So I’m working on my wine label and as I mentioned before I had to break out the Color-aid, which if you don’t know, is a company that paints thin layers of gouache in every hue, shade and intensity on large sheets of paper which are also available in smaller swatches (check it out here). It’s a great resource for finding color and cutting up that color to use in designs. Anyway, I put together a couple sets of swatches to use for the label, and I want to get them as exact as possible into Photoshop or Illustrator. I took a photo of the swatches on my desk just to preserve the idea at first, but then I’m on my way to the US Open the other day and start toying with an iPhone app that I had once downloaded but never used called Palettes (check it out here).
This app is amazing. I was just fooling around and found the import photo option. It opened the folder of photos from my phone prompting me to choose one, and the most recent one was of my desk and Color-aid swatches. Choosing that it then prompted me to crop the area I wanted filtered into color selections. Lo, it imports the photo, and reconfigures it into every color I laid out in the Color-aid. Now it’s magically a set of 20 colors or so in the program, I go in and delete the ones that weren’t really supposed to be in the palette from surrounding elements, and then I can adjust some of the colors to help bridge the gap between lightning/photo rendering and the actual output of specific colors. THEN, it says I can export it, by email or whatever, AS swatch files for Photoshop and Illustrator. God this thing is doing all the work for me, which is great because that means I can spend more time choosing just the right colors and less time scanning and adjusting and approximating and entering colors into swatch files.
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You can see I am now working on a stepped diamond shape as the foundation for my wine label. The building blocks are rectangular strips of color. The colors I wanted were the ones I arranged with Color-aid on my desk. I could have gone through the steps of estimating the colors, referencing my Pantone book, etc, but I instead used the swatch files that Palettes exported for me and I can easily play around with the multitude of options and get desk-to-desktop transition in no time. The label has sprung to life for me now, finally, and I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The colors are livening it up, the type has a few core directions and I’m working on the idea of a label-as-logo concept that I hope to spring on the blog next week. Grass Fire is overdue, but hopefully the wait will pay off in the quality of the design.
Good for so many things, Palettes is an application worth at least the free trial to give you a taste of its capabilities. I can easily see flipping through photos that you’ve taken or that you’ve found and envisioning the colors in the image as lovely palette for a brand. Easy as pie with this app. Even picking colors from scratch makes for an easy and intuitive experience, saving as many as you want and seeing them all in preview and expanded forms.
Color is difficult, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Any tool you can find that helps take the legwork out of organizing them redirects your brain power and time towards the quality of design and not the labor. Palettes for the iPhone is also available (and beautiful) on the iPad, and though it is not compliant with Pantone, it offers a ton of applicable outputs. GIve it a try.