Choosing a Color Picking Tool

Choosing a Color Picking Tool

Giant Wes Anderson fan writing you here. So I loved loved loved it when I saw this Wes Anderson Color Palette blog. It’s like several of my happy worlds colliding into rainbows and unicorns. The blogger pulls color palettes from scenes in various Wes Anderson movies. This screenshot is from Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.


The site shows five circles of color, taken from this scene. The only frustrating part? The site doesn’t give me the means to replicate those beautiful colors! What if I want a Wes Anderson color theme in my next slideshow?

This was a welcome opportunity to test the various color-picking tools the world has given us to see who comes out on top. Basically, color-picking tools work by telling you the formula that makes up each color. I’m working in PowerPoint, so I want an RGB color formula. RGB stands for the precise mix of Red, Green, and Blue that will make up my choice color.

My go-to color-picking tool has always been Adobe Kuler. I upload my screenshot and it pulls out the colors from the image and gives me the RGB codes I need.

AndersonKulerSee down there at the bottom where its giving me the RGB color codes? Bingo! Or at least, maybe bingo. How accurate are those color codes?

Well, I tried three other color-picking tools:

Colorblind Assistant is a small app you download and run from from your hard drive. Hover your mouse over a color and it tells you the color code and name.

Colorzilla is a plug-in for Chrome and Firefox. Activate it and click anywhere for a read out of the color codes.

Image Color Picker is an online platform where you upload an image, similar to Adobe Kuler.

All four color-picking tools gave me the exact same color codes. Whew.

Did you know Adobe Kuler is a phone app too? Sweet, or so I thought. I took a screenshot of the same Tumblr page with my phone and pointed my app at the picture.

AndersonKulerAppYeah, so not even close. In the Kuler app, recreating that Zissou orange is RGB color code 196 60 20. In the online Kuler platform shown way above, Zissou orange is 245 75 26.

I tried a second app, Picture Palette, and again got codes all over the place.

Bottom line: Best to go with the online platforms than an app, at least for now. Even using Kuler through my browser on my phone gave me the right color codes. The good news is, there are several awesome color-picking tools to choose from when you need to set the right melancholy eccentric mood for your presentation.

Have you used another tool or app we should know about? Leave it in the comments!



3 thoughts on “Choosing a Color Picking Tool
  1. Craig Hadden (@RemotePoss) says:

    Bruce Gabrielle (author of Speaking PowerPoint) recommends ColorCop, and has a 6-minute video where he demos how to use it to pick slide colours:

    He also has a great video about choosing shades that work well together:

  2. Haley Beth says:

    Thanks for these cool color-picking resources. I have one to add to the collection that I just discovered, thanks to Buzzfeed, of all places.

    Sherwin Williams has a new site, ChipIt!, that allows you to upload .jpg files. Could be your own personal pictures, famous works of art, any image that you want to color capture. After “Chipping” it, you will get a list of 5 Sherwin Williams paint colors. If you click on each of the paint colors, it takes you to their website, where you get both the RGB and Hex value. Pretty cool!

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@KateHG4 there was an @aeaweb coffee break on this awhile ago. Check the archive.

@kyle_e_walker @dckallos yes - when the book is out!

@kyle_e_walker @dckallos we are experimenting for the next book!

@albertocairo @visualisingdata @jschwabish I stand corrected. By this criterion, Cairo won.

Upcoming @RadPresenters episode! RT @albertocairo I'm going to be interviewed by @evergreendata and @jschwabish today. What an honor!

RT @kyle_e_walker: Working on @evergreendata-style dot plots in #rstats w/#ggplot2 - chart of the most unequal countries by Gini index http…

Looking for something a little closer to home? Come to my 3 hr #dataviz workshop w/ @AnnKEmery in #chicago this April

@kyle_e_walker Love it. And thanks - book 2 will also help!

In the Netherlands? Registration just opened for my 2 day #dataviz workshop there in November

@kyle_e_walker nice! What do the different colors mean?