7 Ways to Create Color Schemes for Web Design

Vandelay Design may receive compensation from companies, products, and services covered on our site. For more details, please refer to our Disclosure page.
Designer creating color schemes
Illustration via Vecteezy

Color selection can be one of the most challenging aspects of the web design process. A site’s color scheme will have a significant impact on the overall look of the site, and it will also impact visitors.

There are several different ways to find a suitable color scheme for a particular project, and in this article, we will look at seven specific methods you can use. Throughout the article, you’ll find links to helpful resources that can make your work easier.

1. Online Color Palette Generators

There are several websites and online tools available for creating color palettes, and they each work in a unique way. Some generate random color palettes. Others use technology or artificial intelligence to suggest color combinations.

Using an online color palette generator, you can try out many different ideas in a short amount of time. You’re not likely to find the perfect color scheme immediately, but with some experimenting, you’ll find results you love.

Here are 3 specific tools that can be extremely useful for generating color palettes.

Coolors

Coolors

Coolors is my favorite resource for quickly trying out a lot of different color schemes. It will automatically generate a new color scheme each time you hit the spacebar.

When you see a color you like, you can lock it. If you hit the spacebar again, it will keep the locked colors and replace the others to create a pleasing scheme around the locked colors. You can lock multiple colors, and it will replace whichever ones are not locked.

Because it works so quickly, you can find and try many different color schemes in almost no time. You can also save the color palettes so you can find them later.

Paletton

Paletton

Paletton helps you to create different types of color schemes. You can choose between monochromatic, adjacent, triadic, tetradic, or freestyle.

Once you’ve selected the type of color scheme you want, you can adjust one of the colors on the color wheel, and Paletton will automatically adjust the other colors.

Thanks to Paletton, you don’t need to be an expert with color theory to create a pleasing color scheme. You can export the color palettes you create, but there’s no way to save them to an account or user profile.

ColorSpace

ColorSpace

If you’re designing for an existing brand or business, chances are, they already have a primary color. Or, if you’re creating a color scheme from scratch, you may already know the color you want to emphasize in the design.

ColorSpace allows you to select the primary color, and it will automatically generate a full palette that compliments that color. Actually, it generates many different palettes around the primary color, and you can choose the one you like the best.

You can quickly view many different color schemes thanks to ColorSpace. It’s easy to use and effective for finding the right colors to go with your primary color.

2. Browsing Color Palettes Online

Aside from generating your own color palettes, you can also browse palettes created by others. You may not want to use the exact color palette you come across, but you can make minor adjustments so it’s original.

Some color palette generators, including Coolors, allow you to browse pre-made color palettes. If you’re not feeling especially creative and want to see what others have come up with, this could be an ideal option.

BrandColors

BrandColors is a helpful resource for color inspiration. You can browse the color schemes of many brands and see the exact colors they’re using. Of course, you don’t want to copy the color schemes of other brands, especially not those that are in your industry. However, you can certainly find inspiration. Use these color schemes for ideas or adjust the colors to create something original.

3. Based on the Psychology of Colors

One of the factors to consider when choosing a color scheme is the psychology of color. There’s been a great deal of research over the years to indicate meanings and messages associated with various colors.

For example, blue is often associated with trust, so it’s a common choice for banks, insurance companies, and other businesses in finance.

I can’t cover the topic in detail here, but we have an excellent article on the psychology of colors that’s worth reading.

If you know the primary feeling or emotion you want to generate, consider using the color meanings as a starting point for your palette.

In many cases, color meanings will vary from one culture to the next, so be sure you’re paying attention to relevant information to your audience or your client’s audience.

4. Taking Colors from Magazines and Other Printed Materials

Woman Reading a Magazine
Photo via Envato Elements

Online resources aren’t the only place to find color schemes. Magazines, books, flyers, posters, brochures, cards, and other printed material can be another source of inspiration.

You can either find a scheme you like and try to come close just by eyeballing it, or you can photograph it and take the colors directly from the photo in Photoshop or another program.

This method may help you to find full color schemes, or you may find just one or two colors and then build out the rest of the palette.

5. Taking Colors from Photographs

Photographs are a great source of color inspiration. You can easily and quickly browse through photos of your own or random photos from sites like Flickr and DeviantArt.

When you find a photo that includes a beautiful color scheme, you can upload it to one of several different online tools to help you determine the specific colors in the photo. Once you have the hex values, you can use the colors in your designs.

Coolors includes this functionality, or you can use a separate tool like What’s Its Color.

Get Colors from a Photo

6. Browsing Web Design Galleries

One of the best ways to find color schemes that work well for the web is to browse through design galleries. As you do, you’ll come across some color schemes that you like, which may give you some ideas for your work.

Of course, what’s suitable for one site may not work well for another. It’s a good idea to keep your particular project in mind to find some colors that will work well for your situation.

You can search around and take one color from a few different websites. Or, you can find a scheme that you like and work with Photoshop to find a similar color scheme to avoid copying the colors of the other site.

One of the downsides to this approach is that you can wind up doing more copying than you intend, so be careful to make your scheme unique even if other sites inspire it.

Some of my favorite web design galleries include Awwwards, SiteInspire, and Webdesign Inspiration.

7. Nature

Color is everywhere in nature. Step outside, look around, and you are bound to find some inspiring color schemes.

Plants, animals, sunsets… color schemes can be found in just about anything in nature. Of course, getting the exact colors and shades isn’t as simple as working with a photograph (although you can always take a picture) or an inspirational website. But you can still get many ideas simply from observing nature and the colors that appear.

Final Thoughts on Ways to Generate Color Schemes

Creating color schemes is an essential part of the design process, so be sure to give it the attention it deserves. Try using the methods this article covers and see which works best for you.