How To: Create Color Palettes Using Your Favorite Images

We recently wrote an article about ColourCode ( which is a great resource for creating and managing color palettes. We quickly thought to ourselves, what good is a color palette creator if you don’t have a method of conceptualizing new and unique groups of color?

One of our favorite and most successful ways to develop these new color palettes is to create them using an image that helps convey our target look and feel. Have you ever looked at an image and wanted to convey the same emotional response in your designs? A big contributing factor to this response is the overall color scheme of the image. Using tools like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Kuler we can extract these colors and use them on our design projects. Below we listed a step-by-step tutorial on how to extract these color schemes using Adobe Photoshop.

How To: Create Color Palettes From Images Using Photoshop CS6

Step 1 – Select an Image

Select the image you would like to extract a color palette from and open it up in Photoshop. For this example, we will be using a photo from the FIDM / Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising 2013 Debut Show.

Fashion Show Color Palette

This is an example color palette we extracted from our selected image.


Step 2 – Open the Save For Web Dialog Box

Click on File -> Save for Web . It should open up a dialog box that looks like the one below.

Once you have clicked on Save For Web you should get a dialog box that looks like this.

Once you have clicked on Save For Web you should get a dialog box that looks like this.


Step 3 – Select the ‘GIF Restricted’ Preset

In the top right hand side of the dialog box you should see a drop-down menu labeled ‘Preset’. Click on that and select ‘Gif Restricted’ from the list.

Select GIF Restricted from the preset drop-down menu

This is what the preset drop down menu should look like. Be sure to select GIF Restricted


Step 4 – Select How Many Colors to Include

Once ‘GIF Restricted’ has been selected, you can now choose how many colors you would like to include in the palette. To do this, enter a value into the ‘Colors’ field which can be found in the top right section of the dialog box. For this example we used eight.

Select the amount of colors to include in your color palette.

Select the amount of colors to include in your color palette.


Step 5 – Save Your Color Table

Once you have selected the amount of colors you want to include, it is now time to save the color swatches. To do this, find the section labeled ‘Color Table’ which be found on the right hand side, about half way down in the dialog box. On the top right hand side of this ‘Color Table’ section you will see an icon that has three horizontal lines. Click this icon and select ‘Save Color Table’ (see below). This will prompt you to save a ‘.ACT’ file which can later be opened at any time.

Save Your Color Table

Save Your Color Table

Step 6 – Load Your Color Table

Now all you have to do is load the color table you just saved on what ever project you would like to work on. To do this, make sure your color swatch window is open. If it is not, click on Window -> Swatches. Once the swatches window is open, click on the icon that has three horizontal lines in the top right and then click ‘Load Swatches’.

Load Swatches

Load your swatches from the swatches window.

If done correctly you will now see your extracted color table added to your color swatches. That is it. You can now start designing! Below is the great color palette we created from our selected image.

The Result

Our Final Color Palette

Our Final Color Palette


Adobe Kuler

Would you like to repeat the process above in an easier and quicker way? We suggest using the smart phone app Adobe Kuler. It allows you to get the same result on the go by extracting color schemes from photographs on your smart phone. To go the extra mile, you can even save and share your color schemes with other designers on the Adobe Kuler website.

Adobe Kuler Smart Phone App

Adobe Kuler Smart Phone App

“Adobe® Kuler lets you capture color inspiration anywhere you find it. Capture colors from a mural, garden, or wherever you happen to be with a snap of your iPhone camera. Browse, create, and customize themes for your designs – all on your phone. The color themes you create with the Kuler app can be synced to the Kuler website, an online community for color enthusiasts, for use with other Adobe applications such as Illustrator and Adobe Ideas.”

This app is simply fantastic. We highly recommend checking it out.

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Creative careers begin here.

With four California campuses located in the heart of the fashion and entertainment industries, FIDM is a leading, accredited college offering specialized Associate of Arts and Bachelor’s of Arts degrees. FIDM has been educating students with creative and leadership skills for the global industries of fashion, visual arts, interior design, and entertainment for more than 45 years. Learn more at

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Author: James Peacock

James Peacock is a Digital Marketing Specialist at FIDM in Los Angeles, California. He received his A.A. in Graphic Design from FIDM and was hired as Social Media Assistant in 2013 by his alma mater in order to help grow the institution’s social media marketing efforts. James now combines two of his passions, telling stories and solving problems by managing data-driven marketing campaigns across multiple channels that ultimately result in a positive return on investment.

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  • MD Yusuf

    If we will be using in this photo for Color pallet, then what results come out? Please response me as early as possible.

  • b888

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