These online tools are great but you get best results if you learn a bit about color theory. The role of light, primary and secondary colors, analog and complimentary or the works of Munsell or Kandinsky is a knowledge that always comes in handy no matter how good taste you have in designing your own color schemes.
While theory is great, nature still is the richest source of inspiration when you have to come up with something new. The psychological and anthropological connections of color, the tones and contrast that flowers use to attract the insects or the way the animals change their skins to repel predators are great examples of the importance of color in nature.
These relations can be brought to the web in many ways, for instance:
- Use yellow and green tones if your website has something to do with travel or agriculture.
- Choose colors that are clearly identified with the product such as brown chocolate, plum or olive.
- Red has a cognitive perception of danger and warning. You can use it when you need to have immediate attention by the user.
- Light yellow and blue in a horizontal layout can create a calm and peaceful design, reminding us of the beach, the sea and the horizon.
Another great choice you have to pick your color schemes from are the works of great painters, particularly those who excel in the use of color such as Kandinsky or Picasso.
[Colorful Ensemble by Wassily Kandinsky]
Find how color was employed by these artists or just use your Photoshop picker in some of the paintings and build your next Mona Lisa color scheme. If the natural way is still not enough you have a lot of resources on the web:
- Color Schemer Online v2
- Color Scheme Generator on WellStyled
- Color Palette
- Color Schemer
- Color Match redux
- Color Jack
If you have some other great resources you want to share, feel free to post a comment.
Update: Veerle has an awesome article on the same subject