I have mostly been using Adobe Kuler, but generally I want more than just 5 colors that work well together. What tools do you use to ensure you have a consistent color palette?
Maintenance is the easy part, you just makes swatches and stick to those. Creation is the difficult part.
Personally, I usually start in one of two spots: a key color I want to work with, or nothing in mind at all.
No starting point If I'm starting off with nothing in mind, I try and define the branding a bit more by asking a few questions:
- who is the audience?
- what does the competitive landscape look like?
- what is the tone of the brand?
- am I trying to invoke a specific feeling?
Once I have a general idea on where I'm headed, I'll usually go out on a color safari. Design sites, Flickr, the outside world, I'll just browse around through any link I can find to gather anything inspirational.
I've found some great success in using photos as inspirational kick starters with sites that grab colors from specific photos: http://www.pictaculous.com
Key color Once I have a starting point—be that from research or I've started out with one in mind—I move on to the palette. You can easily extrapolate a workable color scheme by running through any of the traditional scheme types: monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split complementary, triadic, and tetradic.
From there, it's a mater of choosing your base scheme and then iterating. Getting a complete scheme and then manipulating the whole scheme is much easier than trying to tweak each color on its own. Try overlaying colors on top of the whole scheme to get variants that are unique from your original, but still consistent with each other.
Once I have a scheme, I'll do what Aaron S. does and work out my neutrals. I usually specify what my "white" is, what my mid-range grey is, and what I'll be using as my "black".
Thanks for taking the time to respond! Do you use any other tools, aside from pictaculous? Or do you simply mix your colors in photoshop or illustrator directly?
I used ColorSchemer for a while, but when the price jumped to $50, I stopped updating, and I haven't used it in years. Now I typically just mix right in AI while I'm developing the brand.
I start with 2 to 4 unique colors and extrapolate all other colors via Sass. To get to the initial color palette, I usually use the OSX version of ColorSchemer.
For UI, I pick a few basic colors, sometimes via Kuler or by ripping off Allan's colors. I then select a core neutral (doesn't necessarily have to be pure gray) that goes with those colors. Then I make a 12 grad color ramp from the gray to use throughout my UI.