Let me say right at the outset that I’m not an obvious choice for reviewing this application. I’m not a designer, and I don’t currently work on maintaining any websites; I have little use of software for working out effective color schemes in my day-to-day life and work. These facts might make me either entirely the wrong person to assess ColorSchemer Studio 2, or just the right guy.
I used to be involved in running the website of a big local authority, and I have seen first-hand the damage that can be done by untrained eyes when the thought arises “Wouldn’t it be nice just to add a little splash of color to this page?” With ColorSchemer, this needn’t be such a big problem any more.
This is a really clever app that simplifies the work of coming up with effective and attractive color combinations for websites or any screen design work. You don’t need to be a professional designer to appreciate its great features or to find it useful whenever you do need to work with colors.
A Quick Walkthrough
ColorSchemer 2’s main window is split into three panels. On the left hand side is the Base Color Section; in the middle, the Matching Colors Section; and, on the right, your Favorite Colors.
When you first open the application, you’re presented with a Color Wheel in the Matching Colors section – one of several ways you can go about generating schemes.
Start by choosing your base color in the left hand panel. You can do that by using the RGB and Hue, Saturation and Brightness drag controls to mix the perfect color, or simply by entering the Hexadecimal value of the color you’re after. You can also click on Spectrum to pick your base that way.
New in ColorSchemer 2 is the ability to switch to CMYK values instead of RGB (click on ‘Adjust’ and then ‘Color Space’).
The Library tab lets you pick from existing libraries of colors: ‘Crayon Colors,’ ‘HTML Names Color,’ and ‘Web Safe Colors’.
You can also choose your base color using the Palettes tool under the Matching Colors section, where you can choose from built-in palettes or load custom ones.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hit [CMD]+[R] and get yourself an instant random base for your scheme!
This is already a huge range of ways to get started, but there’s also the Screen Picker, which is a particularly nice tool. Select it by clicking on the dropper in the bottom-left corner (visible in the first screenshot above), which turns your cursor into a magnifying glass that you can use to pick a color from anywhere onscreen, whether that be a detail of a photograph or a color that you fall in love with on another website. Just drag the dropper over the color you want to capture, click, and the color is selected as your base.
The Color Wheel quickly generates a set of colors that work well with the base. The LiveSchemes tab gives you another tool to come up with combinations, derived from your base and colors selected on the basis of formulas that are dynamically updated as you manipulate the ‘spokes’ of the color selector.
The Mixer is a tool for working with color transitions – along with your base color, you select an end color, and the app generates a gradient of colors linking those two.
And, finally, the Variations tab lets you quickly see variations and colors related to your base.
You can drag colors that you particularly like into the Favorite Colors panel so that your colour scheme is saved for the future.
If you’re working on a page that is dominated by an image, click on ‘PhotoSchemer’ in the menu bar. You can then drag the image into ColorSchemer and it will instantly generate a colour scheme that complements your image. You can break the image down to a simple Mosaic to generalise its colors, or click on ‘Randomize’ to have the app choose different colors from within the image.
Previewing Your Choices
What to me is the coolest feature of ColorSchemer 2 is having the ability to test run your color schemes: click on ‘Quick Preview’ and you can choose from a range of template mock-ups and then simply drag colors to different parts of the Preview to see what your scheme will look like onscreen.
Of course this is imperfect, because it’s unlikely the pages you’re working on will look exactly like any of the templates, but it’s still a great tool to give an easy approximation of what your design will look like.
Share and Share Alike
If, like me (see my preview above), you don’t have the best eye in the world, you’ll really love the social aspect of ColorSchemer 2. It has a direct link into the community at COLOURlovers.com – click on ‘Gallery Browser’ and you instantly have access to more than a million contributed color palettes: what a great resource! An endless source of inspiration and ideas…
But Wait, There’s More…
I’ve already walked you through a whole lot of features, but there’s quite a lot more to recommend in ColorSchemer 2, such as its tools for ensuring that the colors you’re choosing are web safe, and its ability to simulate color-blindness so that you can know in advance how your schemes will be viewed by a people with a range of visibility issues.
If you’re someone who works with color schemes every day, then ColorSchemer 2 could be an invaluable tool, and well-worth the entry-fee of $49.99.
Even if you’re not in that position – if you’re ever likely to find yourself having to come up with a color scheme, ColorSchemer might still be worth having. It works well, is good fun to use, and it takes the anxiety out of coming up with effective and professional color combinations.
ColorSchemer is well designed, fun to use, and it takes the anxiety out of coming up with effective and professional color combinations. It packs enough functionality to more than justify the price tag, and is a valuable tool if you regularly work with color and design.8