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Is there any easy way to expand a pallette to include additional colors that match/compliment the current scheme?

In the process of creating some design guidelines for my new nonprofit for application across all mediums (website, print materials, Web ads, newsletter etc). However, our current 2 primary, 1 contrasting colors (and various shades/tints thereof) are quite limiting.

What would be the best way to add another color to the scheme and feel confident that it 'works' with the others? Is there some trick (like similar ratios in rgb or hsl) that I can take advantage of?

No formal color theory education minus the same basic articles on 20 different sites about the various color wheels.

  • Hi Dovid, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question. If you want to know more about the site, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site! – Vincent Jul 21 '15 at 11:55
  • Maybe have a look at Adobe Kuler: color.adobe.com You can enter your colors and see what other colors could match, depending on the "color rule" you choose. You can also "explore" some themes that were created, maybe you'll find something close to what you already have or get inspired. Kuler would be the "mathematical" way of finding complementary colors, but from there you can use your instinct too by using what Adobe suggests as colors and choose what seems to be the best fit. – go-junta Jul 30 '15 at 7:16
  • Sadly, Kuler doesnt really help with what I'm trying to do. It has no problem suggesting me colors to match one primary one, but I have several colors in my theme - im looking for a suggestion that takes multiple colors int account – Dovid Levine Jul 31 '15 at 9:30
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I have no color training, but the Color Scheme Designer has helped me several times in the past. I looked it up for you, is now called paletton.com and seems to be free, which is good for nonprofits.

I am not affiliated in any way, just a happy user.

You can click on the tetrad (4 color scheme) and enter your two-plus-one existing colors. Now you will see a resonable default-proposal for a new, third color. Do not miss to look at the examples-tab, to see what it might mean for your website.

Once you get the hang of this tool, you can go to the free-style scheme and use shift-drag to fine-tune your new color (while looking at previews!).

If you are interested in a little theory, I found the older website at: http://colorschemedesigner.com/csd-3.5/

Here go to help and activate tooltips, then hover over the major color schemes (like mono or tetrad) to read some text on what it does to the perception and to the feelings of the users...

If you find those tooltips on the new website, I would like to hear about it.


Sorry about the limitation on web-only. When I needed our non-profit stuff prepared for print on paper, I received some very friendly help from these pros: http://www.dtpstudio.de/english/index.html


And one last link (I might get spam-filtered) with more theory because of "the transfer of digital images to print": http://www.poynton.com/ColorFAQ.html


I also learnt some more about colors (and how they behave, coming from screen and web and expanding towards pring) while using the program Scribus (which is also free, and very much meant to produce print-ready output).

Just activating Color Management in Scribus and looking for (importing) professional color palettes (open Scribus but have no document open, then go > Edit > Colors... > Import) and then using Color Management to simulate paper-results on my screen has been really helpful.

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