How difficult do you think it is to put together a bunch of colors and make them work well in a visual design? Well, it’s actually a little more complicated than just throwing colors around. But that’s why there are many color palette generators out there, making our lives much easier.
Creating color palettes is a craft as old as the beginning of visual communication. Even the first artists — cave dwellers — had to create color palettes. They needed to find the right color to use that would contrast over the color of the cave wall. There you go, the first color palette generators.
So what is it about color palettes that’s so important anyway?
You could compare it to how font pairing is important. It’s all about visual balance, feelings, emotions and perception. When we create a visual design, we’re telling a story with imagery. The colors and the text are a big part of that!
The best color palettes are the ones that make you feel something without fully realizing it. When you choose a color palette to elicit a mood, the viewer will feel it. It’s perceptual and subconscious.
But what makes a great color palette, and how can you make one? We’ve put together this guide to help.
You’ll learn some must-know color palette glossary words, browse through 15 color palette generators and discover the most important steps to creating your own color combinations. Let’s get started!
But first here’s one of our most viewed design tutorial on our YouTube channel, all about color and its psychology:
Table of Contents
Color Palette Glossary
Before we start, let’s look at some common terms regarding color palettes. You’ll see these used for the feature descriptions in the following list and inside the generators themselves.
According to color theory, color harmonies are a group of visually appealing colors. Of course, when it comes to color, there’s more to just their position on the color wheel, but these parameters help get a head start on color palettes for any purpose.
The color harmonies you’ll come across when creating color palettes are:
- Complementary: Two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel.
- Split-complementary: One color on one side and two opposite but equidistant to each other.
- Analogous: Colors that are next to each other
- Monochromatic: Similar to analogous but can also be created with hues and tonalities of one base color.
- Triadic: Three colors equidistant to each other that form a triangle.
- Tetradic: Two different colors opposite each other but equidistant on the same side. Four in total.
- Square: Four colors equidistant to each other that form a triangle.
Some tools don’t use the classic terminology and instead use terms like “bright,” “muted,” “strong.”
Hue, Tints and Shades
Hue, tints and shades are terms you’ll see used in color palette generators that offer more options per color combination. In some cases, you might also see the word “saturation” because they are all related.
- A Hue is a pure color at neutral saturation.
- Tints are colors with white added to them. Their saturation is low, and their brightness high.
- Shades are colors with black added to them. Their saturation is high and their brightness low.
You’ll see some color wheels in the color generators that let you move the base color along with relative tints and shades. Paletton is one such tool.
A gradient is a combination of colors that blend, creating a blur effect from one color to another. Gradients of analogous or monochromatic palettes are subtle and soft. All other color harmonies turned into gradients are more powerful.
Creating a balanced gradient takes a good eye and a good choice of colors. Some colors simply don’t look good in a gradient, even if they look good next to each other solidly.
Many tools on this list offer gradient generation from the palettes you choose. Some even give you the option of adding more colors to a gradient, creating complex designs that you can download as an image. Visme offers gradient backgrounds and text effects to add richness to your designs.
Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Palettes
Sometimes one color palette is enough, and other times it’s not. It all depends on the project you’re working on. For a singular presentation or infographic, one color palette with five colors is enough. But if you’re working on a branding strategy for a company that has many visual touchpoints, you’ll need supporting palettes.
When there’s more than one palette, they’re called Primary for the first one, Secondary for the second and Tertiary for the third. All palettes must be inside the brand guidelines document or design system. The idea behind having so many palettes is to create more color nuances in the designs and not bore the viewer with the same five colors repeatedly.
Color Data Types
Color is a very complex concept and is different for every place you see it. The color on screens is not the same as on your clothing, paper and plastic packaging or even wall paint. Every industry that uses color has its own naming and data system for color. Thankfully, there are plenty of conversion methodologies to help you find the perfect color.
Each type of color is said to exist in a color space. The two most common color spaces are RGB and CMYK, for screens and pigments, respectively. Then there’s the Pantone color system which is neither RGB for CMYK but their system altogether.
In the color palette generators on the list below, you’ll find options for color conversion. This image below is how Pantone shares their Color of the Year, with the data values for different color spaces. If you’re creating a color palette to use in Visme, you’ll need the HEX codes.
15 Best Color Palette Generators
Now it’s time to look at your options — 15 to be exact.
Every tool on this list has its perks; some have more options than others, while some are no-frills and straight to the point. We’ve specified which ones offer palette generation from images since that’s a convenient feature.
