Colour palettes: what they are and how to create them online

Colour palettes: what they are and how to create them online

Editorial team Published on 5/8/2023

The best sites for creating colour palettes to use in graphic design

We may not often realise it, but colours have a huge impact on our lives. Different shades have the power to affect our mood, communicate emotions and convey thoughts.

And this can be seen in everyday life. An apartment decorated in bright colours will put us in a more active state of mind, while brands used a precise colour palette to stand out from the rest and make themselves memorable to their customers. Think of Coca-Cola red, for example.

When it comes to graphic design, then, the choice of colours is crucial, as is their relationship with one another. To guide them in the use of colour, professional designers use an essential tool: the colour palette.

But what exactly is a colour palette? That’s what we’re going to explain today, before pointing you towards some of the best sites for creating a colour palette online.

What is a colour palette?

In the physical world, the term “palette” originally referred to the board on which an artist mixespaints. So, in the digital world, a colour palette is set number of colours which – combined together – will be used in a graphic design project.

There is no set number of colours in a palette and this will depend on the purpose for which a palette is created. In online archives, you often see pallets of four colours or sometimes just three. However, when building a website these days, you may need to broaden the range of colours up to ten or so.

What are colour palettes for?

 Nome immagine: palette_colori_a_cosa_serve.jpg
Title=”What are colour palettes for?”
Alt= “A colour palette used for home decoration”

When used correctly, a colour palette is a key element in graphic design. Here are some examples.

What are colour palettes for?
A colour palette used for home decoration
  • Colour palettes are used by web and UX designers to determine which colours to use on a web page.
  • A colour palette is an integral part of a firm’s visual identity: it helps to ensure that the company’s colours are used consistently over time and that the brand is always recognisable to consumers.
  • In very large companies, a palette provides guidelines that maintains consistency between communications and products released by different offices and departments.
  • A palette  helps to work out which combinations of colours are most aesthetically pleasing, which is why they are often used to choose the right shades in home decoration.

How to choose a colour palette

Picking a colour palette involves various scientific and aesthetic considerations. Colour theory is based on the colour wheel invented in 1666 by the father of modern physics: Isaac Newton.

The theory behind the palette: the colour wheel
The colour wheel. Immagine: Wikimedia Commons

The colour wheel – also known as the colour circle – shows the relationship between colours and helps to identify colour harmonies, in other words, colours that go well together. Another important aspect is colour temperature: warm colours – like red, yellow or violet – evoke different feelings compared to cool colours, like blue or green.

Saturation indicates the intensity or purity of a colour, while brightness is a measure of how light or dark it is. By mixing colours with white, black or grey, we can create shades, hues and tones.

By playing with these different aspects within the colour circle, we can create all sorts of colour palettes. Fortunately, there are also online platforms out there that help us to create colour palettes simply and easily. Let’s check out a few!

How to create a colour palette online: the best sites

Creating a colour palette online: Color Hunt
Screenshot from Color Hunt, the site for creating colour palettes online

Color Hunt

Color Hunt is a really useful free site for finding inspiration. Rather than letting you create colour palettes from scratch, it helps you to find the right palette by searching an archive of thousands of four-colour palettes.

You can search by tag, or simply explore new palettes or the most popular. There are all sorts of tags: seasons, states of mind or even festivities and celebrations like Christmas, Halloween or weddings. Retro, coffee and space were three tags that we found particularly intriguing.

If you’re feeling lucky, you can even pick out a random palette.

Canva Colors

Canva is an online graphic design tool that’s free, highly intuitive and also offers a colour palette generator. In Canva Colors, you can create a palette from scratch, extrapolate one from a photo or use one of many ready-made palettes.

If you don’t mind a bit of studying, the platform also has a section with easy-to-use educational materials on colour theory and how to create a palette.

But the perhaps most fascinating is a comprehensive guide to the meaning and symbolism associated with different colours. A must read!

Adobe Color

If you’re a true professional, then this is the site for you. Adobe Colors is Adobe’s official tool for creating colour palettes. You can apply different colour harmony rules in choosing a palette (for example, monochromatic, square or triad) or create a custom rule.

Also of note is the accessibility section, where you can check your palette to make sure it is accessible to as many people as possible by, for example, seeing if it is suitable for people who are colour blind.

Creating a colour palette online: Coolors
Screenshot from Coolors, a site for creating colour palettes online


Coolors is a colour palette generator that’s very fast and very comprehensive. Simply hit the space bar to add different colours to your palette. Adjust saturation, hue, brightness and temperature using the handy sliders.

Cool feature: there’s also a collage section where you can upload a photo and match it to a colour palette – perfect for early discussions in design projects.

Material Palette

If you’re looking for a colour palette for your website, but don’t need professional tools, then we recommend checking out Material Palette. It works like this: pick just two colours and the system will suggest a palette of eight colours that are suitable for your website, including a preview. The only downside to this site is that it has tons of ads.


Give this palette generator a go if you want to play with colours in an extremely quick and intuitive way  – and even on a smartphone. Colordot lets you rate, explore and choose different colours by simply moving the mouse in four directions and clicking when you come across a colour that you like. Check it out – it only takes a minute!

Screenshot from Colordot, a site for creating colour palettes online
Screenshot from Colordot, a site for creating colour palettes online

Are you ready to pick the colour palette for your next project?