Coursework Part 3: Research Point 2: Generating Colour Palettes With Software

Adobe Color CC

This software allows you to create colour palettes from a colour wheel. You can choose to apply a ‘rule’ to your palette to set constraints on what can be chosen (eg, ‘complementary’ or ‘monochromatic’. If a rule is picked, the selection dials hold the relevant pattern (as you choose one colour, the dials will rotate to match your chosen rule). The selection disks on the end of each dial can be moved in and out to vary the tint or shade. Alternatively colours can be ‘tweaked’ by using the sliding indicator bars beneath the selected colour palette, altering the RGB levels and saturation level.

In the example below, I chose to make a ‘custom’ palette based on imagined autumn leaf colours. You have to register with Adobe to save, tag and publish (ie share the palette on Adobe’s Explore section).


Another option is to ‘create from image’. You can upload a photograph or scanned image. Five selectors appear on the uploaded image, which can be moved around the image to select the colours you want to appear in your palette. As well as this custom option, you can also select the colour mood: colourful, bright, muted, deep or dark and the programme will automatically pick out relevant colours from your image. These selections can still be altered by dragging the selectors around the image. Hold down the selector to see an enlarged version of the selected area.

I uploaded this image of my socks on the washing line. A delightful subject.


This is the palette I came up with using the software.


I found this a fast and easy-to-use programme. Having signed up with Adobe, I now have a small library of my saved palettes or ‘themes’ to refer back to. On the downside, you are limited to a palette of five colours and proportions of colours are not represented.

Adobe have an app called Adobe Capture CC, that I have installed on my mobile phone. With the app you can “create color themes, shapes, brushes and looks…”.

When ‘colors’ is selected, it brings up the same library of my ‘themes’ as saved in the Color CC software, so the programmes are linked and, as the name suggests, it enables you to ‘capture’ elements from your environment with your mobile phone camera and manipulate and save them for future use. It could be quite useful for saving inspiring colours, patterns and textures when out and about.

MudCube Colour Sphere

This programme has options for limiting your palette:-

  • ‘Harmony’ (pick from ten options including:- neutrals, clash, five-tone, six-tone etc, which all seem self-explanatory).
  • ‘Vision’ (nine options including:- Protanopia, Deuteranomaly, Achromatomaly. These all seem to be linked to medical conditions where, for example, Protanomaly is “deficient color vision in which an abnormally large proportion of red is required to match the spectrum” (quotation source:-, so for that example, the palette generated will be lacking in red.
  • ‘Quantize’ (Spectrum, Websmart, Websafe are the options, limiting the range of colours you can pick from to fewer and fewer colour variations).

Sliders allow you to alter the hue, saturation, luminance (value) and RGB (additive colours, used in many monitors, for example) or RYB (subtractive colours, used when mixing paints, for example).

Hex numbers are generated for the selected colours, which enables exact reproduction of the selected colours. (Hex numbers contain six digits indicating the intensity of red, green and blue in any colour, from #000000 for black up to #FFFFFF for white).


Here is a six-tone palette generated using the programme.

This felt like a more professional programme to use, with more flexibility and up to six colours in a palette possible. You can save any palette you make to one of three software packages (Illustrator, Photoshop or Palette Creator (colRD), or save the URL for future reference.) On the downside, you can’t import an existing image and the multiple options make it more complicated to use than the Adobe programme.


The ‘Discover’ section of this website has images and colour palettes, single colours, gradients and patterns shared by its users under the Creative Commons licence (ie anyone can use the items for any reason). Other users can save the shared palettes to their own collections.


This rather bilious palette was made using colRD. One nice feature is that, when you select a colour from your palette, the programme suggests other similar colours that you could swap for it (seen at bottom right of the screenshots).


Here is a gradient palette, also from colRD.

