Color May Look Good in a Photograph but That Doesn’t Mean It Belongs in a Color Palette

I woke up way too early today but had a chance to sift though all my social media streams. I came across an unattractive photograph, from a high profile tweeter but I’m not going to mention them, and they posted a picture with a color palette to the side and the color palette was just so wrong! Yikes!!!

They had a photograph of a kitchen, a dated, ugly one at that, with a “color palette” on the right side, you know the color boxes that EVERYONE is doing now. Anyway, whoever pulled those colors out from the photograph just did that – they pulled any five colors from the picture without a thought of how they look together. The colors weren’t even related. The strange this is, that picture got a ridiculous amount of retweets and shares. Was I the only one that noticed the colors were wrong? Here’s what I mean.

ugly color

Here I have room that’s not the prettiest right, we can all agree on that? Now if you have a good eye you can pull a beautiful color palette from any picture but you need to have a good eye and a good picture! You can’t just pull any three colors from a picture and call it a color palette.

This color palette is not very pretty and I would cringe if I saw it in a home. This is also an excellent example of how some of those color apps just pull ANY color from a picture without hesitation as well. It’s also an example of how some people just pull 3-5 colors from a picture and call it pretty. It doesn’t work that way.

not_as_ugly

Here I pulled three colors out. Are they right? No, not really. You may be able to use the green on the right as a main wall color and one of the other two as an accent but that’s it and a stretch at that.

ok_color

Here I pulled another three colors from a different spot in the photo. Are these better? Yes but I really had to go fishing to find these three colors that look like they actually belong together.

I chose another three colors but picked red as the accent colors since it is a fairly common color in the picture. This is another choice but still one that is just not right. See the color all the way to the right? Similar to the “pinky-beige” that everyone is so afraid of.  It will coordinate if you use that red in your color palette but this is still a risky color choice.

marginal_color

See how complicated choosing color can be?  It’s not as easy as playing with apps and pulling just any color from a photo-du-jour. You have to think about your choices and more importably, like the picture.

When you’re “designing color palettes” by eye, make sure you start with a really pretty picture, one that you like a lot. Then choose the first 3-5 colors that catch your eye and then at that point, see if they look right together. If the colors look pretty in the picture then it will or should look pretty in the color palette that you pick. The key here is to start with a really nice photograph.

About Donna Frasca

I'm a Color Expert & Virtual Designer highly specialized in designing color palettes for open concepts spaces.
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6 Responses to Color May Look Good in a Photograph but That Doesn’t Mean It Belongs in a Color Palette

  1. Agreed! That original color palette was truly awful, Donna! Anyone who has ever picked paint from a fan deck and got flaming pink when they expected gentle rose, should know how important it is to hire someone who really understands color and its relationship to other colors and light!

  2. 100 % agreement from me. All of these App color toys are fun . . . but not the answer to anyone’s prayers, especially when the person is confused to begin with. It would only make matters worse!Not enough people are aware of their light sources and the effects of that in a space, or the undertones in colors that can sneak out on you! I’m a stylist/stager and appreciate the importance
    of your talents . . . especially when selling!
    Great article, Donna.

  3. Pingback: How To Choose Color From a Photograph - The Blogging Painters : The Blogging Painters

  4. Pingback: How To Choose Color From a Photograph | Blogg Göteborg

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