Thursday, October 9, 2014

Create Your Own Colour Palettes

There can't be many people in the bead and jewellery world who aren't aware of Design Seeds and its wonderfully inspirational palettes. This is a recent favourite of mine as I love muted autumnal colours...and as someone commented when I posted it on my Facebook page it has a touch of the Mookite about it.

But have you ever thought about making your own colour palettes to inspire your designs? Colours can evoke memories and strong emotions and never more so than when they are captured in your own photos. That can be hugely inspirational for creating jewellery with meaning but sometimes it can be difficult to separate the colours out and that's where creating a colour palette comes into its own.

There is a lot of free software available for doing this (mostly created for web designers) and from what I've seen most of it is very simple to use. Most allow you to upload your own images directly from a PC whilst other require a url link to a site that hosts the photo such as Instagram or Flickr. I've used some of my own photos to show what you can do but these are just my favourite apps and I would suggest playing around to see which suits you best - different apps will produce different palettes. The link at the bottom of the post will also give you other options.

Adobe Colour CC

I took this image at the Corning Museum of Glass this summer and since these are colours I probably wouldn't think to put together I thought breaking it into a palette would be interesting.


The Adobe software is free but requires a sign up before you can use it. It breaks the image into five colours which you can modify by choosing a colour mood - bright, muted, deep, dark, custom, which it then pin-points on the original image. I really like the flexibility this gives for matching to design elements.

CSS Drive

This image was taken at the home of a friend I spent Christmas with last year and spectacular as it is, it did cause me some concern since I'd just shed my cast after breaking my ankle and was carrying a heavy orthopaedic  boot around...that was fun! The colour variation in this picture is quite subtle so I wanted to see how it would break down as a palette.

The CSS Drive software gives three separate palettes - light, medium and dark and also a full palette which is plotted to show where each tone comes from. This is probably the first software I tried and I've used it for palettes for challenges I've hosted.

This is one of the simplest palette generators I found but it does not (as far as I can see anyway) allow you to upload images from your own PC and requires the url link to a site where your image is hosted. I used an image from Wiki Commons for this one and it produced two palettes - one dull - one vibrant, although I think the vibrant one could have been more so. 

Another simple to use app that will allow you to upload images directly from your computer or link to hosting sites, Facebook etc. This image taken in Siingapore shows a newly hatched butterfly sitting on my arm drying his wings.

The most noticeable thing about this palette is that the neutral background colours dominate whilst the vibrant spot colours don't really seem to come through that much.
I tried it again with an image of Las Ramblas market in Barcelona where the colour is far more evenly spread and the palette it generated was much stronger.

I then decided to try the butterfly photo with the Adobe Colour CC app and there was a huge difference in the palettes generated....

So as you can see, which palette generator you opt for is really a matter of personal preference but as I've said, they are all pretty simple, fun to use and be warned - a bit addictive. You can find more information about similar software here and of course, if you already have a favourite please let us know and we will add the information to our resources page.

The gossiping Goddess


  1. Love this Lesley, the Adobe one looks really good, I'm going to try it out right now! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Thanks for taking the time to illustrate results of the software methods; I will def. explore further... but for now, off to create rather than surf for inspirations this morning! :)

  3. Great post, i didn't know there were so many palette generators, thank you

  4. This was so interesting chick might just have a try at it ......although you know me and techie stuff lol,thanks for this xx

  5. Thank you Lesley! This idea of using color pallets from personal photos is fascinating and you've illustrated it here beautifully!

  6. These are all great! I usually just use Photoshop. I also have a template from Brandi Hussey who is my go-to color guru. I am starting the ideas for the 5th (yes, 5th!) annual Challenge of Color that I host on my blog every November. I will keep these in mind and bookmark this page for reference. Would love to have your all join me in this color-filled celebration! Enjoy the day. Erin

    1. Love your colour challenges Erin so will keep my eye open for details.

  7. Hi Lesley, I find these color palettes fascinating and I wondered how it was done. I may have to give it a try. Thank you for the great comparison between different generators.

  8. Gorgeous colours I just love colour pallettes great for inspiration!

  9. I definitely want to play with these! Thanks for sharing


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