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5 Essential Color Tuning Tools for Designers

Colourful paint pots

You've just gotten a great web design gig. You’re all ready to get your creativity flowing and get to work on the perfect design for the client, when he tells you that his one desire is for you to use the neon yellow from their logo prominently in the design. Inwardly, you cringe at the color choice, but you know your job is to give the customer what he wants while still coming up with an attractive and modern design.

Not only is there an entire range of colors you can come up with that might satisfy this client, but you also need to choose colors that will offset the yellow and still be visually pleasing. Fortunately, there are tools that can cut down on the amount of time it takes you to come up with your design palette and can also help you perfect how they complement one another.

Even if you are not trying to satisfy a picky client, these color tuning tools can come in handy for perfecting the exact mood you want your designs to evoke.

  • Coolers

If you need to build a color scheme from scratch, Coolors allows you to find the perfect palette for your web design. Input colors and as you find hues you love, you can lock them for safekeeping. You can enter a hex code or you can use sliders to choose a starting color. Once you find a color you love, hit the lock icon to lock it. You can then hit the space bar and the generator will give you a new palette. Lock colors you like and continue until you have five colors of your choosing.


  • Material Palette

Material Palette allows you to choose two colors, such as blue-grey and red. The wizard will then create a beautiful palette of colors with just the right blend and contrast and present you with a ready-made palette of colors. Don’t like the combination presented? You can uncheck a color and select a new color to try out within the palette. The site gives you the hex codes to recreate the look in your design.


  • Colour Combos

If you’ve come across a site where you thought the colors were done particularly well, or you just love one of the colors on the site, you can instantly grab the most prevalent colors from that site with Color Combos. Scroll down the page a bit and plug in the URL for the website whose colors you like. Color Combos will give you the two most prevalent colors, including the hex code. If the color doesn't seem quite right, you can also click the down arrow at the top of the color and use the slider to adjust the color to one of your choosing.


  • Color Safe

Are you worried that your site won't look the same for everyone or that your text may be hard to read? Color Safe uses WCAG Guidelines to create "text and background contrast ratios." This site works best if you already know what you want for your background color. Let’s say you want a beachy blue, so you punch in Hex: #4CBBCC. You can then choose the font and point size you plan to use for your text, and this wizard gives you different colors to use. You’ll be given a goal ratio and can try different colors, then decide which works and is close to that ratio. It’s so brilliant that your readers will never again have eye strain when trying to read a site you designed.


  • Multicolr

Have you ever designed a theme, plugged in beautiful images and then realized that they completely clash with the background or accent colors? Tineye Labs has come up with a solution for this problem called Multicolr Search Lab. Simply punch in up to five colors used in your design and the engine will search for Creative Commons images on Flickr that will look good with your design.


Creating a color scheme that satisfies your artist’s soul and thrills the client is quite a challenge. With a little planning and the use of these tools, you can easily put together colors that blend well together and draw the reader’s eye where it needs to go.

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Written by Adrienne Erin
Adrienne Erin is a freelance designer and writer. You can see more of her work by visiting her blog, Design Roast, or by following @adrienneerin on Twitter.
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