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I'm looking for some sort of service, tool or application – even manual techniques – where you can digitally mix/blend 3 or more colors (i.e. not 2 as in most applications out there) and get the results in HEX/RGB/CMYK/CIELAB, etc.

Immensely thankful for any tips!

Question background (no necessary read)

One of the main reasons I'm looking for an accurate way of doing this, is for the application of sampling colors from an image when building e.g. color identities. Most color sampling tools tend to be pixel precise, so in order to get the right color (among various nearby candiate pixels), you need to have a lot of patience. Even then, the exact color you're after may not be there – yet it's there, so to speak. (Yep, I know it might be superficial.) Anyway, what I use to do in those situations, is to sample one color that is close to what I want, and another close ditto, then mix them both and settle for the middle (superficially 'correct') color. My problem is that I often wish I could mix a bunch of colors (≥3), to get more accurate blends, finding that perfect blend in-between.

That's one situation where I have a need for this, but there's another case (probably even more important): At some point I begin to arrive on a final scheme (during which I might have some 10 colors remaining, which still needs to be reduced to about 2–4 colors). In this situation I often find it a useful method to consolidate, or abstract multiple (similar) colors into single ones (especially if they originate from the same source of element, or if they appear as shades of the same color). Again, it would be great if I could just throw 'em in a 'blender' and move on.

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3 Answers 3

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I have finally found a tool that does the job:

An online service called Colorhexa.

Using this tool you may enter e.g. #00ACE6 + #FFEE4C + #EA0085 + #CE1BBD and it politely hands you the resulting blend, #ae6d9d!

You may omit the hashes (#) and you can even blend different color formats such as any combination of RGB, CMYK, HSL, HEX, etc. in one go!

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Maybe this is kludgy, but you could use an image-editing application like GIMP or Photoshop to place each color in a layer, mix them, flatten, then sample the color.

I think the problem you are going to have is that mixing colors is more than just colors on top of each other. It is also a matter of transparency and specific blending modes. Mixing too many colors could quickly end up with either white (RGB, additive) or muddy (CMYK, subtractive).

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Philip: That's an approach I didn't think of. Might work but as you say, I think it might be too tricky getting blending modes and transparencies right (transparency probably even harder to calculate). What I'm looking for, is more like a mathematical solution. I'm guessing, since it's possible (and quite common in many graphic programs) to mix two colors and get a middle one (see for example design-lib.com/color_tool_mixer.php), there must be a way to calculate the blend between more than two, although I can realize it must be much harder to program such functionality. –  hced Sep 22 '11 at 23:36
    
I wonder if this principle would be accurate? You have 3 colors; A, B and C. First, using something like the service I added in my previous comment (design-lib.com/color_tool_mixer.php), mix A and B. Let's call the resulting blend, 1. Then mix B and C and call the result, 2. Finally, mix 1 and 2 … and you have a result. I wonder if this is the way to go. (And if you want to mix more than 3 colors, it would only be a matter of mixing pairs, then mixing the results from those pairs, in pairs, and so on.) –  hced Sep 22 '11 at 23:38
    
@hced: Mathematically, results can, and will, be different based on the tool itself. In the example you posted, going from pure blue {R:0, G:0, B:255} to pure yellow {R:255, G:255, B:0} results in a dull green in the middle, perhaps the dullness resulting from some averaging. I'd think you're better off using layers so you can play with effects on your own to get the colors you want. Again, its kludgy, and it may result in too many choices to play with, but at least you are reliant on your own tools and not someone else's. I am curious to know if you find anything that does what you want. –  Philip Regan Sep 23 '11 at 0:18
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The mixer brush in Photoshop CS5 is the closest thing I know to what you are looking for. Corel Painter has quite sophisticated mixing tools, very closely mimics real paint types, but I'm not familiar with that program. Might be worth downloading a trial version of each and checking them out.

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