My favorite web app for designing color palettes


I have a secret to reveal: I flunked my color theory classes in art school. It didn’t matter much at the time because I preferred to work in black and white but I still struggle with color confidence when I create a new embroidery design. Thankfully, there's an awesome web app that helps me with that.

I know many stitchers like to change colors on patterns they sew (including mine) so I thought you might like to know about this fun color app. There are two techniques you can use in the app to help you rock color combinations for your embroidery projects. Which one you decide to use depends on how you like to work. No matter which technique you choose, you'll end up with an awesome color palette.

A Simple Web App

I am often working at my studio computer so that is where a lot of my design process happens. When I'm in my studio, I like to use the Coolors web app. It's free and all you have to do is set up an account to get started. It will help you quickly build a color palette from scratch or help you pull your favorite colors from a photo into a color palette. To help get you started, I'll walk you through two techniques I use to pick my colors.

From Scratch

No color theory involved here. Just hit the space bar to generate a random color scheme. When you see a color or color combination you like, lock it by clicking the lock icon on the swatch. Then hit the space bar again to replace the other color swatches. It is a bit like a color palette slot machine but you are much more likely to come away with a win.

This app gets even better because you can fine tune your color swatches individually. Simply click on the slider icon on the swatch. From there you can adjust the Hue, Saturation, and Brightness of the color by moving the sliders around. This is a very intuitive way to get colors to look great.

You can also adjust all or some of the colors in your palette at the same time. Click on the Adjust Palette button in the toolbar and a menu will appear that will allow you to fine tune the Hue, Saturation, Brightness, and Temperature. All unlocked color swatches change, which means you can adjust a few swatches or the whole color palette at once.

With a Photo

Coolors also allows you to pick colors from a photo to build a color palette. I think of this as the ‘if it grows together, it goes together’ strategy. To pick color from a photo, click on the Camera icon in the toolbar. Then upload a picture from your computer or paste in the address of a photo on the web. Next, click to place a marker on any color you like. This will add it to the first swatch. Then click to the right of that swatch before clicking on the next color you want to grab from the photo. Continue until you have all the colors you want. Then click the OK button. Remember that you can fine-tune the swatches later like you did with the From Scratch method.

Matching up the colors to the DMC color numbers

Now that you have made an awesome color palette, it’s time to match it up to some thread colors. There are a few way to do this.

You can export a PNG file, a type of picture, and send it to your phone. Then head to the craft store and compare the colors in the bins to the colors on your phone.

Alternatively, you can find a DMC thread color chart online HERE. Open up the browser window with the color chart next to the window with your color palette to compare colors and write down the corresponding thread color number. Then it's off to the craft store or an online shop like 123 Stitch for some shopping!

Want a color app specifically for your phone? I'll share my favorites next Wednesday.

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