There's a question on this site already about choosing good color palettes when designing for color-blind users. My question is different — it's about working with colors for an audience with normal color vision.

My boss is color blind. He often wants to generate full color charts and other graphics. When he does this, the result is often comical.

I suggested that rather than selecting the colors himself, he should have some known-reasonable palettes to work from. He said, great, make me some.

I'm a sysadmin, not a designer. So, here I am. :)

How can I find good color palettes for my color-blind boss to use in charts and other color-based presentations?

In general, these should be attention-getting and able to color-code for different sometimes-opposing concepts — monochromatic color schemes are less useful. But any set of colors pulled effectively at random from the set should work well together.

Where should I look? Thanks!

  • Although the question is different, in my opinion the answer is often the same. Asking someone with CVD (color vision deficiency) to use a palette whose colors they can't tell apart puts a big cognitive load on them. They'd have to click on every object or piece of text in order to verify that they are the right colors. So I think the best option is to foster two-way communication, by using a palette that's optimized for people with CVD. I'll post a brief 'answer' to that effect.
    – Jon Coombs
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 4:40
  • Actually, I posted it here: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/67161/53541
    – Jon Coombs
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 5:49

4 Answers 4


Do you want a site (or sites) that would create a palette with complimentary colors that you can hand to him?

This site:


is one of many out there; one of the nifty things about this one is that it gives you the hex values for each color so a color-blind user can still differentiate between the various colors, even if they're close (redundancy, redundancy)

  • Yeah, a site might be good, although I'm hoping for something featuring intelligently chosen matches (whether by algorithm or by expert). That one (which I had actually come across already) just extracts a "color summary" from an image.
    – mattdm
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 18:43
  • colorschemedesigner.com allows you to select a starting color scheme based on a single color, but it tends to create very close matches (which may cause more problems for this situation). kuler.adobe.com has series of palettes put together by submitters - you may be able to find something that will work well for you there but it will probably take some time to go through and find something by hand. This sounds more like what you are looking for. Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 21:14

You should definitely check out Adobe Kuler.

It's a place where people can make and upload color schemes and palettes that match in various moods, but the best thing is it comes with a standalone application that has various tools for picking matching colors.

It might help your boss, he can choose one color then the program will pick out other colors for him based on the one he has :)


My brother is colorblind -- he sees a glass of cranberry juice and a healthy rhododendron as the same sort of anemic pale-yellow, which is something I find incredibly heartbreaking when I realize how different his experience might be. He can distinguish red and green to some extent, but in the real world he relies on contextual cue: e.g., he knows the light is green because it is the bottom of the three in a traffic light.

I believe that makes him a dichromat. This approximation of what it is like may help you:

colorblindedness vs typical vision

... Which I found on this related page.

I would suggest that instead of using off-the-shelf Made For ColorBlind™ palletes, so to speak -- have a look at what the qualitative experience of a colorblind user might be, and you'll probably be able to concoct something from that (instead of cramming someone elses' color relationships into your design).

Good luck.


ColorBrewer2.org has a terrific color picker that allows you to describe what you need and then it comes up with the colors specified for you. It's a little annoying in that it's not willing to give you imperfect answers (i.e., color combos that will work for the great majority of folks). But otherwise it's great.

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