In the Visme editor, you have access to an integrated color palette generator. Our AI creates a balanced palette from an image of your choice. Save the output palette to your color library easily.
Another way to generate color palettes with Visme is to import your brand assets with the Brand Wizard. This is great if you use Visme for your business or as a freelance designer with many clients.
The best part about the Visme Color Palette Generator is that it’s right inside the editor. You don’t have to go anywhere or leave your project to generate a color palette from an image.
The Brand Wizard palette generator is inside the brand area of the dashboard. It pulls colors from a website and you choose the colors you want to keep as the palette.
You can use Visme for free, but only business subscriptions include the color palette generation feature and Brand Wizard.
Does it generate a palette from an image?
Yes, and it’s right inside the editor!
Visme has many branding capabilities when it comes to color palettes. You can add a color palette to your palette library, create a color theme from a palette or even import your brand color palette — along with all primary brand assets — with the Brand Wizard.
2. Adobe Color Generator
The Adobe color Generator has long been a favorite with designers and was one of the first of its kind. Even though there are many newer generators, Adobe Color is still one of the best and most versatile.
That said, it’s still very much directed at graphic designers and not so much at UI/UX designers like many of the new tools are. But we’re sure they’ll be adding features, like their new “Accessibility Tools.”
The feature that made Adobe Color popular was the ‘Extract theme from a photo’ feature. This tool is still excellent for color palette extraction, with five outputs according to moods. Furthermore, you can adjust the colors one by one, but it’s best to stay within the parameters the AI chose for you since they will be balanced and well nuanced.
The Color Wheel Helps you go further with color palette creation when you like just one color in any mood palette. With the mood palette selected, click on the Color Wheel, set your favorite as a base, and generate color harmonies.
The new Accessibility Tools feature helps you test if the color palette you selected will be easy to read or not. This accessibility feature is excellent for designers and non-designers alike.
Adobe Color is free to create any palette and copy the hex codes or other color modes. But if you want to save palettes and give them names, you’ll need an Adobe subscription.
Does Adobe Color generate a color palette from an image?
Yes, you can use Adobe Color to generate color palettes from an image. The generator offers you six different options according to mood parameters:
You can use Adobe Color to generate initial palettes or look for color harmonies with your already chosen main color for branding purposes.
Coolors is a complex color palette generator with plenty of options for building palettes in several ways. The first time you visit the site, a tutorial wizard shows you the essential features.
This color palette generator is not only great to find colors for a project, but it’s also quite satisfying to use! Plus, they have an app so that you can generate color palettes from mobile devices.
The best feature in Coolors is the full-screen Zen Mode. In this view, the colors take up the entire screen, and a simple space bar tap generates a new palette according to the color harmony you choose.
The Coolors generator helps you build palettes color upon color. Lock one color first and generate a palette around that, then lock another color and keep going. Additionally, browse trending palettes in the library if you’re not sure what you want at first.
Do you need gradients? Use the gradient palette maker alongside the generator to create perfect palettes with your favorite colors. Download the gradient as hex codes or as an image.
Need to know more about the color you chose? Check out the color picker and learn all the variations and resemblances to that color. Here you’ll also find the codes for other color systems like Pantone and Prismacolor
Coolors.co also offers a mood board maker, but they call it a collage. It’s a feature where you upload an image, then the tool generates a palette and puts them both together. Download the finished collage to use however you like.
Free, but you’ll need to sign in to save palettes. An account on Coolors is free, and you can choose to keep your palettes private.
Does Coolors generate a color palette from an image?
Yes, Coolors does offer to generate color palettes from images, but it’s not as smooth as other tools on this list. You have to extract color by color, and that’s not ideal if you’re not a designer.
The best branding capability on Coolors is to create branded gradients with your already selected brand colors. Also, it can help you get inspired if you have no brand colors yet.
Paletton is one of the oldest tools on this list and hasn’t been updated in the last few years. Nevertheless, it still does the job of creating usable color palettes for graphic and web design. What keeps bringing people to Paletton is the easy-to-use UI. Unfortunately, it’s surrounded by ads!
The best feature in Paletton is the base color palette generator. Choose any color from the color wheel or input the color data. Inside the generator, choose from the color harmonies. The four-color output palette shows you the pure color and two shades plus two tints each.
Move the dots in the color wheel to find similar palettes or completely different ones by changing the base color. Use the Randomize button to generate palettes along with four parameters:
- Similar colors, unlike styles
- Unlike colors, similar style
Paletton is entirely free.
Does Paletton generate a color palette from an image?
No, it doesn’t.
