Color Resources for Designers

Pantone Color BookOur world is a colorful place. We are able to see millions of colors. Color metaphors such as “seeing red” or “paint the town red” abound in many languages. We all have favorite colors and colors we look good in. It’s no wonder color plays a huge role in design and marketing. If you Google color psychology you’ll get over 5 million results. Lucy Neuberger, Brand Designer at The BLU Group, wrote an article about The Impact of Color – In Graphic Design…and Life which does an excellent job of summarizing the meanings of colors. Searching for color theory returns a similar amount of information. Large corporations go to great lengths to research color so they make good branding decisions regarding their products. And good designers in agencies large and small, have an understanding of color psychology and theory and use it in their design. But even with a solid base of color knowledge, it can sometimes be a challenge to come up with a color palette for a new logo or brand refresh from the millions of colors available. To meet this challenge I turn to my favorite go-to color resources.

3 Great Color Resources

  1. The color resource I use most often is Adobe Kuler ( This online color resource is an amazing place. It’s a valuable resource for choosing colors because there are so many ways to interact with the site. It utilizes color theory and color trends, and it gives you opportunity to choose photos from your computer or flickr to create your color palettes. You can peruse color combinations created by the members of the site and use one of them as it stands, or use it as a starting point for your own color creation. Once you have created your color palette, you have the option of saving it and downloading the .ase swatch file to use in your design software. The site is intuitive and provides an amazing amount of color information in a well organized fashion. I highly recommend trying this site when picking colors for your next project.
  2. The second resource I use for color picks is the myPantone app for iPad. This app has all the Pantone swatch books available in one convenient location. Now, while not accurate for final color picks, I find this very useful to quickly grab swatches to save in groupings which I can then find in my swatch books later to make my final PMS picks. There is also an interesting feature that allows you to take a photo of something with your tablet or phone and then once cropped to your liking; it automatically picks a five color pms palette based on your photo. Very handy when you are out and about and find an interesting color combination you want to capture and save for later.
  3. The third color resource I use is a good color book. There are a lot of color books out there, but my favorite is Pantone Guide to Communicating Color by Leatrice Eiseman. This book is an authoritative guide on color combinations and principles. It gives great color background information and hundreds of color combination examples to use as a starting point for choosing color for your design project.

The next time a color combination has you stumped, turn to one of the above color resources. Better yet, start there first and design with your color palette in mind. Are there other color resources I’m missing? If so, let me know about it and why you use it.