I am using a color wheel to create a palette.
If I use a color wheel pattern/system like triadic, analagous, complimentary etc this will generate a series of basic colors/hues.
My question is:
Once the base color palette has been selected - how do I then select specific shades off of the base colors? My intuition is to consider the percentage of area that a color would be applied to.
For example if I had a composition involving a couch and cushions (assuming I had the ability to change their colors), and had a blue/orange complimentary scheme/palette. I would use a lighter/softer blue for the couch, and a strong vivid orange because the couch is so much larger and would otherwise dominate the composition if I didn't give the cushions a stronger "voice" by way of a more intense color.

Is my intuition correct? are there other factors I should consider?

  • What's your intention? Why are you needing different shades? Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 16:12
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    @ZachSaucier The intention is for a website design. I considered mentioning the context in the question, but figured color theory would be the same across disciplines? e.g. print, art, architecture etc? Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 16:28

3 Answers 3


I, personally, like to use an app called ColorSchemer on the Mac. However, I'm sure other color tools may be similar in nature.

So, start with your desired wheel and pick the base color. (In this case a split-complimentary wheel with a random orange as the base color.)

enter image description here

The app provides the other two colors.

Save these three colors -- In ColorSchemer you just click-drag them to the right.

Now change the wheel to Monochrome:

enter image description here

This will provide 2 tints (lighter versions) of the color. Simply click-drag these to the right as well. Double-click your second and third primary colors on the right to load those as the base for the monochrome wheel. This allows you to get tints of those colors and drag those to the right.

enter image description here

When you've got everything in the right side you can export as a .ase file for use in all Adobe applications. Or you can simply record the hex values for the list (can export as a text file if you want too).

The processes would be similar in other color tools - choose the primary colors, set the primaries as base, change to monochrome, and record numbers.

  • thanks, you can get a similar result using paletton web app. Once you get your colour scheme you can select color tables -> color list then export as LESS (for web). once exported as less you can then assign to a variable give more meaningful/memorable names - "milkshake orange" / "modal blue" etc Commented Dec 16, 2014 at 16:15
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    ColorSchemer does have a Windows version: colorschemer.com/download.php
    – mawcsco
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 15:27

Adobe Color has a very handy color scheme app, website, and integration with Adobe products. It has automatic hue sliders, and you can adjust the saturation as you said you wish to work with. This does provide rgb and hex color codes on the fly. True, you should consider which color dominates and make it work with your goals. Another option is their theme library, where you can search by name, what's popular, most used, etc.


If you use Photoshop you may try the MagicPicker color wheel. Not only you can select a wide amount of specific shades and saturation in its diamond color wheel mode, but you also can limit your color's temperature.

For example - for your couch you can select a warmer orange for the cushions and discover color relationships between other objects with the color schemes. And then fine-tune individual properties of the color. This plugin has a lot of tools for choosing the precise colors depending on your situation.

MagicPicker - the diamond mode and color temperature wheel

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