Color palettes

I have a handy little tip for you today. Do you struggle with picking color palettes? Are you not really good with color choices? Have no idea what color matches another? Do you have no idea how to match hues, saturation, lightness or darkness? Well, I am here to help.

The secret is to find images that already have the colors put together. I am not talking about a commercially generated image or color chart. We all know that is not going to help anyone that is not an artist or trained in color theory. The secret is grab your camera, and go shoot some closeups of anything around you.

Let’s say I want to draw a woodland elf, or I want to create a costume that a woodland elf would wear. But I have no clue where to start with picking out the proper colors. So, go outside, find a leaf, and take a close up photo. The image will have all your color choices right there. Take a look.

elf costume

elf costume

Now you can take this image into photo shop and use the eyedropper to grab all the colors. They all perfectly match. They are all perfectly in the same light, shadow, hue, intensity, etc. There is a ready made color palette for you. You could even print this out, and take it to the fabric store for your costume fabric. I guarantee you if you made a elf hero’s costume from these colors, it would be awesome.

Let’s try another example. You need to design a creature for your adventure game, and want to draw it, or sculpt it and paint it. Let’s say it has four legs, lives  under rocks, and eats worms. Well, you have your drawing, or sculpt, but have no idea about what colors to paint it. Well, how about this.

new creature colors

new creature colors

Look at all those perfectly matched colors for you. Don’t look at the image, don’t look at the shape, look at the color palette. Perfect.

Quick, design me a color palette for a fancy riding coach for a medieval king that is on the way to deliver bad news.

King's carriage

King’s carriage

Done. A perfectly designed carriage palette.

One more. I want to hire you to design my space ship interior. It is already built, but we need colors. I need a perfectly coordinated set of colors for that perfect look. Here is a huge stack of cash. Go.

spaceship interior for client

spaceship interior for client

This is a closeup of a sewing machine. It has all the right colors. I put this image into photoshop and used the eyedropper to pull out a range of colors. Here is my perfect palette for my spaceship interior.



I guarantee you that if I sent you to the paint store alone without this image you would not have picked any of these colors. But, in the right combination, these colors will produce that image above, and will produce our spaceship interior.

The other genius thing about this is you can find color palettes anywhere. Just snap a closeup photo of anything. Especially nature. Nature has already put it together for you and matched all the lighting.

Quit struggling with color palettes.

Go ahead, make a mess, let nature choose your colors, have some fun.

One response to “Color palettes

  1. Alicia DR Hankins

    I love this! I’m so colorblind so this will really help me to put colors together. Thanks for a foolproof tool to color palettes!


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