Free Colour Tools – Tony’s Tech Tips

by Tony Gamble

Tony's Tech Tips LogoThe web is alive with colour. Visit this website on a monochrome screen an it absolutely loses some impact. Of course, without the right content, no amount of window dressing will make a bit of difference in your traffic. But careful colour choices can guide the visitor’s eye through the page and can even affect their mood. When I’m designing a website, there are a couple of very cool FREE colour tools in my toolbox that I rely on daily.



Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 8.01.16 PMColourPicker  – Mac OS built-in

It’s true what they say: the best things in life are free. And Mac OS X’s built-in colour selection tool is certainly no exception. Where is this handy free app, you ask? No, you’ll not find it amongst your Applications or Utilities. This tool is built right in to the operating system itself, to be called upon whenever an app you’re using needs to offer you a colour chooser. But did you know you can call up this helpful toolbox whenever you like, as a stand-alone app? It’s quite easy, actually. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Open up AppleScript Editor, which can be found in your Utilities folder inside Applications
  2. In the top window space, just under the Record button, type choose color (and yes, it must be in the American English)
  3. Under the File menu, click Save and change the File Format: to Application
  4. Give your new app a name in the Save As: box, then click Save

Now, when you open your new app, the colour toolbox window will pop up anywhere on your screen. The only thing left is to customize your app’s icon, explained in this #t3 post.

As a web developer, I usually use HEX codes when working with my colours. OS X’s built-in colour chooser unfortunately doesn’t offer this out of the box, but a quick fix for that can be found in Rubicode’s FREE RCWebColorPicker. Place this little package in your ~/Library/ColorPickers folder and on the next launch of your homemade app, you’ll notice a new icon to the far right that will display your colour choices in hexadecimal.

Windows users, fret not. There is an equally simple, equally FREE program called Just Color Picker that comes in a single-file package and can even be run from a USB stick.


Adobe Kuler Web

Picking up the code for a single colour is all fine, but when it comes to finding colours that work together in a design there’s Kuler. This web app uses an intuitive interface and all the classic colour rules, from triadic to complementary. Sign up and you can save and share your colour palettes as themes.

What could be cooler than Kuler? Why, Kuler for iOS, of course! At a cost of zero dollars in the App Store, this little gem does what the website does but with the added coolness factor of integrating the iPhone’s camera. Now the world is your palette.

Do you have a cool app or hack that you can’t live without? Let me know. Drop me a line on Twitter @trinzitter or leave a comment below.

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