January 30, 2016

How to create and use your colour palette

Okay so you may have noticed I’ve been getting into colour palettes lately… 
well I like other peoples colour palettes, but sometimes you love an image, a colour combination and just want to make your own! 

I find these images so inspiring – so inspiring I also want to use the colours together in some way…

I also find that a colour palette is what kicks me off on a new creative project – I think, I’ve got to use those colours, but how… and before I know it I’m visualising the colours in watercolour or embroidery…

Or it might be that you know your medium, but that’s it. Well maybe your colour palette will prompt a certain subject matter. It could be a palette of soft pinks that would be great for a floral design, or a bright, bold palette that would be better in a graphic slogan.

Get creative!

How to create your colour palette

Take the image you love and use a colour picker to pull colours our of your image. Haven’t found an image yet? Instagram and Pinterest are a great place to start.

To pull out the key colours (and they hex code) I use a great little app called the ColorPicker Eyedropper, that sits in Chrome. You literally hover over any image on a web page image and select the colours you want with the eyedropper.  

Make sure you pick out the key colours from any image. Sometimes it’s the small areas of strong contrasting colours that really make an image pop, for example, the dark greeny-black in the licorice image. So make sure you include those little contrasts in your colour palette!

Try to limit yourself to 5 or 6 colours. Any more and it’s going to become a muddle!

Of course there are myriad places you can find colour palettes ready and waiting. Check our the inspiration page for some new ideas, or check over at Design Seeds which is constantly updated with new images to get your creative juices flowing…

How to use your colour palette

Well, any time you’re using colour of course… here are just a few ideas to get you started…

  • a colour theme for graphics or your website
  • colour accents in your home – pick out one of the more neutral tones for your walls, and use your highlight colours for soft furnishings, and strong contrasting colours in smaller details, like throw cushions, candles or decorative objects.
  • your next watercolour or colouring art work
  • your knitting, crochet, embroidery or sewing project
  • the options are endless…!

With each of my palettes I’m also working out the closest match on the DMC thread colour chart, in case you’re an embroidering type too….

And that’s exactly how I’ve been using my colour palettes. Here’s something I’ve been working on using the colour palette “Licorice Allsorts” (photo below left courtesy of Caitlin Shearer).

Keep in mind the balance of colours that drew you to an image in the first place. It’s best to keep that same balance in your creative project. As mentioned above, it’s important to pull out those little contrast colours that really make your image pop. But don’t go making that the key colour for your project, or the colour balance will be all out of whack.
For example, in the above Licorice Allsorts image, you can see there is only a limited amount of the dark greeny/black licorice colour, so that is also the colour I’ve used the least of in the embroidery above.
Do you have a favourite colour palette? How do you use it?

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