Color Theory for Anyone, plus 50 Free Tools to Create Perfect Color Combinations

Anybody can benefit from this series on color theory and the tools to use them.

Smashing Magazine has been running a three part series on color. It's called Color Theory for Designers, but really, it's good for anyone with an interest in what color is, how it works, and how to use it creatively. Aside from using web pages (other than the more traditional charts and photos) to illustrate explanations, the series is all solid color theory explained in a way most anyone can understand. I've been waiting (not so patiently) for the third part of the series to come out so I could share it.

square block with layers of color

Smashing Apps "Tools To Create Perfect Color Combination's" is a good site to find a tool that works best for you. There are several types of tools so you have plenty of choices. A few links have issues; the Daily Color Scheme doesn't have any entries newer than 2006, though the older ones are usable. The Color Wheel Color Calculator goes to a design college site, where you have to hunt around for the calculator and endure pop-up windows inviting you to join the college. A better link is here.

If you want to keep up with the latest color trends, COLOURlovers is a great resource chock full of information, trends, palettes, patterns, blogs, and articles.

: A link to We are Colorblind added to article Feb. 27, 2010

Have fun!

Click here for more items like this. Better still, get Rhiannon's latest tasty tech treats delivered daily via your RSS feeder or alternatively, have the RSS feed sent as email direct to your in-box.

Share this
Average: 4.6 (8 votes)
Your rating: None


by Anonymous on 10. February 2010 - 9:12  (43246)

It good for everyone, except us poor color-blind people!

by Anonymous on 10. February 2010 - 9:53  (43248)

Thanks, Its exactly what I was looking for. Green and Red aren't my friend... so now I guess webdesign will be easier. loi scellier

by rhiannon on 10. February 2010 - 17:06  (43288)

That's true.
One of the things good design encompasses is making things that work for everyone, including people who are color blind and people that have other visual troubles. Good web design in particular needs to accommodate that, and more.

by rhiannon on 10. February 2010 - 17:09  (43289)

Some of the tools make working with color easier - one of them (sorry I don't remember which one) has a section on what colors don't work well for people who don't see well or who have trouble seeing certain colors.

by Anonymous on 24. February 2010 - 20:58  (44414)

If you do any kind of color work - ANY KIND! - bookmark these pages! This is an excellent color tutorial for everyone - even those of us who have been in the business for many years.

Also, the list of color-helping apps is great...

Very nice find, rhiannon!!!!

by rhiannon on 24. February 2010 - 22:22  (44422)

Thanks, I'm happy you like it.

by Anonymous on 26. February 2010 - 21:49  (44572)

If you remember the name of this tool, this will be helpful for... 10% of man population :) orchidée entretien

by rhiannon on 26. February 2010 - 23:09  (44577)

This site is what I was looking for - it has been offline until a few days ago.
Patterns for the Color Blind

by Anonymous on 6. April 2010 - 10:57  (47077)

Not sure this will help me, or if anything would. I'm colour-blind. If you ever see anything that would help, please get it posted on Gizmo.


by Anonymous on 6. April 2010 - 10:59  (47078)

I've just noticed, there is a link for colour-blind people. Brilliant!

Thanks, Ron

by rhiannon on 6. April 2010 - 18:17  (47100)

It's a good site, I hope you find it useful. :)

by Anonymous on 6. April 2010 - 22:11  (47129)

anyone read jasper fforde's "Shades of Grey"?

by Anonymous on 7. April 2010 - 2:45  (47141)

To be honest, I have become very disgruntled with all color selection programs. The reason they don't work is that there is no standard that works. Munsell color charts come the closest I have found but there are very few programs that use them. I got interested in the HSV standard because it seemed to identify the true components of color; hue, saturation and value. Then I found that it doesn't work. I have found that changing the the HSV saturation also changes the value. If you try to use the standard practically with any program, you simply can't change saturation or value without the change affecting the other. I think this is a serious problem. I did some internet searches and found that Munsell color charts are based on actual human percetion of color. Unfortunately, I only found a single freeware program that uses Munsell that is available here.

There is also a conversion table here that can be used to convert RGB to the Munsell scale.

I'd love to have a program where I can actually change value or saturation without one change affecting the other but as far as I can tell, the program does not exist anywhere. If it did, it would have to use the Munsell scale.


Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting!

Gizmos Needs YouShare your knowledge of free software with millions of Gizmo's readers by joining our editing team.  Details here.