You can try out different palettes using one of your already existing brand colors. Paletton isn’t exactly a tool for inspiration.
5. Color Hunt
Color Hunt is a great resource to find color palette inspiration. You can create color palettes, but has no real generation features. It still packs a punch for what it offers, though! Designers love it.
The best feature in Color Hunt is the search option. You can search by color base, by mood or by topic. Need a palette with blue? Browse through hundreds of pre-designed templates that have at least one blue color in them. Do you need a palette inspired by nature? Click on the button, and you’ll find lots!
Color Hunt is entirely free.
Does Color Hunt generate a color palette from an image?
No, it doesn’t. But you can create palettes to share with the community. You’ll need a good eye for color, though; there’s no AI to help.
Not really, apart from initial inspiration.
Khroma is a little different from all the other tools on this list. It asks you to pick 50 initial colors you like to train the AI. It then creates a bunch of palettes for you — quite a unique approach to generating color palettes, especially for personal projects.
Once you’ve chosen the 50 colors to train the AI in Khroma, you have access to all the features. The first color palettes you’re shown after the training — it takes a few minutes — are text and background pairs using the colors from your selection. Each pair can be switched, and every color has a name, so the experience is also quite satisfactory.
Use the menu to pick different views. Choose from two color poster palettes, gradients, duotone images, and four-color palettes. All options include a toggle to manipulate the bias between your color options and the ones generated for you.
Khroma is free to use and keep favorites using cookies or your IP address. There’s no need to sign up or sign in.
Does Khroma generate color palettes from an image?
No, it doesn’t. But you can upload an image to use as the example for the duotone generator.
Not exactly, but you can choose similar colors to your brand in the first 50 options. Like most other tools, this tool helps with initial branding research.
7. Data Color Picker
The Data Color Picker color palette generator is geared mainly at UI designers but can help anyone because of its simplicity and great results.
The main feature in Data Color Picker is the equidistant color palette generator. You choose one color, either on the right or the left, and the generator adds all the other colors in the same hue and tonality but at equidistant locations in the color wheel. This instantly creates balanced color palettes for data visualizations like pie charts, bar graphs and more.
The other two palettes, divergent and single hue, are also quite practical. The divergent palette is made up of two extreme colors and a middle color. In the generator, choose the middle color’s hue, tint or shade, and the extremes change to match. The single hue is a monochromatic palette.
You can test all palettes on light or dark backgrounds, and you can add up to 8 colors in the regular palette, 9 in the single hue and 13 in the divergent. All color palettes are used as data visualizations below the colors.
Free, but is a lead magnet for a UI/UX course.
Does it generate a palette from an image?
No, it doesn’t.
You can use Data Color Picker to generate palettes from one or two brand colors.
8. Colour Lovers
Colour Lovers is a color palette generator but also a community of designers. There are plenty of options for creating, browsing, exploring and discovering color palettes.
The only downside seems to be that it hasn’t been very active in recent years. Nevertheless, you can still create color palettes. We don’t believe this is one of the best generators out there, but it was once!
Interestingly, Colour Lovers offers two separate palette generators, called COPASO and PHOTOCOPA. Unfortunately, their usability isn’t great, seeing as how there are other better options out there.
The Coulour Lovers palette generators seem like evolved versions of Paletton.
Colour Lovers is free but full of ads.
Does Colour Lovers generate a color palette from an image?
Yes, but you have to sign in to use the features. Thankfully it’s free.
Can help to come up with a color palette initially.
9. Brand Folder Workbench
This color palette generator is part of Workbench, a suite of tools available through Brand Folder. It’s solely a palette from an image generator and gets the job done.
Uploading an image to the generator is easy; choose from your devices, Dropbox, Drive or import from a URL.
The output is a well-balanced palette that you can copy one by one, clicking on the HEX code.
This color palette generator — and other tools in the workbench — is free to use five times in one day.
Does Brand Folder generate a color palette from an image?
Yes, it does.
Not really, apart from initial color inspiration from images.
10. Color Hexa
Color Hexa a Color Encyclopedia. Not only does it generate color palettes, but it also provides information on the colors, their best uses and more.
The best features in Color Hexa are the color blindness simulator and the examples of how colors look on text over a background.
There is also a gradient generator where you add a starting and ending color, generating the gradient for you. The color picking for the gradients isn’t very intuitive; you need to know color data and how it works. When you open the information page for any color, there are many things to learn, like conversions, similar colors, shades and tins and a suggestion of color harmonies.
Color Hexa is free.
Does Color Hexa generate color palettes from an image?
No, it doesn’t.
