My favorite mobile apps for designing color palettes


Last week I let you in on the secret that I struggle with color confidence. My inability to easily pick good color combinations may be why I love black and white ink illustration and silent movies.Don’t get me wrong, I love color too but it comes as more of a struggle. Fortunately, I have found some fun apps that help me confidently nail color palettes.

I wanted to share with you some techniques that I use with my favorite phone and tablet apps to help you find amazing color palettes. I will share my favorite Android color app and my favorite iOS color app. Yes, I have one for each system. That is because not all the same apps are available on both platforms. So on my phone I use one and on my iPad I use another.

For Android

My go to color app for my Android phone is Colorgrab. It is packed with great features. It mainly uses the camera to grab colors from the world and save them in a color palette but it also has a tool to build color swatches from scratch.

Grab Colors With the Camera

Like its name implies, the Colorgrab app uses the camera to measure colors so you can save them for later. All you have to do is open the app and tap the camera icon. You will see two brackets appear near the center of the screen. Inside those brackets there is a small circle that indicates where the measurement is taken from. Just point that circle at any color on anything and wait for the color to be analyzed. Then, save it to your swatches by tapping anywhere on the camera’s live-view.

It’s as easy as that: just point, measure, and tap. Use it wherever you find color. Look for good color combinations that other people have made by looking at photos, packaging, and signs. Or look to nature, which seems to have an amazing eye for color. Grab colors from landscapes, flowers, or the fruit stands at your local farmer’s market.

Other Techniques

Colorgrab can also import a picture you have already taken and map the colors in the picture. Then you can save your picks to your color palette. This app also allows you to create a color palette based on color theory concepts such as complementary, analogous, and monochrome. All you have to do is select a color theory rule and adjust a few sliders to create a solid color scheme. Colorgrab has many other useful features such as the ability to export your color swatches to a variety of formats.

For iOS

I tend to work differently with my iPad than I do with my phone and that’s where Color Viewfinder comes in handy. It works slightly different than Colorgrab because its main strength comes from generating color palettes from photos after you take them.

Make a Color Palette From Your Camera Roll

Open the Color Viewfinder app and choose to take a photo or import one from your camera roll. I tend to mostly use photos I have already taken. Once the picture has been taken or opened, you will see the image on the screen with a large number of swatches that have been extracted from the photo. Tap on the ones you want to use together and you will see them as color squares over the image.

You can change the size and layout of the swatches. You can choose from little squares or bars over the picture or my favorite where the color bar is next to the photo. Try different combinations until you find a good color palette. Because this app shows the photo and the color swatches together, it is easy to match the mood of a photo.

Matching up the colors to the DMC color numbers

Now that you have created an awesome color palette, it’s time to match it up to some thread colors. Here are a couple methods to do this.

You can simply head to the craft store with your phone or tablet in tow and compare the colors in the bins to the colors on your screen.

Alternatively, you can find a DMC thread color chart online HERE. Open up the browser window with the color chart and hold up your phone 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!

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