5 Tips for Choosing the Right Color Palette

JAN 6, 2020 updated Jun 7, 2021

Have you been following along with our Doodle-a-Day challenge this month on Instagram? We are so excited to partner with Spoonflower designer Ello Lovey to bring you 31 unique design prompts to channel your happy place to help you ring in the new year and brush off your design tools after a busy holiday season. 

If you’re like us and find yourself endlessly scrolling through Rhianna’s Instagram feed, then you’re no stranger to her color palette prowess. Whether it’s for a design in her Spoonflower shop, a palette for her month-long doodling challenges or a card she crafted for her Etsy shop, Rhianna has mastered the art of picking the perfect palette. But how does she do it? Rhianna is back on the blog to reveal her secrets to help you get started.

1. Have a Color Palette Party on Pinterest

I like to keep a color palette board on Pinterest where I collect colorful images that appeal to me from all creative fields—graphic design, fashion, interior design, etc.

I take screenshots of a few of those images and then bring them into Procreate (or your preferred editing software). I sample the colors I like and turn them into swatches and tweak and refine them by playing around with them side-by-side seeing how they contrast with one another. I like to have a few light colors, a few medium colors and at least one dark color for contrast.

2. Express Yourself

Choosing my monthly Doodle-a-Day color palettes depends on my mood. I try to pick a color palette that expresses how I’m feeling, whether it’s bright and playful, dark and moody, or somewhere in the middle. I reference my color palette board on Pinterest and choose a few images that reflect that, then create my color swatches using the steps I mentioned above.

Rhianna’s November Doodle-a-Day palette included deep shades of brown and orange.

For January’s palette, I’ve chosen a somewhat cooler palette of blues, purples, and greens for the Self Care-themed prompts. I wanted a calming color palette to reflect relaxation and peace. 

3. Keep It Cohesive

The biggest benefit of designing a collection in the same color palette is cohesiveness. A great color palette ties everything together, even if the subject matter of each design is quite different. Having the same color palette is great for a fabric collection because you can easily mix and match designs and they will still work well together. It also opens up room for creative and unexpected images because it forces you to work with what you’ve chosen, and you might choose colors for an image that you wouldn’t naturally pick. Having the same color palette also takes some pressure off of coming up with a new palette for each image, so you can just focus on the subject matter of your designs.

Rhianna’s Spring/Summer collection featured a cohesive color palette

September’s Doodle-a-Day palette

4. Go Where Your Eyes Take You

I would keep a collection of images in which you’re drawn to the colors. That might be a Pinterest board or a folder on your computer, phone or iPad with inspiring images or color combinations that you like. I also recommend doing a search for “color palettes” on your preferred internet browser. Experiment and play around with colors by drawing/painting with them and seeing how they look together.

5. Show Your APPreciation

I recently started using the Pantone color app and it’s so much fun! You can use your own images to sample actual Pantone colors from, or explore inspiring color forward photos right on the app! The app creates Pantone color swatches from the images which is so helpful when designing for print because you know your colors will be consistent. It has helped me come up with color combinations I never would have thought of trying. It makes the process of choosing color swatches so easy! You can also keep up with current color trends on the app.

Pantone Studio helps you easily create color palettes from existing images. Photos by IXXI Loco Wink, Jacqueline Colley, Pantone and Rhianna Wurman.

Now that you have Rhianna’s top tips for creating cohesive color palettes, join us over on Instagram for January’s Doodle-a-Day challenge. Whether you doodle for just five minutes or five hours, everyone’s invited!


About the Guest Author

Rhianna Wurman is the owner and illustrator of paper goods company Ello Lovey and the Doodle-A-Day host on Instagram. Her colorful greeting cards and art prints celebrate the whimsy and simplicity of the everyday. When Rhianna isn’t designing, she can be found hiking with her husband in the mountains of Asheville, NC. Follow along with Rhianna’s illustrations and Doodle-A-Day challenges over on her Instagram feed @ellolovey!

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  • Love this tips for color palettes. I am trying to refine my palettes and create more cohesive colors for 2020. I am looking forwarding to incorporating these suggestions.