has been enhanced with lots of new features and functionality. The Colors by Number user interface provides multiple options for viewing, defining, adjusting, managing, printing and sharing select color sets. It is also intended for teaching the nuances of color theory as an experience. See for yourself.

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  • http://www.mixweb.com.my Web Designer

    What a great post! This article makes me have fresh ideas to make new things.

    Thanks a lot!! =)

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    nice sites thank you!

  • http://cheapcanvasprints.com.au/ Sam

    These are great tools to use! I have done both print and web design in the past but I can use this idea to make a difference in my project now. It’s nice to know that we can actually go beyond the boring color combination. Thanks for the fresh info!

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    Very interesting and useful! Thank you!

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