Picking color palettes has never been easier with the widespread use of smart phones and tablets. I’m going to feature four free applications that I use on my iphone to either pick from a photograph found online or a picture I snap as I walk around my neighborhood! Above is the sample image from a recent photo shoot that I used to test drive these different applications.
The first is called Adobe Color CC. Easy to use, you can take a photo in the moment, access your library of existing photos or a collection on the Creative Cloud for your source image. Once you have a photo imported into the application it’s easy to use your finger to drag the different circles to areas of color within the image that you’d like to feature. There are also several preset settings that will automatically seek out “Bright”, “Dark” or “Muted” areas of your photo for you. Adobe Color only allows you to work with five colors within a single palette and while that’s a fairly limited number this app was a delight to use. I was able to figure out how it worked, pick a palette then e-mail myself the final version of my color choice within minutes.
The second application, called ColorSchemer has some more advanced options for those of you interested in choosing a basic palette from a photo and then adjusting it around a colorwheel or adjusting individual colors. This application was incredibly useful but it did have a steeper learning curve for me. I was able to play around with one palette to get exactly what I wanted in each color but I did wind up spending more than ten minutes fussing and perfecting my choices. This was such an engrossing process and I loved how deeply I was able to customize everything! I would absolutely recommend this one even though it also only gives you five colors to work with in each palette.
The third application is Palettes. Simply select a photo from your library and it generates a complete and large selection of colors for you based on that photo. In my example it generated a palette of 25 colors. While you can’t change which colors it automatically chooses, you can select a swatch that’s not quite what you were looking for and adjust the color levels.
This was by far the most complicated program with a huge variety of ways that you can adjust colors within your palette. This seemed the most “professional” of the applications and it’s helpful to have a knowledge of color terminology. You can find colors that are websafe, get the CMYK/RGB values and other pieces of information that are so useful for creating a detailed color palette. However, this deluge of information can be more than you need when you’re trying to pull colors from a picture of your super cute cocker spaniel for a pair of mittens to match his lovely coat. For example: above is the palette that the application automatically pulled from my sample photo.
The last is ColorSnap by Sherwin Williams. Very similar to Adobe Color CC and ColorSchemer, this application allows you to easily and quickly use a photo from your device and adjust the areas of color selection by moving the circles with a drag from your finger. Unlike the first two apps, ColorSnap lets you pull 8 colors from a single photo giving you a wider range to work with, perfect for more complicated projects. I found it easy to share my photo either by e-mail, social media or saving it right to my phone for later.
Take a minute to browse through these excellent free resources the next time you’re putting together a color palette for a project. I would love to hear about your experiences with these applications or suggestions for more that I haven’t mentioned here. What’s your favorite way to pick colors? How do you gather inspiration? Let me know in the comments!