It can help with design systems for web development.
The Material.io color tool is part of the Material.io platform. If you didn’t know, Material.io — also known as Material Design — is the design system created by Google that offers solutions for UI designers in all industries. The color tool helps test colors in user interface designs.
The color tool in Material.io has one purpose, to help you create palettes that will work well in a user interface design. It’s excellent for testing brand colors or creative possibilities. Simply input the color hex code in the system and start building palettes from there.
Material.io is free.
Does Material.io generate color palettes from an image?
No, it doesn’t.
The Color Tool from Material Design can help figure out if brand colors are suitable for the user interface of your website or app.
Colomind is an AI-powered color palette generator. All palettes have five colors and are testable on Material or Paper interface designs.
To use the Colormind color palette generator, lock specific colors and generate new palettes by clicking the ‘generate’ button. Depending on where the locked color is, the AI will create different styles of palettes.
The Colormind team has a series of informative blog posts explaining how the generator works. This is practical knowledge for designers or creators that want to know more.
Colormind is free to use, but there are no saving options for the palettes. You have to manually copy HEX codes to transfer the data to where you need to use it.
Does it generate a palette from an image?
Yes, it does. You get a five-color palette with one image to regenerate until you like what you see.
If you have one primary brand color, you can generate palettes that will work with that color.
13. Muzli Colors
Muzli is a design community from InVision. Along with all the great resources they offer, there’s also a color palette generator. It’s intuitive, easy to use and beautiful.
When you arrive at Muzli Colors, there’s a lovely color grid and a search bar with an image icon. The premise is simple, pick a color or upload an image. Once you have an initial palette, browse similar palettes, visualize how the palette looks on user interfaces.
The results when you use an image to generate a palette are slightly different. The AI shows images with similar colors, as well as related palettes.
It’s free to use Muzli Colors, but you need an account to save your favorite palettes.
Does Muzli Colors generate color palettes from an image?
Yes, but only one at a time. But, it also offers related palettes and images with those colors in them.
Suitable for testing brand colors on UI patterns.
14. Color Designer
Color Designer is more than a palette generator; it’s a complete suite of color tools. There’s a gradient generator, a color mixer, color conversion and two different image color tools.
With Color Designer you can create color palettes from images or starting from a base color. You’re also able to create gradients between two colors and access as many as 40 hues from one color to another.
Color Designer has a color tool that no other generator has, it’s called Color Mixer, and it shows you color outputs when you mix different colors. It’s a different way of finding unique colors you wouldn’t have thought of initially.
Another tool in this suite is the image search function. The AI shows you images that use the color you’ve picked in the palette. The images are sourced from Adobe Stock and separated into categories.
Finally, Color Designer can be used as an add-on or plugin inside Adobe XD and Figma.
It’s free to use Color Designer, but there are no saving options.
Does Color Designer generate a color palette from an image?
Yes, you can choose to generate a palette or pick only one color with a pixel color picker.
You can start with a brand base color and find color palettes. The integrations with Figma and Adobe XD help with Design Systems.
Huemint is an AI and Machine Learning powered color palette generator. It works like many other tools; you lock one color and generate more colors around it. The interface shows you many visualizations of the palette used in UI design and illustration.
The best feature on Huemint is the way it shows you how a specific color palette will look in use. According to the luminosity and importance, the AI knows which color to use for background, accent and primary color.
There are exciting options for how the color palettes are generated; some are bright, others muted, etc.
Huemint is free, but there are no saving options.
Does HueMint generate a color palette from an image?
Yes, but you can’t use it to test in different user interfaces, like the palettes you generate on the top options. This is unfortunate, as it would make the tool even better.
Suitable for visualizing brand asset types before creating them.
How to Choose the Best Color Palette
With so many tools at your disposal, now it’s time to create your very own color palette. You’ve seen how easy it is, but do you know what it takes to create the best palette for your project? Let’s put it to the test.
Here are the most important things you need to remember when choosing the best color palette for your design.
Define a goal or purpose for the color palette.
Before you go and lose yourself in color palette generation, you need to strategize a bit. Likely you know what you need the color palette for, but what are you trying to accomplish with the project? Just as you strategize a goal and purpose for the project, do the same for the color palette.
But how? Analyze the story behind the project you’re working on.
Who is the target audience? What message or feeling are you trying to convey? What’s the cultural background of your project and your audience? Is the project a user interface, a print design or a digital design? Or maybe it’s a branding strategy, for which you need to look even deeper at the colors you choose.
Read up a bit on color psychology and color perception.
