7 Best Free Color Palette Tools Online
This post was last updated on July 8, 2020.
Harness the power of the internet by finding the best color combos for your designs. Here are our top website picks for painting with all the colors of the wind.
Neon and bright or pastel and muted? Monochromatic or full-on rainbow splash? A good color palette can set the mood and convey specific feelings, making it a treasured aspect in every design project, from fashion to web design and more.
Yet, crafting the perfect color combination can often lead to us obsessing over tiny tweaks and adjustments of saturation, brightness and hue. To make things more efficient – and fun – we suggest utilizing some of the best color tools and resources that the internet has to offer.
Here are our top free color palette generator tools, covering everything from color schemes to text readability and even the shades of your Instagram feed:
7 best free color palette generator tools
Adobe Color CC
Color Tool - Material Design
01. Adobe Color: Explore existing color schemes and create your own
Adobe Color is an advanced tool for getting your hues just right, making it one of the best color palette generators for professionals. On your first visit to the site, we recommend heading to the Explore section, where you can browse different user-crafted color palettes at random, or according to parameters like popularity and recency.
When a particular color combo catches your eye, you can customize it to your project’s needs. To do so, add it to your library, then head to the My Libraries section, pick the color palette and click on ‘Edit this theme.’
Now, say hello to the Color Wheel - where the real fun happens. Here, you can tweak each color individually, or all at once, using its CMYK, RGB or other values, and control its brightness and darkness. You can set a ‘Base Color’ (marked by a white triangle at its bottom) and apply the color harmony rule to find new color schemes that match that particular shade. At any stage, you can check the accessibility of your color palette, to ensure that all visitors will be able to interact with your final result.
Another useful feature on Color CC is ‘Extract Theme.’ It generates a color palette from any photo or image that you upload. You can play around with the shades, then once you’ve reached color-perfection, there are many ways to incorporate the new palette into your project. You can copy the hex codes into your clipboard, download an ASE file or save it into your Adobe libraries if you’re logged in with your Adobe ID.
02. Khroma: Infinite color palettes tailored to your style
As a designer, your well-trained eye and personal style are perfectly on-point. Now, train a computer to share your exquisite taste level - and imagine what perfect color matching it could do for you! Product designer George Hastings rose to the task when creating Khroma, a website that figures out your color preferences using machine learning, and generates unique and personalized color combinations to match.
When first opening Khroma, you’ll be asked to pick out 50 color shades that you love. Singling out 50 favorites does take a bit of time, but clicking on pretty colors can hardly be considered a tedious task.
Once you’re done, the Khroma algorithm will generate color combos in five different displays: type on a colored background, color blocks, gradient, two-toned photographs and lastly, a palette made up of four colors. The combinations are laid out as an endless, Pinterest-like scroll that encourages discovery, or “digging for gold” as George describes on his UX portfolio.
Pair this tool with a basic understanding of color psychology to ensure spot-on designs that not only look the part, but that also evoke the intended emotions.
03. Coolors: Professional tools for color hunting
Coolors is a highly useful and professional tool for perfecting the color scheme of your choice. This convenient tool offers a speedy way of finding the right shades for your project, whether you’re choosing a color palette for your business or for a new illustration.
The website welcomes you with a randomly generated palette of five colors that fill your screen. Press the spacebar to explore more color schemes and watch as your screen transforms into a celebration of color. Once you hit a combination you like, hover over any of the colors to see the different menu options. You’ll be able to find similar shades of the same color, drag the colors elsewhere to rearrange your palette, adjust them by hue, saturation and brightness, or lock them.
Coolors also allows you to upload an image to the site, and extract a color scheme directly from there. You can create color gradients with its Gradient Maker, check out trending palettes on the Explore page, and more. Once you’re happy with your palette, you can export it as a URL, PNG and more, or copy the hex code to use in your design.
Another benefit is that Coolors is also available as an app. It lets you generate color palettes on-the-go, making it one of the most useful smartphone apps for designers.
04. Color Tool - Material Design: Test your UI color choices
Material Design is a design system developed by Google, implemented across their range of digital products to ensure a cohesive visual language throughout. Designers and developers alike can take inspiration from it and adopt certain elements to use in their own interfaces. It includes many useful resources such as a free icon pack and many free fonts.
Color Tool is just a small fraction of this staggeringly rich database of tools and information that Google’s Material Design provides. This simple and friendly tool is one of the most professional color palette generators, allowing you to test what your color palette might look like as part of a user interface design.
The Material Design color system adheres to only two colors, a primary and a secondary, together with their light and dark variants. This limited palette ensures harmony, and together with a strict approach to text legibility and accessibility, it still allows for enough color leeway to ensure that all UI elements are easily distinguishable.
These complex principles are much more approachable after a quick dive into the Color Tool. Once you select two colors - a primary color and a secondary one, the tool generates a few variants of each. The color scheme is then displayed in six UI wireframe examples, giving you a sense of how it would later come to life in your design.
Color Tool also runs a quick and convenient accessibility test for you. Crucial for making your website accessible, this test shows you whether your color choices will allow for legible text on your site.
05. ColorSpace: One color, countless options
If you have a color that you want to base your color palette around - whether it’s a brand color or just a shade that you really love - ColorSpace is the tool for you. Enter your hue of choice using its RGB values, hex code or by recreating it straight on the color wheel, and click ‘Generate.’
The website will instantly produce a generous amount of color combinations to match your color of choice. With anything from a gradient palette to a classy mix, you’ll discover many different paths you and your color could venture on.
06. Colorkuler: Let your Instagram account do the coloring
If you showcase your design work on Instagram, Colorkuler can be a fun experiment. Extracting a color palette from your most popular posts, it reveals your true colors and helps you maintain a consistent brand identity. It’s as easy as typing in your handle to see what color scheme comes up.
If you’re feeling indecisive, Colorkuler can be a useful tool for picking a color that reflects you and your personal brand. The only side note is that your account must be active and public for Colorkuler to be able to perform its magic.
07. Designspiration: See your palette in action
Love the color palette that you’ve chosen, but still in need of inspiration on how to use it right? Designspiration’s color search allows you to select up to five colors and then browse a variety of designs and diverse stock photos that share the same palette (and make it work).
You can get even more specific by searching for a certain kind of design content, such as infographics or hand lettering, or type in any other keyword relating to the content you’re interested in. Functioning as a color palette mood board, the feed will let you explore other designs and draw inspiration for your own creation.
Text Eden Spivak
Illustration Alice Mollon