generating color?

generating color?

generating color?

generating color?

generating color?


it is important to keep in mind that i am passionate about color … okay crazy passionate … as it helps explain why the hairs stand up on the back of my neck when i hear the following words … “color picker” and “color generator.”


before i cut to the quick regarding my thoughts on “generators,”

let me share with you how i create Design Seeds in a nutshell :


1. track color and design trends
2. create mental lists of inspiration images that convey trending moods and aesthetics, as well as key trending colors
3. purchase photos and modify them in Photoshop using actions and filters so i can get just the right look and color placement

4. bring the images into Illustrator and mix each color swatch one at a time
5. finally, i export the inspiration from Illustrator for final tweaks in Photoshop, record all the color values, and then upload the palettes up to the Design Seeds site. for information on how to get the color codes for Design Seeds color, please check out my  “What’s that Color?” post.


***edited 9.11.14***

since publishing this post nearly 3 years ago, my creative process has evolved and i have begun taking my own photos. i now use mostly Instagram for these first 3 steps. you can follow me HERE as i share inspiration which will evolve into Design Seeds palettes. Now on to the original post…


what do i never to :

1. “pull” colors from the image
2. use the color dropper or any color extraction tools or programs


wait right there … i know it may sound contradictory to say i never “pull” colors from photos.  isn’t that the ENTIRE point of Design Seeds?!


well, yes and no … stay with me as i will illustrate how i truly never physically “pull” colors from a photo :


it starts with the most dangerous talk i hear when talking about color palettes and photos … the infamous dropper tool. we all know Impressionism and Pointillism. you know that when you are in a museum, the colors you see standing 6 inches away from the canvas blend and do amazing things when you step 12 feet away. it’s how these tiny dabs of hues mix through our mind’s eye to create certain color placement and synergy in the painting.


the same is true for graphic images. instead of dabs of paint, they are pixels. color droppers pick just one of those pixels at a time. it does not blend many pixels into a color, or view color through a minds’ eye. it is literally one little pixel chosen that generates a color swatch “pulled” from a the photo. see below for how many browns there are in one tiny area of the image in {sprinkled hues}



imagine the roulette it would be clicking around all those browns with a picker tool?


before i start mixing colors to create a palette … I consider the overall colors of the photo, how they interact, which ones are particularly inspiring me, and which will combine to make the most successful palette.


moving on from the color dropper and onto a less widely discussed, but becoming more popular topic … many sites & blogs are starting to share about color extraction programs. extraction programs have algorithms and are created with math which take many aspects of the pixelated color into considered equations. have you ever notice how many colors these programs can offer up to for one image? it is somewhat increasing the odds to generate good color, yet still relying on you to pull the right colors from what it has generated into a focused palette. i compare these programs to the “magic 8 ball of color.” you may have luck with what the software generates, but it is not consistent.


i find color software programs fascinating in considering the knowledge of math science that drives them. that said, we all know design and art are born out of talent, instinct, and heart. why would one suppose color does not require the same? it is that amazingly intangible human quality we are so fortunate to possess which explains why color can rock our world. the quality that a person has that makes them love color, is the same one which is critical in creating palettes.


i hope that in understanding the how ( and how-i-don’t create ) Design Seeds color inspiration, you will be inspired that can trust your color
eye. your eye for color is so much better than any eye dropper or color program. next time you see an image you LOVE … trust your instincts. think about what color you see that inspires or moves you. no software or digital tool can match your instincts.


sponsored links

  • Kathryn & Olivia

    Color and light have always been my blood and then design…I never use a color generator because i trust my eye and my heart and that is why Design Seeds is so exciting for me…because intuitively i am drawn to your boards and not color cards etc. I also love the moods and feel i get with your boards because of the pictures you put with them. I can’t thank you enough for your passion and bringing it to life so beautifully.Your passion mirrors mine! Linda

  • Jean Burroughs

    I have an OCD for color. I can’t think of anything I’d rather have as it is the driving force of my life. I save every palette and sometimes just sit and look at them. What a high I get from your talent. Jwan

    • jessica

      thank you Jean … i appreciate your comment & kind words! i never dreamt my passion for color could be actualized as it has, i am extremely grateful.

  • Yussra

    I always had this crazy passion for colors, I never thought one could translate such passion into something so wonderful. I must say your projects are pure joy to me. Thanks big time for putting such an amazing effort to bring that lively website. Keep up the inspiration!

    • jessica

      thank you Yussra … i very much appreciate your thoughtful comment and kind words!

  • Stephanie Corridori

    I’m fascinated by your talent and process. From one color lover to another, keep up the amazing work. You are an inspiration!

    • jessica

      thank you Stephanie…i appreciate your comment & support

  • Sarah

    I have used a few of the palette generators out there when picking fabrics for quilts. Does what you illustrated about the eye dropper tool hod true when its picking from a picture of a swatch of fabric?

    • jessica

      hi Sarah … i am a little unsure of your question, but from my understanding of what you are asking it indeed holds true. all images are pixelated (whether a photo of nature, print, or fabric) … & color software / eye dropper tools all share the same inaccuracies in their ability to “match” compared to the human eye and how we see color.

  • Paul

    What an interesting process! I would love to see how you “mix” your swatches from an image in illustrator. Perhaps you could explain that process in depth! Very cool.

  • Amy

    Wow! I love this. I’ve been designing websites for years and I have often chosen colours by ‘picking’ from photos – a long and often unsuccessful process. I feel very informed by this post and inspired by the lovely way in which you create your colour palettes. Thank you! x

    • jessica

      thank you Amy! …i appreciate your comment & feedback!

  • Maggie

    I can not be more grateful for the time and effort you put into creating such beautiful palettes. I simply feel inspired when I look at these pictures:)

    • jessica

      thank you so much Maggie <3 …i very much appreciate your comment and kind words!

  • Gabriel Mott Colors

    I love your explanation for why color pickers miss the color! Color is relative. :)

    • jessica

      thank you Gabriel!

  • Sharon Crosby

    I have always been amazed by how you seem to get the “essence” of the colors from photos. I think it is probably because you have such a passion for color.
    I still like using color pickers and generators for creating palettes for fun…but from the first times I’ve used them I knew they were missing the boat a bit. They really miss getting that “divine essence” from the photo like you do. I’m not sure if I could create good palettes doing it the way you described, but I am sure it will really help me to at least try and really see colors better.
    Thank you so much for sharing your process. I love being inspired by your palettes and now I am inspired even more by this post. :)

    • jessica

      thank you for your very thoughtful comment & kind words Sharon <3