There’s no denying it, color is critical to web design and print. Selecting the right colors for your layout can be either be a real drag or a lot of fun. I’ve googled through several dozen color tools from quirky to cool, and have provided a list of my 18 favorite online color tools. WARNING: Though helpful, these tools may also be distracting!
1. Color Scheme Designer
This cool AJAX style color wheel lets you select a color from the color wheel, create various color schemes from your selected color, adjust the saturation/brightness or contrast of your theme, and view your color theme in action within a template layout.
2. Adobe Kuler
Perhaps you would prefer to perform your color selection in flash? Adobe Kuler has a lot of cool features to help you do so. You can create a color scheme from a direct color, or from photo. Once your base colors are selected, you can apply rules to colors or “moods” to colors selected from a photo. There is also a cool feature in the photo color selection process that lets you drag your target around a photo until you find just the right color. When you’ve completed your color theme, you can add the finished palette to the community or browse through other user submitted schemes.
3. Color Rotate
Colors come to life in 3D! The first ever (that I’ve seen) 3D rotating color tool! You can rotate the 3D color model in all directions. Is this feature helpful to designers for selecting a color palette? Possibly. Is it wicked awesome fun? Absolutely.
4. Colour Lovers
Colour Lovers is a cool site that may only be pronounced with a British accent. It is an amazing resource for browsing through user submitted colors, patterns, and
palettes. The site even lists color trends from magazines and websites.
Additionally, Colour Lovers offers 2 sweet color tools, most noteworthy: COPASO, an incredibly complex and full features flash color tool, which is listed below:
COPASO by Colour Lovers
COPASO is one of the many reasons to love Colour Lovers. The site’s author provides this description: “With a scratch pad to save colors you’re working with, a photo tool to extract colors and an advanced color picker and color theory wheel to give you tons of color inspiration. Using COPASO you can save your palettes to a private folder or download them to your local computer. When you’re ready, click publish and share your color palette with thousands of other color enthusiasts.”
5. Toucan by Aviary
Aviary is very creative, vibrant, and stylish bird themed website that has a variety of useful tools http://aviary.com/tools named after species of birds. Their Toucan color tool allows you to pick and analyze up to 20 colors per palette, create color associations, grab colors from images, and a whole lot more via a tidy flash interface.
6. Color Explorer
If you’re going to import colors from an uploaded image, why not do it with a little style? Other noteworthy features include a color palette library as well as manual color palette chooser. This site also hosts a color analysis and a color conversion tool.
Generate color palettes in Munsell and PANTONE. Select colors from library colors, from photos, or using existing user generated user color palettes.
Set your colors free! Create a color scheme from a ton of different pallets that you can adjust in a variety of ways.
9. Colors Palette Generator by CSSDrive
Our friends at CSS drive have put together one of those neat-o photo color extractor tools, that works from file upload or URL. This tool has a nice enhancement of providing light, medium, and dark palettes for each photo uploaded.
10. Color Wizard by Colors on the Web
Find matching colors for the colors you input. Simple to understand, easy interface, and works quite well. If you just want to find a set of matching colors for one you already have selected without the intimidation of more complex color systems, Color Wizard is a winner.
Simple and functional. Grab colors from a website, from a photo, choose your own, or check out color schemes created by others.
12. Color Jack
ColorJack offers 3 different conceptual tools for your color selection needs including: Color Sphere, Color Studio, and the interesting Color Galaxy. If you’re a color voyeur, you may also get a cheap thrill from their color spy feature (ooh la la).
13. Color Hunter
A simple tool when you need to quickly grab the colors from a photo. This site’s self description says it all: “create and find color palettes made from images”, well almost all – you can also save a color palette to your favorites. The most relevant 5 colors are picked from the url of a photo on the web.
Genopal offers 3 interesting color tools: 1. pick a color to create a scheme. 2. Create a color scheme from a photo. 3. Apply the color scheme from one image to another (whoa – trippy).
15. DeGraeve Color Palette
An alternative photo color extractor. This tool provides color palettes in dull and vibrant.
16. GPeters Color Schemes
I’m not sure how useful this tool will be to design, but it is a fun color tool to goof around on. You can enter literally any word you want, and it will search yahoo, grab 5 related images, and extract 6 colors per image. Something about not seeing the images you’re grabbing the colors from makes this tool a bit provocative.
17. I Like Your Colors
Like the colors of a particular website? Just enter the URL of that site and grab em!
18. Color Toy
The author of this website says it best: “ColorToy 2.0 is a Flash based color scheme generator and picker. It generates complementary color schemes based on your inputted color values or randomly, which is much more fun.”