I've searched online; I've used numerous color web apps; I've even spoken with my graphic designer - but I still don't have a solution for this.

What I want to do is come up with a color guide or tool that helps pick colors that contrasts well when placed adjacent to each other.

Normally, this wouldn't be too difficult of a problem to solve but there are a few criteria that makes this problem more of a headache:

  • Colors will be printed on a special kind of paper that affects the presentation of the colors enormously. This means colors will look different when printed out, but there will at least be consistency in the difference in color (from its digital counterpart).
  • All color families (ex. a green, a blue, a red, a yellow etc) will be suggested. - All color families should have as much contrast from each other as possible.
  • Colors suggested must be from a list of pre-selected colors.

A huge pain in the ass as you can see. I can't simply use a web app because I have a (long) list of pre-approved colors to follow. And I can't simply judge colors by their values alone because I want a color palette that includes all color families (as you know, some colors simply have more gray in them).

This is a difficult problem.

Does anyone know how to solve it?

  • 2
    I'm assuming you have but will ask anyway, have you tried Kuler? Using the complimentary mode seems like it would do what you want.
    – gburning
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 10:59
  • @burnso for the win. When in doubt, google swatches or go to Kuler and make your own.
    – Manly
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:51
  • Thanks for the recommendation. I'm aware of Kuler, and use it regularly for other work. But it doesn't meet the criteria: full color palette containing all major color families, colors suggested need to be from a pre-selected list.
    – Atlas2k
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 2:47

4 Answers 4


This online app is more than enough to do your job.

Color Scheme Designer 3


Why not use the color schemes given by google:


Find your original color of which u wish to find the contrast and find its adjacent numbers of other colors.

For Ex. your original color is 600 of original color then the 600 of other colors can be selected of your choice


You have said that you know the pre determined list of colors, and that they are to be printed (to show color difference.)

I am afraid that there is no quick way of doing this, but once its done you won't need to do it again. For a recent project I did (print related with range of colors) I got a list of the colors on my mac, went to Kuler and got the complimented ones, and then printed them out on card the size of playing cards. Then you can keep them in the groups, mixing and matching by hand.

I now have 12-15 groups of printed out swatches to play with.


If you know the CMYK or RGB value - Open Photoshop color picker by clicking on any chosen color. In your color picker, Insert your CMYK or RGB value and scroll your color picker down the central vertical color bar through your reds, blues etc. Your color picker identifies the family.

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