Adobe's colour palette cheat sheet could save you a whole lot of time

Colour theory can be a complex area of design. Understanding the relationships between different colours can help you use colour more effectively in your designs, but even then choosing the right palette can take a lot of time. Happily, Adobe has just shared a whole bunch of suggestions that can give us a head start and save us time when we're working against the clock.

The guys at Adobe Express have proposed a massive 101 colour combinations that can serve to create styles and moods to suit a range of design projects, from 'natural and earthy' to 'clean and modern', 'moody and gothic' and many more. And if you find one that almost works but isn't quite right, you can quickly edit it in Adobe Express.

Colour combinations suggested by Adobe Express

Take your pick: Adobe makes colour palettes easy (Image credit: Adobe)

Adobe's used traditional colour theory to create five-colour palettes through a mix of analogous, complementary, monochromatic or triadic combinations. The resulting colour combinations can serve as a handy quick resource for designers looking for inspiration on what colours to use in their projects.

Illustrators might find inspiration for their art, while designers might just find the perfect colour palette for graphics, a UI design for an app or even inspiration for home décor. Here are a few examples of the combinations proposed.

Natural and earthy

Colour combinations suggested by Adobe Express

Adobe Express suggests these earthy colour palettes could suit wellness brands (Image credit: Adobe)

Natural, earthy tones have been big over the past few years, with warm desert colours and forest green seeking to communicate a reconnection with nature. These could be a hit in work for health and wellness brands.

Clean and modern

Colour combinations suggested by Adobe Express

Neutral tones with a blast of colour can create a clean, modern look (Image credit: Adobe)

These suggestions mix muted hues for a light, clean feel with a pop of brighter colour for impact, for example, royal blue against more muted colours. Adobe suggests using these when the message needs to take centre stage.

Bright neons

Colour combinations suggested by Adobe Express

There's nothing subtle about these colour combinations, but they certainly get attention (Image credit: Adobe)

Not feeling subtle? These neon combinations with high-contrast primary and secondary colours are energetic and eye-catching. They can be garish in some situations but they can work well in posters and ads that need to make a big impact.

90s throwback

Colour combinations suggested by Adobe Express

Travel back to the 90s with these colour combinations (Image credit: Adobe)

You've probably noticed that the 90s are back with a bang lately. If you want to take advantage of the nostalgia wave, Adobe has some suggestions. It's come up with fun jewel-toned palettes (think Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Beverly Hills 90210) and more neutral grungy palettes (Twin Peaks or early Friends) that could be complemented with distressed icons.

Moody and gothic

Colour combinations suggested by Adobe Express

Unleash your inner goth with these moody palettes (Image credit: Adobe)

It's not all bright, uplifting colour combinations. Adobe Express also has suggestions for some dark, brooding palettes. Here we have hunter green, navy blues, dusty pinks and deep jewel tones combined with charcoal blacks. Perfect for adding some atmospheric gravitas to everything from posters to social media posts.

You can see all 101 colour combinations on the Adobe website. Designers will usually want to create their own bespoke colour palettes for each specific project, but Adobe's suggestions are broad enough to provide plenty of inspiration, and each palette can be tweaked to make it more unique. 

See our pick of some of the best uses of colour in branding for more inspiration. And our piece on the golden rules of UI design deals with the use of colour specifically in interfaces.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.