Let’s say I see a great piece of artwork on InPrnt or DeviantArt (for simplicity, let’s say it is pixel art with a fairly simple palette of colors) and I think it is so great that I want to copy the colors used to create my own image.
Assuming the subject/purpose of my work is completely unrelated to the original piece and the only aspect of the original which I draw from are the colors, can I legally publish my illustrations/pieces made with this palette (copied exactly) online or send them to be reviewed by a game developer/website designer/etc.?

  • This comment is all kinds of pointless, but I love to remind people that Apple patented rounded corners on a rectangle device (or something like that). I believe they even won a court case against Samsung because they supposedly infringed on that patent... Though I believe it was just one part of the case. So anything is possible... If apple thinks your brochure looks too Apple like with its grey color scheme, they might just come after you if you have millions of dollars.
    – Joonas
    Jan 25 '19 at 8:32

Technically if you copy something verbatim, its wrong. No matter how small the thing is you wanted to copy. However, there is also some point where this breaks down and becomes entirelly silly. If i like a black and white drawing, and make a black and white drawing did i breach copyright? Well, no.

But there are some other reasons to avoid this. For one if you draw your "inspiration" from one source, then you can be in problems if your design in future neccessitates one more color and you are truly incapable of original thought. For this reason alone its a good idea to find variations on the same theme before you go into it. Since you are drawing from multiple sources ot also feels for you much less like copying directly. Thisway you have more options and more rounded decission. This is literally so easy to do that there simply is no reason not to do it.


That's depends on when you are located. If you live in US you step on a thin ice. Colors may be patented, color scheme may be patented, two specific colors next to each other may be patented.

If you live outside US? Go for it. You want to use Mondrian colors? There is no such things as Mondrian colors. Go for it. You want to make a painting using same colors Van Gogh used in Starry night? Go for it. It's not about what colors you will use but how.

In the age when so many artist can show their work so freely and are using the same tools that RESTRICT them I would be mighty surprised if there weren't at least two artworks on Deviant art that use the same color scheme just by pure coincidence (omitting grayscale and b&W pictures of course).

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