Stefani Wilkens
Stefani Wilkens | Graphic Designer

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Color Scheme Selection Tools

 A snapshot of my 2018 vision board, taken in Pantone Studio.

A snapshot of my 2018 vision board, taken in Pantone Studio.

Color. It's one of the most important tools we designers have at our disposal. The right colors can elevate a brand to iconic status, catch the eye of someone and cause them to linger just a bit longer while looking at a poster, and even tilt the scales in favor of a particular purchase. Color is vital. That's why it's helpful to have certain resources handy when you're ready to determine the color scheme for your latest design. Here are my go tos:

Pantone Studio \\ This (free) little app is exceptionally powerful. Not only is it preloaded with tons of gorgeous color palettes, but it also has the nifty little trick of being able to pull colors from any photo you upload. Say you're in a room that has the exact vibe that's perfect for your latest branding project – simply open the camera in the app and snap a photo to save the perfect hues. It'll give you the Pantone number, hex code, and RGB values! How much simpler can it get?

Adobe Color CC \\ I don't know about you, but I was extremely upset when Adobe left the Kuler plugin behind when it launched CC. The native plugin in CS6 was my jam in college! Thankfully, they've finally come out with an alternative in Adobe Color. Much like Kuler, you can explore all sorts of color schemes as well as make your own. Plus, you can search existing color palettes making it easy to find exactly what vibe you're looking for. 

Paletton \\ Another online option, Paletton makes finding the perfect colors simple via their easy to use interface and massive functionality. You can create color schemes based on your own gut in freestyle mode, or go with monochromatic, adjacent, triad, and tetrad options created off the base color of your choice. It even breaks down your selected hues into tints and shades so that you can see all the options you'll have to work with.

Coolers \\ I find this particular website to be immensely helpful for interactive projects. You can choose to explore palettes created by other users or to generate your own. Their "alternate shades" function is extremely helpful when you're close to having the right scheme but not quite there.

Color: Messages and Meanings \\ Yes, we all dream of owning Pantone swatch books. However, I've found this particular book to be even more helpful throughout my career. It was assigned as required reading for my first graphic design course in college and has occupied a space on my desk ever since. It provides an overview of the psychological effects of different colors as well as color schemes for every mood imaginable. I personally like to use its recommendations as a baseline and then tweak things ever so slightly to create something unique.

How do you go about selecting color for your work? Is there a new tool I should check out? Leave a comment and help a sister out!


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