Color is important: We’re practically surrounded by it. Real-life objects are an obvious source of inspiration for color schemes, and it turns out that with an Android phone, it’s pretty easy to convert anything around you into a beautiful set of colors you can use on any design project. This is nice, because you can use specific objects to convey emotion: If you’re designing a theme for a blog that’s all about desserts, you could use a box of chocolates or a fancy cake as a very direct source of inspiration. Here are three apps to help you work with color on the go.
Color Harmonizer [No Longer Available]
The first app I’ll be looking at, Color Harmonizer, is the most traditional one, in that it doesn’t use your device’s camera. It’s just a way to create matching color schemes using any of numerous established harmonies:
You get a large color wheel in the center, and can set the number of swatches your scheme should have and the harmony you wish to use (if any). You can then tap on the color wheel and see the scheme update in real-time. On my Xperia Z, Color Harmonizer was not very responsive — in fact, it felt downright sluggish at times. Still, if you’re looking for a traditional way to create color schemes on the go, you should try it out: Its straightforward interface and rich selection of color harmonies make up for its unresponsiveness.
Clrpickr [No Longer Available]
With Clrpickr, we start getting a bit more innovative. Clrpickr lets you take a photo with your phone’s camera, or select an existing photo from your gallery, and then breaks it down into distinct swatches of color:
One of its Clrpickr’s downsides is that you can end up with a very large palette. Thankfully, each swatch has a checkbox which you can untick if you don’t want it to be included in your final palette. Then, once you’re happy with the color scheme you’ve produced, you can share it using Gmail:
Note the interesting formatting of the email: It actually includes each individual swatch as a colored rectangle, in addition to its Hex, RGB, and CMYK values. This particular feature only works with Gmail.
SwatchMatic [No Longer Available]
I’ve saved the best for last. We’ve touched upon SwatchMatic in the past, and it is still an excellent way to produce color schemes based on photos. It’s an augmented reality app: Just point your camera at something, and the display updates in real-time with a six-color scheme based around whatever’s in the crosshairs.
You can opt to tone the colors down (or “pastelify” them, as SwatchMatic calls it), make them louder, or keep them as they are. You may also tweak the type of color harmony SwatchMatic uses to come up with the scheme:
And as you may expect, SwatchMatic lets you look at your palettes on their own, without having to look at whatever the camera is pointed at:
Note the interesting names SwatchMatic assigns for each hue: Dark Oak, Stiletto, Tawny Port — all quite dramatic, really. These come from Resene Paints, and lend a more professional air to each color scheme.
Finally, when the time comes to share your color scheme, SwatchMatic can export it as a fun JPG image:
Note that the free version of SwatchMatic can only export ten such images – if you want to produce more of those, you’d have to purchase the pro version, currently retailing for $3.
How Do You Create Color Swatches?
Being able to use the world around us so directly makes it easier to create beautiful, natural-looking color schemes. And yet, I know some designers like to work from scratch, or use ready-made schemes from resources like Kuler, which we’ve reviewed or other Web-based scheme generators.
Even if you’re not a “proper” designer, you must’ve had to come up with a bunch of matching colors at one time or another. What did you use at the time? Do you think you’ll be giving one of these mobile apps a shot? Let me know in the comments.