These concepts will help you create the best color palettes for the goal or purpose of your project. It’s not enough to simply like the color of a palette generated from an image; there needs to be a deeper understanding of how the colors transfer emotions and tell a story.
Look at trends for inspiration.
If you aren’t sure what combination of colors you’d like to use but do have one color in mind or a mood you’re trying to infer, try looking at trending palettes first. This practice will help open your mind to ideas and color considerations. Save the colors that stand out to you and keep them in a folder.
Some tools in the list above allow you to choose one color or mood and then browse for palettes that fit that parameter. Take advantage of these tools and don’t try and start a palette yourself, especially if you’re not a designer.
For our designer friends, you know what you’re doing. Go wild with the color palette suggestions!
Put together a mood board.
When creating color palettes, one of our favorite activities is to make a mood board to go along with what we’re creating. Mood boards are convenient for visualizing feelings and intentions you want to impart on your project or brand strategy.
A mood board is a collage of images and color palettes laid out on a canvas. It’s the perfect visual tool for explaining color ideas to team members and stakeholders.
A color palette on its own can look great, but you will lose the conceptual feeling behind it if you don’t show what is possible with the colors you chose. Apart from inspirational images, you can also use mockups of products or user interfaces. Having an elaborate mood board for the color palette you’re presenting will help in decision-making.
Below is a Visme mood board template, ready for your color palette!
Start with an image or a base color.
A color palette is nothing without some inspiration to grow from. The seed could be an image or a color that matches the analysis you conducted. Thankfully, that’s all you need to get started.
Upload an image from your mood board into one of the tools that offer color palette generation from images. Visme, for example, has a color palette feature inside the color tab. Upload an image into the wizard, and you’ll get a color palette that you can save to your palettes.
If you have one color and want to see some options, all you need is one of the tools in the list that offer color upon color or color lock features. Many of these tools will take your color and either generate, suggest or show you inspiration. From there, you can keep going until you have the perfect palette for your project.
Consider creating supporting palettes.
Bigger projects, like websites and branding strategies, need more than one color palette. Why? Because the viewers can quickly get bored with the same four or five colors. That’s where secondary and even tertiary color palettes come in.
Let’s get something clear right away, though; supporting palettes are not groups of colors that are super different from the primary palette. The supporting colors must genuinely support and stem from the original colors. For example, they can be pastel tones of the main colors, or lighter hues or darker tonalities.
Furthermore, consider adding a gradient palette to the mix if you’re working on a UI/UX project. These are great for backgrounds, shapes; you name it. Use the colors in the primary palette to create gradients and try some colors from the supporting palettes. This way, you and your team will have lots of more options to work with.
Test the color palette on Visme templates.
The best way to know if a color palette works for the project you’re working on is to test it. Visme offers you a couple of options to do this.
- Create a theme color in the Brand Kit. The best way to test the palette is to create two or three themes with the same colors. Depending on the color order, the AI will place it differently on the template. Once you’ve created the themes, go back to your chosen template and try them out.
- For a branding color palette test, use the Brand Wizard. After inputting all the brand assets, the AI will generate more than 30 templates with that palette. You can also upload the colors you want without extracting anything. The program will still offer 30+ templates.
Take into account accessibility.
Last but not least, always take into account accessibility and visual impairment. When selecting color palettes for your projects, you want everyone to read the text, understand the graphics and see the nuances in the design. Always test your color palettes with accessibility testers or color blindness simulators.
Look through the list again; many of the color palette generators include accessibility features. Adobe Color CC, for example, has a new tab on their platform where you can test if your color palette is easy to read for everyone.
Over to You
Now it’s your turn! Time to create the perfect color palette for your project. In this guide, we shared 15 color palette generators that can help with your color research. Plus, we shared a vital color glossary and an easy how-to guide for creating the best palettes.
The art of putting together color combinations is both a subtle and courageous undertaking. Adding emotional value to colors is how we tell stories that inspire, impact and convert. The right color palette can make a significant difference in the outcome of your project, so put some thought into it and do it right!
Don’t forget that when you’re creating with Visme, you have access to a complete set of pre-designed color themes that work on all our templates. You just have to pick the one that matches the mood you want to convey.
Plus, when you add custom color palettes and themes to your Brand Kit, you’ll be able to create countless designs all in the same color scheme. Creating with color doesn’t get any more fun than this.
Opening a Visme account is easy; all you need is an email or Facebook login, and you’re set. Go beyond color palette generators and manage all your communication content with Visme. We’ll see you in there, can’t wait to see what you create!