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Choosing a Color Palette and Scheme for Your Thesis Design

This is the Dog.  He sees monochrome.  Worthless animal.

A recent “Thesis Thursday” post by Asnio on keeping your Thesis PHP and CSS organized caused the Mules to consider color swatches, palettes, and blog design in general.

On Blogussion, young Alex implants his hex-value color palette as CSS comments at the top, which he then references as needed.  Not a bad idea.

He went on to note:

In your theme, you don’t want to use a lot of different colors because it can look really weird and tripped out. I find that if you create a color chart of all of the colors you use throughout your coding, you will be in some good shape.

Alex is 15 years old.  Mules consider these the pasture years.  For a human, he’s apparently rather advanced for his age.

“Lots of different colors” is indeed a common palette foul.

Just as often, it is the contrast and clash of the palette that looks, err, trippy.

While entirely superior to humans in most regards, mules are color-challenged.  We’re not sure quite how challenged, but evidence suggests “between the average Thesis designer and a chemical engineer grad student” — ouch!

Where do the Mules go for Color Palettes, Schemes, and Swatches?

We’re not proud, we asked around the barn… but good help is hard to find.

The dog is worthless unless we need “color” advice on which gray looks best — and the only cat who doesn’t flee our approach is not color blind.  She’s completely blind.  Deaf as a post, too.  Don’t say anything to the poor dear, she does her best to help our color cause.  Perhaps we’ll feature her work on an Impressionist blog.

Now your wandering minds may be on about “what the dickens does any of this have to do with my Thesis theme, site, blog, and color coordination?”

Not much, unless you are one of the aforementioned animals.

Or a human with the color instincts of Soviet housing.

Having seen any number of Thesis theme sites… a fair number of you may be color-challenged yourself.  Here we go now!

Developing a Color Scheme for your WordPress Thesis Theme Site

For those among you working on a color palette or Thesis scheme — especially if you’re convinced that shimmering pink,  electric blue, and neon lime are primary colors — there are a wheelbarrow’s envy of quality and free services online.

These color tools can create a palette from a photograph, or can create swatches of complementary colors from an initial color choice.  All you have to do is begin with a color that is not neon lime.

The alternative is to cheat.  Mules enjoy cheating.  If you bray, “cheating” rhymes with biting, kicking, and stampeding cattle.  You could cheat by using a photograph from nature.  The natural world tends to coordinate its colors nicely.  Grab a color picker tool, and get to work — our example of this kind is in the upper-right.

But proper cheating seeks to reduce work, and image color-snagging takes forever.  Graphical tablets and those ridiculous stylus pens don’t lend themselves to hooves.

Let’s cheat our color scheme properly!

Two sites in particular caught our attention, though certainly more great examples exist.  Be sure to share your favorites in the comments section so we can giggle merrily and delete your hard work with a single click.

Easy Color Palette Generation from a Single Hex Value or Uploaded Image

Color Hunter provides a free and broad range of services for your design and color palette.  Existing palettes are displayed, but for most Thesis hounds, the option to enter one hex value adds new meaning to fresh greens.  Drop in ff00ff (don’t include the # symbol) and hundreds of potential palettes spring up with swatches and hex values for your use.

That they are all a Barbie tinge results from your original hex value’s pink tendencies. Aren’t we tricky.

If you have added a banner images to your Thesis theme, but feel lost as to color choices that match it, click “upload image” in Color Hunter.  Here’s what it generated from our upload of an image we’d previously worked from in preparation for this post:

Not too shabby – and not far from what we’d selected as options from our manual “color picker” choices, which took far longer than 30 seconds to compile — and required offline software.

Slider Controls and Advanced Color Scheme Selection Tools

For more precise control and more advanced designers, the Mules are satisfied that a visit to the Web Site Tips’ Color Scheme and Palette Tools section.  Yes, it is a bit much at first blush.

Three of the links on that page are worth additional hoof tapping.

ColorMatch Remix Tool — Not unlike the Color Hunter.  The Remix loses image upload functionality.  What the Remix Tool gains is the ability to decide you like any of the 9 dynamically generated slider colors as you monkey around — click any of them, wham, you’ve got a 9-tint color palette, a screen shot of which was shown above as we teased the dog.

Bonus: one-click export as a swatch to Adobe Illustrator or a text file.

Color Blender — add two hex values, select midpoints (up to 10 results), click blend, and you’ve got up to 10 hex values that make either a complete or partial color palette.  Blending can be a good option for smaller areas of a Thesis site, such as widget formatting.  Blender output is partially shown to the right here.

Color Scheme Chooser — Even the blind cat can slide things around, but this tool earns a special mention due to its complex range of scheme options, which if you understand them, means you should be more efficient than Mules in using the Scheme Chooser… as the site explains, this tool helps create color maps for “monochromatic, analogic, complimentary, split complementary, triadic, and double contrast” palettes. And does so with 21 hex-value colors output at a whack.


Screenshot at bottom.

My Thesis Site Still has Colors that Make Foals Leap Over the Nearest Fence

Should this prove the case, or if the color palette tools and swatch and scheme options above be beyond your abilities, plunk yourself beside our blind cat, grab a ball of yarn, and hire a DoubleMule Certified Thesis Designer.


Thesis deserves colors that match the elegance of its core.

Socialist Media for Humans to Click...

1 Alex Fraiser whinnied... 06/6/2009 at 9:11 pm

Ah jeez, you just had to include the most unintelligent sounding paragraph from my post didn’t you? :p Only joking, of course, thanks for the mention in the article!

2 The Mules whinnied... 06/6/2009 at 9:21 pm

You’ll miss the joy of a misspent youth if you forget to sling slang and say “um” when typing.

Old Mules can still enjoy your color commentary. Besides, we need an outlet to awkwardly “prove” we’re on top of the vernacular.

Oh Em Gee! 😉

3 kristarella whinnied... 06/6/2009 at 10:20 pm

I recently purchased Color Schemer Studio. I find it much more convenient to have my colour schemes saved locally than on Kuler or COLOURlovers and it is really quick and nifty for playing with colours. It could use a couple more features for the price though (e.g., attaching an image link if you were inspired by a particular image)!

4 Adam Pieniazek whinnied... 07/8/2009 at 12:43 am

Love finding out about color scheme resources since it’s one of the toughest parts of web design for me, specifically nailing down colors that complement each other.

I’ll second kristarella’s recommendation for Color Schemer Studio. Downloaded it a few days ago and love it. Price is a bit steep ($30 would be a better fit for its current functionalities), but having something on my desktop where I play with new schemes and save past ones is super handy.

5 The Mules nickered back... 07/8/2009 at 1:38 am

Well humans, you heard it here from more than one top designer — Color Schemer Studio. In stores now. 😉

Thanks Adam for visiting the mule barn and sharing your thoughts… drop by anytime!

6 ajmal whinnied... 01/29/2012 at 7:52 pm

Thanks for this amazing tutorial, thank you very much for this.

The South Pasture