Top 7 Mobile Apps for Editing Color Palettes

Colors are vital to the work of designers and artists, and anyone who needs to coordinate colors, such as marketing, wardrobe, or painting your house. Following on our post about iPad apps for web designers, here we smackdown the latest crop of color-palette tools.

Key features to look for:

  • Extract colors: From the camera or photo library. Automatically and/or an eyedropper.
  • Generate palettes: Get inspiration with color wizards. Set various rules and the app makes harmonious color schemes. 
  • Color visualizations: See color relationships. Could be on a color circle, with abstract shapes, or in a 2D or 3D graph.
  • Adjustments: Sliders, knobs or joysticks for changing the hue, brightness or color balance. 
  • Preview and share: Display color combinations with strips, circles, etc., simulate colorblindness, share with social media.
  • Integrate with Adobe Photoshop: If you use Photoshop, you’ll want the app to be a mobile color studio, getting images from Photoshop and setting colors in Photoshop.
The following are the best color palette apps, in alphabetical order:

Adobe Kuler
Create color palettes from images, and browse/share/rate hundreds of thousands of palettes in Adobe’s Kuler community. Extract colors from images with an eyedropper. Edit colors with small sliders, with no numeric entry. Browse your own images, or images on Google or Flickr. Uses Adobe Creative Cloud to export color swatches to use in Adobe CS applications or other Adobe Touch apps.
$10 for Android only; Not on available for iOS.
Google Play (Android):

Adobe Lava

Finger-paint to make color palettes. This app presents another vision from Adobe on mixing colors. The middle of the screen is a sketchpad for smearing your finger around. Paint with colors, or load from your photo library. Your last touch becomes the current palette color. Connects to Adobe Photoshop to transmit colors to Photoshop. Share a list of colors by email. Saves multiple palettes. Can only edit with the finger-paint mode, no sliders nor manual editing. $3 for iPad only.
Quickly and easily create and edit color palettes with this robust new tool. Only app that lets you edit colors in 3D, or visualize any image’s color distributions in 3D (which is more like how our brains understand color). Automatically extract colors from your camera or photo library, or directly choose via an eyedropper. Generate harmonious palettes with a color wizard by choosing options like “vivid” or “natural”. The next version will also have color theory rules (e.g. “complimentary”). Make precise adjustments using sliders and numerical entry in multiple color spaces (RGB, CMYK, Lab, HSV, HLS, and NCS), or a joystick. Blend mode creates a gradient from palette colors. Create artistic previews with strips, circles, squares and in the style of Josef Albers or Gunta Stolzl. Colorblindness preview. Share via email, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, DropBox, or the iPad photo library. And if you are connected to Adobe Photoshop on your desktop, it syncs foreground and background colors in real time, loads the current Photoshop window, or exports swatches — becoming a mobile color console. By $5 for iPad only.
Color Viewfinder
Simple app to get color palettes in realtime. Just point your iPhone camera at any scene, and it instantly displays a 5-color palette. But speed has a downside: often some key colors get missed (notice the red of the butterfly’s wing was ignored). Still, it’s useful for simple scenes with large amounts of flat color. Share with email, Twitter and Facebook. $0 for up to 10 palettes, then $1 for unlimited palettes.
In the app store:
iPad, iPhone & iPod touch:
Create color schemes based on color relationships. Define schemes based on color theory rules (e.g., complementary, analogous), and an anchor color. Generate palettes by changing the anchor color, or manually override the rules. Adjust colors on the color wheel, a color square, or sliders (RGB and Hex) with numerical overrides. Sync between devices with iCloud, and share themes via email with ASE, PNG or PDF attachments. By Ender Labs. $2.
In the app store:
Palettes Pro
Feature-rich, but confusing app for managing, sorting and editing palettes with up to 25 colors each. Get colors from an image with an eyedropper, from color lists, or get colors defined in HTML from a URL. Sliders and numerical editing in RGB, HSV, HSL, CMYK, and Greyscale colorspaces. Blend colors, displaying 1-3 colors between two source colors or create rule-based schemes. Share via email, sending as attachments your choice of Adobe color swatches, Mac OSX chooser, GIMP palettes, or Paintshop Pro. Import and export via iTunes on the desktop, iCloud, Dropbox, or Google docs. Free version has only 3 palettes, limited ways to extract, blend, import, export and share. $6, $3, or free, depending on features.
In the app store:
iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch:
Real Colors
Elegant iPhone app focused on generating 5-color palettes from photos. It’s not instantaneous, automatic extraction takes 5-30 seconds, and it’s not always accurate. Displays interesting 2D color maps showing the distribution of colors (like a flattened view of the 3D distributions in ColoRotate). Colors can be edited in RGB and HSB with simple sliders. Saves palettes. Export Adobe Swatch Exchange. Share via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail. By Makan Studios. Free or $3 to unlock color theory rules, like complementary and tetrad.
In the app stores:
All these apps will help you work with colors. The best are Kuler (for Android) and ColoRotate (for iPad).

Mars Cureg

Web designer by profession, photography hobbyist, T-shirt lover, design blog founder, gamer. Socially and physically awkward, lack of social skills, struggles to communicate with anyone who doesn't have a keyboard. Willing to walk to get to the promised land. Photo and video freelancer, SEO. Check out more on my Google+

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