Feature: Color Code Tools - Put colors in Context then make your choices
Motivation: Deciding a color theme/palette for your image designs
SaaS-Software as a Service is the strength of Web 2.0. Added to all the "free" programs and functions like search, maps, mail and dozens of others one can definitively add Color Wheels. Many of these Color Wheels are available as programs that run locally on your PC (see Color Pro Wheel just below). But others are available for free on the Web. All make the complex and very subjective arena of color choices a lot simpler to approach and decide well on. I highlight the ones I have found useful for color choosing both in the Web context and the broader graphic design arena where stand alone operation on your laptop or PC is essential. Some we can show directly here in the review and others we have to link through a screenshot to the original site. Here are some of the sites and tools we have found useful.
Color Pro Wheel $40
Color Wheel Pro is a stand alone program that runs in Windows only and delivers a color color wheel which allows users to see instanteously all of the major color combinations:
monochromatic - one hue predominates with the primary variation being in saturation and brightness.
analogous - one hue is emphasized but neighboring colors are considered. Users control this spread.
complementary - two colors that are opposites on the color wheel but when mixed additively become white.
split complementary - colors as near opposites on color wheel - two of which are split from one of the opposites, again users control the split spread.
triadic - is three colors equally split around the color wheel.
tetradic - is four colors split actually close together, more like complements, on the color wheel.
freeform - there are three freeform color schemes in which just about any combo goes.
There are controls to adjust the spread of splits and to spin the current split setting around the wheel. In addition one has precise slider control of both the saturation and lightness/darkness of each color used in each of the above schemes.
In addition on can see these choices applied to 6 examples:
This ability to quickly visualize color scheme used with typical web or DTP page layouts is very handy. One can see mismatches or glaring color frissons right away. In addition one can use. edit or add to add to the Color presets provided with Pro Color Wheel. This ability to have your own presets is very useful.
Logos with Characters
Corporate Identity Scheme
Color Wheel Pro actually provides two color wheels- Swiss Bauhaus Designer Johannes Itten's RYB mixing color wheel and the RGB Color Wheel. Here is what the vendors says about the latter:
"the visual color wheel is based on the primary colors red, green, and blue. The RGB primaries are used for computer monitors, cameras, scanners, etc. The secondary (subtractive) triad of the RGB wheel is CMY (cyan, magenta, yellow), which is a standard in printing. Also, the human eye contains RGB receptors. Because of this fact, many artists believe that the visual RGB color wheel should be used instead of the traditional RYB wheel to create visual complements."
The pros for Color Wheel are the precise control of every aspect of a color scheme you are working with including the ability to see instantly examples of your color scheme and to export color palettes to Photoshop and other graphics programs. The major downsides are that it only runs in Windows and there is no eye dropper to pickup colors from other screens and images.
Visibone 216 Web Colors
This chart is not nearly as versatile as the SitePro Color chart above, but it has the virtue of showing just the 216 Web Safe colors. A friend calls them the primary Web
colors - and generally they are vivid and punchy as befits the Web. Of course most Web browsers and programs (not to mention PC color monitors) can display a much broader selection of colors than the Web 216; but for efficiency and certainty working within the 216 Web colors is very helpful - particularly for kiosks and mobile apps.
Michigan State University: Color Theory and Exploration
Michigan State University has a wonderful article with some very clever web examples illustrating color combination theory. Just click the white, gray, or black dots to change the background color and to see the color combinations in different contexts. Use the right or left bracket to change the position on the color wheel. For those interested in CSS and Web page design - use your browser's Page Source command to see how all this is done. Good theory, clever Web design.
Color Scheme Designer
One of the earliest and still one of the best color wheels for graphic and web color design:
Here is what the wheel look liked 2 years ago,
and here is the latest wheel:
This Czech bit of color leger de main is highly recommended. It took me about two or three minutes to change the old Keep an Open Eye blog's color styling to the color scheme shown above. This is one of the best tools available for color choosing - and the six tabs along the bottom make this wheel one of the best in the business. Be sure to use the Adjust Scheme tab. Also the tabs for Dark-page example and Light-page example shows the color scheme embedded in a typical page layout. But there is more - users can click on the example layout and have the secondary colors changed in the page layout to see the color fit. In sum, try the free web version, I think you will like it because it is avaialable on Web for free and matches most of the features of the Color Wheel Pro.
Other Color Sources
Color Lovers - see literally hundreds of palettes and commentary and what is being done in the print and fashion world with colors. This is the Ugly Betty place to be for Color and Design usage.
Color Blender - the tile says it all, this site
blends two colors together in steps, very helpful.
Color Mixers- is another nifty color blender/mixer; you can get free source code for it.
Color Schemer - another blend tool but much much brightness aware.
Red Alt - tells you what the color scheme is for any website; quite practical
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