Top 6 Most Useful Color Tools for Designers

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There are a lot of lists of color tools out there, but how many turn out to be of any use? The best tools are user friendly, easily customizable and provide you with every code or file format that you need. Below is a brief list (in no specific order) of color palette tools that I find the most useful for creating web, print and video projects and that I have actually used.

  • Kuler
    Adobe’s color theme tool includes a large collection of community-created color themes that you can use for your creative projects. The most useful aspects of Kuler include the search feature by which you can search by hex color code, tags or theme title. The tags are great because you can find all of the themes related to a specific keyword. Kuler is an Adobe Labs application so you can download themes to use with Adobe Creative Suite applications, making integration with your designs a cinch.
  • COLOURlovers
    A similar community site as Kuler, but with a bit more community. There are also a few differences that could be key to finding the perfect color theme for your project. The main focus of Colourlovers is color trends. So while you can browse community member themes, you can also check out the latest color trends found in popular and successful websites and magazines.
  • Colorcombos.com
    Also has user-created themes and its combo tester application can be useful but nothing extremely different here except for usability preferences. However, the one thing that I really enjoy using is their tool that allows you to enter a website url and pull all of the colors used on that site. Really love the colors I use here on Dracula Vs. Eisenstein? Go to Colorcombos.com to find the color codes I used.
  • ColourMod
    A dynamic, DHTML color picker that you can use for your site (small fee) or, more importantly to me, can be downloaded (for free) as a widget for Mac or PC. I have the Dashboard widget and I use it constantly when working between design applications. I used to need photoshop open to grab a swatch hex code to use in Flash or Dreamweaver and it was not fun, even when using Spaces on my iMac. I save time and RAM which makes life a little less stressful.
  • Dhtmlgoodies.com Color Schemer
    You might take a look at this and wonder why this is on my list. Because its simple. Very simple. And quick. When you need a suggested complimentary color in a matter of seconds, this is a reliable tool. You click on a primary color or type in a hex color code and it generates suggested complimentary, split complimentary, triade, tetrade, analogic and monotone color schemes for you.
  • Colorjack
    Like ColourMod, Colorjack offers a OSX Dashboard widget as well as a website color picker (this one is free!). You’ll have to compare the two color pickers to see if they are worth what they say. The site also has a color theme generator that you may prefer to others. Colorjack’s homepage is a huge block of random color themes, which on its own can offer some inspiration.

I certainly don’t use all of these sites for one project and I usually find one more useful depending on the individual task or project. If you have any color palette tools or sites that you find extremely useful, please add them in the comments section on Designisms .

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