When using an application or browsing a website, few people ever pause to consider the colours used. If they do notice, it's usually because the designer got something wrong--either a jarring combination, or a lack of contrast that makes text difficult to make out. But for the designer, picking the right colours to use is not an easy task, especially if the brand already has a base colour which they must use. ColorSchemer Studio offers multiple tools that aim to make it simpler to come up with attractive, usable schemes.

At first, ColorSchemer Studio may feel a bit overwhelming. There's no Wizard you step through to get to your perfect scheme. You start by selecting a Base colour that would serve as the anchor point for your scheme. You can select it out of a library of named colours, feed it in directly as an RGB or HSL value, or use an eyedropper to pick it from anywhere on your screen.

Once you have a Base colour you can easily tweak it with RGB and HSL sliders, or using handy buttons that let you quickly change saturation and brightness. Fortunately, you don't have to go through this entire song and dance for every colour on your palette (although you can, if you really want to). Extrapolating a palette out of that single colour is what ColorSchemer Studio does best.

You can start off by using the colour Wheel, which lets you quickly find matching colours as Complements, Split-Complements, Triads, Tetrads and a bunch of other colour-theory terms. If you require finer control over your palette, you may want to use the LiveSchemes feature. Here you start off with your base colour and add harmonious colours, but retain full control over each hue. Also, moving your Base colour moves all harmonious colours along with it, so your scheme retains the exact same colour relationships while using different hues.

ColorSchemer's Mixer feature allows you to reach from colour A to colour B via a succession of colours arranged either on a gradient or as steps on a colour wheel (clockwise or counter-clockwise). As you may expect, you get to set the exact number of steps from A to B (i.e, how fine the gradient is going to be).

There are several other colour selection tools, but even with all of them at your disposal, you may not be completely happy with the colour scheme you end up with. Perhaps you can draw inspiration from some other designer's palette (or just use it). ColorSchemer's GalleryBrowser feature hooks right into ColorLovers, which is a community of designers sharing and rating palettes, patterns and individual colours for other people to use. You can use this feature to pull countless beautiful schemes right into the app and tweak them as needed.

When a scheme is presented as a few colour swatches, it is not always easy to imagine what it would look like on a finished layout. The QuickPreview tool offers a plethora of pre-baked layouts ("Blog," "2-Column" etc.) letting you drag-and-drop colours out of your scheme to see how they really work together.

At the end of the process, when you finally have that perfect scheme for your project, ColorSchemer can easily export it into numerous formats, including HTML, CSS, ACO (Adobe Photoshop colour Palette), and just about any other palette interchange format imaginable.

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ColorSchemer Studio: Specs

  • Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
  • 2408 KB hard disk space
  • Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
  • 2408 KB hard disk space

OUR VERDICT

ColorSchemer Studio is nothing if not comprehensive. With its many tools, you can spend hours tweaking colours and mulling over your choices. If you're the type of designer who feels the need for fine-grained control over colour, this is one of the best tools around.

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