8 free apps for picking a colour scheme

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As a visual creative, colour is one of the most important tools at your disposal. But how do you go about creating the perfect colour scheme for your design?

These apps can all help you pick the perfect palette, to make your design sing. And the best news is, they’re all completely free.

Check out our guides to colour theory and using colour in branding to help you pick a palette, then give these apps a try.

01. Color Hunter

Upload an image and generate a colour scheme with this free web app

Color Hunter is a browser-based tool that lets you find and make colour palettes created from images. Just upload your image and get a palette based on the colours it contains. 

Alternatively, enter a search term in the box at the top of the page; Color Hunter then searches Flickr.com for matching images and uses them to create a colour palette.

02. ColorExplorer

Use ColorExplorer to create palettes and then export them to software like Photoshop

ColorExplorer is a free online toolbox for designing and working with colour palettes. Developed for professional designers, it’s been in development since 2006 and all features are free to use. 

These include colour matching; browsing popular colour libraries; conversion hints between multiple colour libraries (RAL, TOYO, and more); palette export for use in software like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign; colour palette analysis and import from images and text files; and centrally stored palettes for easy access.

03. Paletton

Paletton uses colour theory to present you with harmonious colour combinations

Formerly known as Color Scheme Designer, Paletton is a designer tool for creating colour combinations that work together well. You start with a base colour, and Paletton then generates similar shades that will complement it. 

In this way, the web app guides you through building up a colour palette for your design based on one of five styles, which it calls Mono, Complement, Triad, Tetrad and Free style.


COPASO lets you create a colour scheme in three ways

COPASO is an advanced colour palette creator from creative community COLOURlovers (it also provides a more basic alternative here). COPASO’s one-stop interface lets you create a colour scheme in one of three ways: choosing colours, uploading images, or entering CMYK or HEX values. 

You can save and publish your colour palettes, and there’s even the handy ability to add notes to them.

05. Colorzilla

With ColorZilla you can get a colour reading from any point in your browser

Colorzilla is an extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers to assist designers with colour related tasks, both basic and advanced. With ColorZilla you can get a colour reading from any point in your browser, adjust this colour, and paste it into another program. 

You can also analyse the page, inspect a palette of its colours, and create advanced multi-stop CSS gradients. 

06. Pictaculous

Pictaculous lets you generate a colour palette from any photo or image

Pictaculous is a colour palette tool from email marketing giants MailChimp that enables you to generate a colour palette from any photo or image, in PNG, JPG or GIF format. It also gives you suggestions from COLOURlovers of similar colour palettes, and lets you download an Adobe Swatch of your chosen palette.

07. Coolers.co

Coolers.co generates a new palette every time you press the spacebar

Coolers.co is a web app that offers a quite unusual way to find the right colour scheme. Basically, every time you press the spacebar a new palette is generated, so the idea is you keep going until you find the right inspiration. Alternatively, you can browse through the various palettes that other users have found and liked.

08. Color Hunt

Color Hunt offers a curated collection of colour palettes

Similar to Coolers.co above, Color Hunt offers a “curated collection of beautiful colors, updated daily”. Add its Chrome extension to your browser, and you’ll get a new colour palette every time you refresh your browser window.

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