• COLOURLovers: 300,000-plus designers and color-minded folks share color palettes on this site constantly, so there’s always fresh inspiration at the ready. Bookmark the site or download their free Adobe AIR application, COLOURLovers Desktop Color Finder. And while you’re it at it, COLOURLovers Blog reports on color trends and quirky color finds, with related palettes for each post.
• ColorCombos: Not only humming with color palettes generated by its reader, you’ll also dig the Combo Tester, a free online tool enabling web developers to see how different color combinations work together on the screen.
• Genopal: Save, download or share color palettes, including widgets to tweak them into a more harmonious balance relative to each other.
• Adobe Kuler: create, save and fine-tune your color palette using Adobe Kuler’s online tool. Nice extra: in addition to creating free-form palettes, you can also nudge them to conform to specific rules – like complementary colors, monochromatic or triads straddling the color wheel. Then share and browse palettes with thousands of other designers. Try Kuler’s Adobe Air application, too.
• Veerle’s Daily Color Scheme: get fresh color schemes daily via the site, email or customized browser toolbar.
• Color Inspirator: another nice random-palette generator, beautifully simple. Click “Mix” to generate palettes, click “Share” when you find one you like.
• Color Scheme Designer: This pay-what-you-wish app lets you create color schemes, apply rules, randomize when you’re plump out of new ideas, export in many different formats, even check for different kinds of color-blindness.
• Color Schemer Studio: a complete suite of tools for color scheme generation, matching, harmonizing, and identifying any pixel’s precise color in numerous formats.
• ColorJack: intuitive tool packing a lot of functionality into a single screen. Plenty of export options, too.
• ColorExplorer: This soup-to-nuts color palette tool allows you to create, manage, and explore color palettes for web designs, desktop publishing, or any other graphic design project.
• Copaso: a more robust color-palette tool for advanced users.
• Unsafe Color Match: as the name implies, this tool helps you steer clear of color combos that are difficult to read on-screen or otherwise violate best-practices of color design for the web.
• Also worth a mention: Contrast A, SlayerOffice Color Palette, ColorToy 2.0 (the only Flash tool on this list), the ultra-simple Infohound, Visibone (similarly easy, plus available in a dozen languages) and SitePro Central Color Scheme Chooser.
• ColorBlender: enter a color, get an auto-created blend online tool for color matching and palette design with export options
• Color Wizard: a similar concept to Color Blender, this tool works on the single-color-in, palette-out basis.
• Colordb: a little hard on the eyes, but highly functional like the color-robot it is. Enter a single color, get all relevant shades, complementaries, stats, et cetera in a single output screen.
• ColorMatch Redux: working on a 3-slider principle for its interface, you select your starting color to jump-start a palette automatically.
Extract a color palette from a URL or image
• Pic2color by Genopal lets you enter a URL of an image, or the image itself, to generate a color palette matching that image. Available as a widget for your site, too.
• ColorHunter: enter a tag, hex code or image URL to search for color palettes matching your criteria
• I Like Your Colors: Enter any URL whose colors you like to find out its exact palette
Simulate (and correct) your designs for color-deficient vision
One out of 15 people are color-blind to some degree. These tools simulate how your site appears to people with impaired color vision.
Sharpen your color theory skills
• Poynter.org’s Colors, Contrast & Dimension in News Design: an interactive online course outlining the core concepts of color theory with exercises and examples
• Color Theory by Liquisoft: here’s your one-page cheatsheet on color theory concepts. Surprisingly easy and restful on the eyes, too.
• Color Theory Timeline: as ugly as your nephew’s MySpace page, but a damn concise summary of about a millenium’s worth of color-theory history.
• Sibagraphics on international color meanings: Colors’ meanings are by no means universal across cultures. In Egypt, apparently, yellow is a color of mourning; to the Chinese, green means your wife is cheating on you; in Japan, pink is popular with both men and women. Sidestep a cross-cultural misunderstanding by screening your palettes for international projects here.
• ColorZilla: Pimp your Firefox browser for color tasks with this plugin.
• ColourMod: this free widget saves you from having to fire up Creative Suite every time you want to grab a juicy color you see.
Find killer background patterns
Create, browse and download background patterns for your designs. These tools can help:
Play with color more
• Multicolr Search Lab: Search Flickr images by color
• Name that Color: Want to know the name of a specific hue? Find it here.
• HP IdeaLab’s Online Color Thesaurus: Hewlett-Packard’s color scientists get rigorous about colors’ names with this collaborative project.
• WolframAlpha: This “computational knowledge engine” includes a color category, marrying color names with hex, RGB, CMYK and other values, temperatures and even light wavelengths. Color-nerds, rejoice.