One of the biggest struggles I usually have when I am about to make a card or a scrapbook page is deciding what colors I want to use. Sometimes, I am lucky enough to have an idea in mind and a place to start. Other times, I begin with a completely blank canvas. That can be a little daunting.
When creating a scrapbook page, usually there is a picture (or several) involved, and using the right color scheme can really make or break your page. I have found a couple online tools that can come in handy when determining a color scheme, and I thought I would share them here.
The first one is Chip It! by Sherwin Williams. (You can find it here.) Obviously, Sherwin Williams is a paint company, and the intention of this tool is to provide you with a selection of paint colors that match your inspiration piece. It can match things you find online (which is great when working on interior decorating) but it can also use an uploaded photo as a source.
Let's take a look at how it works. You can use it without creating an account (which is free) but if you want to be able to save your ChipCards for future reference, you will need to log in.
In order to use a photo, click on the 'Upload an Image' button at the bottom of the screen. You'll need to browse for your photo, select it, and then click upload.
The site will then generate your own personal ChipCard.
As you can see by the example, it's going to pick from the main colors of your image, and provide you with the closest matches to Sherwin Williams paint colors (along with their names). You can also click on the 'Edit Colors' button, and swap out some with other recommended colors, if you want.
Cool, right? Now, with a photo like this, I probably could have come up with the whole red, white & blue thing on my own, so maybe I didn't pick the best example. You get the point, though. One of the things I don't like as much about this one is that its very 'matchy matchy' with the photo...and sometimes you can highlight a photo better by using other color schemes (like complementary colors, for example).
There's another site that I have used for quite a few years now, that actually gives you much more flexibility to customize your color scheme. And that is through Adobe, and the site is called Adobe Kuler. (You can find it here.)
Again, to really take advantage of the ability to save your work, you'll want to register to get an Adobe ID, so you can log in. (It's also free.)
This is what the homepage looks like. You can either create color schemes from scratch, use an image (an uploaded photo), or choose a color scheme created by someone else.
Let's start by uploading a photo we want to use, so that Kuler will generate a color scheme for us. All you need to do is click the little camera icon in the upper right. You'll be prompted to browse for, and select your photo to upload. Kuler will then generate your color palette.
Again, you'll see that the default color scheme is one that matches your photo. What I like about this site is that it shows you exactly which points of the picture it is pulling the color sample from. (And the other benefit is that the color choices are limitless, and not bound to a set of available paint colors.) You can actually manipulate those color picks - we'll look at that shortly.
First, you can try adjusting the Color Mood by hitting that little down arrow to see the other options. Each will offer you a variation on the original one.
For example, here is the 'Deep' color mood. You can see it's similar, but different.
So, back to playing with those color selection dots. You can move them to other places in the photo to change the swatches below. This will change your color swatches. The first example below is the original that Kuler generated. In the second example, I moved the yellow (since it was a minor background detail that I wouldn't have wanted to call attention to) and instead moved it to the darker blue of Cait's shirt. You'll see that the Color Mood has changed to 'Custom'.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the great things about Kuler is that it gives you the ability to customize your color scheme. We'll do that using that adjusted Custom color mood we just created above. All you need to do is click on the little color wheel icon in the upper right.
This will open up the color wheel, with those colors chosen. The center color becomes your base color (as denoted) by the little white triangle on the swatch and on the dot on the color wheel.
If you are ok with that base color, then great. You can actually change it though, by either dragging the dot on the color wheel to somewhere else, or if you want to swap colors already in the swatch, just jot down the R-G-B numbers, and key them into the appropriate places. In the example below, I swapped the medium blue with the red, making red the new base color.
Now, I have the option of manipulating the color rule by selecting one of the options on the upper left. For example, I can switch to a triad color scheme, as seen below. By using complementary colors, it can help your base color be more of a focal point on your scrapbook page. (You can see that the triad color scheme takes a base color, and two colors an equal distance in each direction from the base color's complement.)
You can also adjust the tones (the saturation) of those colors by moving the dots on the color wheel closer to the center. Be careful to stay right on the same 'line' though, so that you don't inadvertently change the overall color.
You can see that the new color scheme is much more muted.
I'm sure there is much more you can do...but that is as far as I have gotten!
Let's look at some of the other options I mentioned.
You can create a color scheme from scratch in a very similar way to how we just manipulated our generated color scheme.. Start by clicking on the 'Create' button on the menu bar at the top. (Be sure to save anything you're working on first, if you want to! :) )
You end up back on the default color wheel screen.
Then, all you do to start your color scheme is to pick a color you want to use as your base color. The easiest way to do that is by moving the circle picker on the color wheel itself. In the example below, you can see that I changed my base color to a yellow.
The default color scheme generated is Analogous (which chooses colors right next to your base color on the color wheel). You can explore the other options by clicking on each option. The example below is the Triad for this particular base color.
Pretty cool, right? I KNOW! This is a great option for scrapbook pages with black and white photos, or for making a card - times when the only limit is your imagination. Love, love this option.
If you've created an Adobe ID, you can save all your color schemes. Here's a few of the ones that I've created over the years. (And in looking at them, I know exactly what scrapbook pages I used them on. ;) )
One last cool thing is that there are a lot of people using Kuler, and they create & share their color schemes. You can browse them for inspiration as well. Click on the Explore button on the menu bar. I've opted to see the most popular.
You can click on a color scheme to open it, and then (if you're logged in), mark it as a favorite so you can refer to it later. (You could also just hover over it on the screen above, and you'll see a heart button that does the same thing.)
If you REALLY want to get fancy, you can modify it. You can either hover over it (in the Explore view above) to see an 'Edit' button - or open it to see the Edit option. If you click it in either view, it will open up that color scheme in the color wheel. You can modify it just like you modify your generated color scheme. Very cool.
Last tip: you can find all your themes under the 'My Themes' link on the menu bar. They'll be divided up by the themes you have created ('All Themes') and the ones you have saved as favorites ('My Favorites').
So, hopefully that gives you a few fun tools to play with, and plenty of color inspiration!