Cool Tool Friday: Picking Colors With Color Schemer

I got a request to talk abut Color Schemer in the next Cool Tool Friday, so I checked it out, and here’s what I think so far.

Very cool tool. And simple. Color Schemer is great for people like me who don’t have much design sense, or are too lazy to put much thought into design. I usually have to steal color schemes off of other sites on the web, or either hire a designer, or beg one to give me some free advice. Now I can try using Color Schemer to come up with complementary colors, and I can blame the application if they look like crap.

The application is small and efficient, which I really like. I usually prefer little apps that do one thing very well rather than big, bloated apps that try to do everything at once. Color Schemer just does one thing, and it seems to do it very well.

I also like the fact that part of using Color Schemer is understanding a little about color and design. Rather than just telling you what colors to use, you are encouraged to actually learn a little about color, color theory, and color combinations which you can do quickly and easily through the Color Schemer online tutorial.

I also like the little features that help integrate it with web development workflow, like being able to easily copy HEX colors to your clipboard, and the ability to save color schemes.

What don’t I like about it? Well, I’ve only been playing with it for about 45 minutes now, so I don’t have enough experience with it yet to say whether it really works or not. I haven’t used any of its recommended schemes to build a site with yet, so for all I know, it could turn out looking horrible, but I think as long as you pick reasonable colors to start with, it will pick reasonable colors to compliment them.

One thing I don’t understand about Windows applications is why you always have to install them. I know most people don’t give this a second thought, but since I’m also a Mac and Linux user, it really bugs me that I have to install even the smallest of applications on Windows. Why can’t I just download an EXE file, put it where I want, create shortcuts where and if I want. Then, I can just delete the application if I don’t want it anymore without having to go through all the trouble of uninstalling it, and further fragmenting my hard drive. This is obviously not specific to Color Schemer, but it bugs me nonetheless.

Another potential disadvantage that I can see so far is possibly the price. Color Schemer is $34.99 while Color Schemer Studio is $49.99. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, but it’s a little hard to swallow when you just need a few color suggestions every couple of months or so. (I would find it easier to pay for an RSS aggregator that I use several times a day, for instance.) Obviously the more you use it, the more it makes sense, but if you were the type of person who needed to pick out colors on a daily basis, you are probably more of a designer who wouldn’t use a tool like this at all. This is a very small point, though, since if it saves me from having to consult with a designer even once, it has probably paid for itself. I just feel like I’m constantly reaching for my credit card these days, and half the applications I open up are begging me to purchase them. I should probably just get over it, stop being cheap, and start supporting the hard-working developers building these cool tools.

Anyway, does anyone have any experience with this tool who would like to comment? How about similar tools? Anything for other platforms?

10 Responses to Cool Tool Friday: Picking Colors With Color Schemer

  1. Bryan Rieger says:

    My fave colour tool is ColorImpact http://www.tigercolor.com/ – a few more export formats, copy/past colour chips, ability to create forumlas to generate pallettes – really nice overall.

  2. I think I tried that once. I also like some of the color scheme generators out on the internet that are free. However I also look for color schemes on the internet that I can use quite like yourself. I also tend to be quite boring usually and often choose smoke white, and light blue and grey’s. I think that keeping to a few light colors adds to the professionalism quite like your blog. Please don’t mention my blog. It was a very unconventional approach by me made a year ago that at the time was just to get something out there. I now look at it everyday and wonder when I’ll get a chance to kick it up a notch!

  3. “Why can’t I just download an EXE, put it where I want, and make shortcuts?”The answer is, we are still living the legacy of Microsoft’s stupidity. Many of us may recall the DOS/Win3.1 days where you could do exactly what you suggest… just copy and run an exe. And now (for those of you not familiar with .NET) MS is headed back in that direction… installing a well-designed .NET app should be as easy as copy and run.There are some great things about .NET, I won’t dispute that. But what cracks me up is listening to M$ marketing telling us how .NET saves us from the hellish experience programming was up until now (complicated install/uninstall, “DLL Hell”, etc) all problems that Microsoft lead the way in creating 10yrs ago.Might “we’ll sue that pants off ’em… and then we’ll sell ’em pants” apply here?

  4. Christian: I’m on the opposite side of the installer issue… I can’t stand it when apps don’t have installers. It’s a giant pain to keep track of every little widget that I’ve ever installed, and I have less than zero interest in creating my own shortcuts in as many as three different locations.

  5. Steve Ray says:

    Looking at EasyRGB, Color Schemer’s a bargain. $178? Are you kidding?I’m really liking Color Schemer already, after five minutes of playing with it. I’d gladly plunk down $35 for it, esp since I can’t pick colors to save my life.Thanks.

  6. I’m working on a swing application in which I’m customizing a list component to have different selection colors. Color Schemer has already helped me pick out two nice and subtle colors that go well together. I might find that I use it more than I originally thought I would. Maybe I’ll try using it to help me pick out my clothes in the morning.

  7. Todd says:

    Color Schemer pwnz you. Seriously though, I love the app. It has helped me with CSS coloring, etc.You’re forgetting something big too. Pick all your favorite colors and you can export to a Photoshop ACO file and load it into photoshop. You can also save it as a CSS file, etc.

  8. Mike Nimer says:

    Another useful color tool, only problem is you can specify the hexcodes.http://www.pixy.cz/apps/barvy/index-en.html

  9. ddrum says:

    BTW, if you check out ColorSchemer and like it, then use Nick Bradbury’s discount offer for CS, 20% off 🙂http://nick.typepad.com/blog/2004/06/color_schemer_s.html

  10. David says:

    I’ve tried both ColorSchemer and ColorImpact and I find ColorImpact by far the more useful of the two. The color formulas are great, and you can make your own. The eyedropper has a unique key-combo approach to sampling colors. I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t export in a format you need. http://www.tigercolor.com