An institution I know has chosen the following colors for its theme:


It is used as a banner at bottom of web pages, and the first green is used as the main “institutional” color. I wonder: does that color palette belong to some well-know “category”, or is there any evident principle that lead to its choice? I know there are recommended ways to pick three or four colors (opposing or related hues; triads and tetrads; that sort of stuff), but this doesn't seem to be the case here. How do you pick six colors? Is there any other systematic ways to do so?

3 Answers 3


Meet "Colour Lovers", they have tons of color palettes: http://www.colourlovers.com/

But if you're looking for color palettes for website themes, have a look at Bind Tuning. They have lots of color palettes that we can use to customize the themes.

  • good awnser :-)
    – Francois
    Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 11:12

General theories like compliments, tetrads, analogous and so on are a great place to start. You can even get some interesting results when you overlap systems. In the end, however, it has to come down to instinct. You analyze how you'll use a palette and let that drive your process. The colors you referenced could be fantastic together or a total train wreck -- it's all in the implementation.

My system for any institutional palette is to identify the requirements of communicating the brand (product line, business units, communication media, audience, etc). The largest palette of core colors I've recommended was 8 (with variations therein). That was primarily to support a broad product line. In the end they all had to work together and no predefined system was going to make that happen for me.


There exists system to pick colors that supposedly are better together than others f.ex. complementary colors, or has some mathematically applied angle relationship to match, some match colors based on the same level of saturation, contrast or luminance values and so forth.

However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder as the old cliche goes. Sometimes color palettes are made up based on historical factors (perhaps the main color is based on the first color used in that institution), or if colors have a special meaning (in a hospital you will find colors that has a psychological effect such as green, cyan supposedly giving a calm environment etc.). Perhaps the colors are picked based on emotional factors (ie. using the colors based on a country's flag, symbolic meanings). And sometimes are picked just because they look good together..

There are designers that are very strict and conforming when choosing colors. IMO using complementary colors and math rules can give you some good pointers and help you start off, but in the end it's about creativity and not rules.

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