To date I have been unable to get a validation email for this site, despite numerous attempts over two days, and signing up with two different email addresses. Another problem (possibly caused by my slow internet connection) is that when I try to import one of my own images, the website immediately tries to upload my entire library of Picasa images, which is enormous, and it fails to complete and I would not want to upload all my images in any case. So it has been a very frustrating experience trying to use this software, and I would not return to it unless the coursework requires it.

Colordot by Hailpixel

This simple software allows you to build a palette on your monitor screen (or an iPhone). You select colours by moving your cursor from side to side to select a hue; up and down to select a value; and by scrolling to select the saturation level.

Click on a colour to save it to your palette, at which stage you can delete it or fine tune it using RGB or HSL parameters. (HSL stands for hue/saturation/lightness (value) and it uses cylindrical co-ordinates to represent RGB  points within the cylinder. The link takes you to Wikipedia’s explanatory diagram. It is also noted that the colour renditions are device-dependent and can therefore vary between devices, which is a potential problem area when you require a precise colour rendition. HSL is used in computer graphics.)


I managed to form a large palette using this software, captured in a screenshot, above. I was not clear on how to (or if it was possible to) export the palette, but it can be saved as a url. On the plus side, this software is easy to use and allows a large palette to be selected and saved.

Color Hunter

This simple-to-use programme allows you to upload an image and it automatically generates a five colour palette (with Hex codes) from your image (example shown at left, below, taken from an uploaded image of autumn trees with a blue sky). You can toggle your palette between vibrant and dull settings, and save it to your favourites, if you sign up with the company.

Another alternative is to search for any terms you like, and the software searches Flickr users’ images to find matching terms. From these images, numerous palettes are generated. The example shown at right, above, was generated with the search ‘Derwentwater Keswick’ and ran to seven pages of alternatives.

This software was fun to use, but somewhat limited in usefulness. You can’t alter the palette generated or choose which colours it picks from the image. The site is covered in adverts, which some may find irritating. allows users to generate palettes (using a basic or advanced interface), patterns, colours, palettes from uploaded images, etc, and has a forum for sharing and discussions.

The palette generators looked useful and there are examples of patterns made by other users to browse.


This site, although it has some useful tools, felt a little commercialised, with some users uploading adverts to generate palettes from, for example.

Paint Shop Pro 8

I have this software on my pc, and used it to select a palette from an image taken from a Hiroshige woodblock print “The Naruto Whirlpool” First I made a set of empty squares, then I opened the image, and used the ‘dropper’ tool to select colours from the image and then used ‘flood fill’ to add them to the second file of blank squares.

Hiroshige image source:-

It was a painstaking task and is now performed more quickly with the online programmes discussed above, which will also keep a note of the Hex codes in some cases.

Potential Problems and Solutions

The potential problem with using additive (on screen) compared to subtractive (printed or painted) colour selections was highlighted for me by printing the images above. The printed results, gave far brighter (more saturated) colours than appear on screen. It is therefore important to know how your palette will be reproduced and used. Will it be on a website, or printed onto a textile, for example? Trials and adjustments would need to be made to ensure consistency. There are websites such as Rapid Tables that give conversions between different colour notation systems. Differences can also occur between devices with their differing ways of handling colour.

Another factor is the perception of colour by each individual – the journey between the eyes’ receptors and the brain add another layer of filtering to the perceived colour.

Pantone Color Institute helps companies with colour trend forecasting, brand colour development, etc, and they produce colour standards and colour guides to ensure consistency (paid for services).


Of the online resources that I have tried, I will return to Adobe Color CC and Mudcube Colour Sphere because they offer the most logical interfaces and useful outcomes.



Hornung, D. (2012) Colour: A workshop for artists and designers. 2nd edn. London: Laurence King Publishing.

Websites:- Accessed 04/11/16 Accessed 06/11/16 Accessed 06/11/16 Accessed 06/11/16 Accessed 05/11/16 and 06/11/16 Accessed 04/11/16 Accessed 05/11/16 Accessed 05/11/16 Accessed 06/11/16 Accessed 06/11/16 Accessed 06/11/16 Accessed 06/11/16




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