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Kuler for Color

If you’ve ever taken an art class you should have some fundamental knowledge about primary and secondary colors and how they work together. But even if you haven’t, there are great tools available to assist you with choosing the right palette for your project. Allow me to walk you through one of my favorites.

Adobe Kuler

I love to start design projects with Adobe Kuler. It’s a great resource which will not only allow you to create your own color palettes but also browse through a library of color palettes that other people have created. You can use different color rules such as complementary or monochromatic to achieve a different tone and look.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.05.24 PMBefore jumping into playing with Kuler, however, I’d recommend doing research on current design trends and color psychology. Jill posted a great infographic on Color and the Art of Persuasion and Lyn posted another infographic on How Colors Affect Conversions that feature good insights into how customers respond to color cues. Doing this research first can help you narrow down one primary color to use for whatever you’ll be creating — whether it’s a whole brand identity or a standalone poster or website.

For our purposes I will start with orange. At this point, I know that I want orange but I’m not quite sure what shade. I do know that the tone should be modern and vibrant. I open Kuler and drag the sliders around until the middle color looks like what I had in mind.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.08.58 PMHaving defined my main color I now want to find a secondary, harmonious color. I play around with the different options in the Color Rule box and find that I like the Complementary color rule palette. Using teal alongside the orange will give me some great contrast and the different shades will allow me some room for variation.

In the full palettes I build I always make sure to choose light and dark supporting colors including white or a shade of it; black, dark grey or a dark shade of the main color; and a complementary color to be used for contrast. In Kuler it is not necessary to add your light and dark color into the palette, these can essentially be shades of black and white.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.15.23 PMUnderneath each color swatch on your screen are all the different values for RGB, CMYK, HEX, HSB and Lab. You can plug these values and into whichever software you’re using, or you can save your color palette as a swatch exchange file and load it in the program. Either way is fine, but if you think you’ll want to use the same color scheme again I would suggest downloading it and saving it on your computer.

And there you go. Kuler is a great resource that will make one big part of your design project a lot easier. Have fun and let me know what you make!

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