Color schemes are like works of art. It can be hard to describe what makes one great, but you always know it when you see it. Graphic designers and visual media developers know that even the tiniest adjustments can take a color scheme from OK to wow. The best ones strike the right balance between inspiration and experimentation. They recall the natural beauty of the physical world, but they also have a little something extra.
Finding the perfect color scheme means two things: keeping your radar up at all times and having the right tools for capturing a moment of inspiration no matter where it happens. Here are four essential color scheme tools that every designer needs in his or her arsenal:
1. Pantone Capsure
The Pantone Capsure is a professional color-capturing device that instantly matches the color on any surface. Hold its sensor up to a wall, T-shirt, car or flower and the Capsure searches its pre-installed database of 10,000 colors for a match. The handheld device is both portable and powerful and stores up to a 100 color captures. If you’re a graphic designer, interior designer or building contractor, this tool is a necessity to capture specific colors for picky clients. Once you capture a color, sync the device with Patone’s Color Manager software to extract your capture colors for use in your next project.
2. Adobe Color Capture CC
Color Capture CC lets you easily capture color combinations from your Android or iOS smartphone. It syncs with your photo library, so you can create and share color themes on the fly. It even has a preset color mode that uses color theory to locate compatible hues in any image. Your hues even sync instantly with Adobe’s Creative Cloud, so your schemes will be waiting for you when you sit down at your desktop to edit with Photoshop. The app makes especially good use of the iPhone 5s’ True Tone flash, which captures color naturally and accurately to match the way you see it in real life. You also can share your new color palettes on Facebook or Pinterest for instant feedback.
Some people are just naturals at creating color schemes. As if by magic, they conjure an array of complementary colors that easily translate to their next project. The rest of us, however, need a little inspiration before we can get started. This is where TinEye comes in. It’s a customizable image search platform that uses special recognition technology to identify and catalog certain image features. Its Multicolor Engine lets you search a database of millions of images by color hue. It’s the perfect feature if you’re looking for complementary colors to match a specific hue. If you’re a web developer who needs specifically colored images to match a pre-existing template, TinEye is invaluable. The service even provides usage data on each image, so you can easily track how and when people are viewing your images.
Designspiration is all about discovering and sharing great design ideas. The app lets you save architectural, artistic and typographic images and tag them so others can use them for their projects. The app automatically analyzes the color scheme in your saved images, so you can easily search for up to five colors at a time. It’s like having a personal secretary for your inspiration, and it’s totally free.