I’m not sure what it is about color that is so enticing. Maybe I’m just an old school Kodachrome girl. There’s something about rich, vibrant, slightly over-saturated colors that turn me on.
Ansel Adams? Not so much. I work in PR and make presentations all the time so I’ve collected a number of handy dandy, A-No:1, triple distilled color tools for my Mac. Some people collect dolls or hats or shoes. I collect stuff on my Mac.
Color, Color, Everywhere
Today’s Mac LED/LCD screens are to die for if you have a color fetish. Adam Lambert or his idol Liberace could never be this bright, vivacious, and colorfully effervescent. Apple gives Mac users a few color tools but the good ones you have to find on the streets.
What got me to thinking about color today was yet another color picker named Color Picker.
It’s decent but limited. My most recent scratched itch comes in the form of Swatch—a Menubar tool that lets you grab a color from anywhere on the Mac’s screen, save it and use it later.
Color swatches need to be handy, need to float over other apps, and need to save swatches for use again in a few minutes or a few months. I tried Tangerine a few years ago. It had great promise and I used it awhile, but there are issues with Snow Leopard so I’m back to my trustworthy color tools.
If you don’t like expensive or complicated then Color Converter is a good choice. CC converts colors to and from various modes. For example, a PNG file in RGB mode to a TIFF file in CMYK mode. Color Converter uses the same ICC color profiiles that are used in Apple’s ColorSync utility.
It’s simple to use, comes cross platform, and remains handy despite similar functions in other color tools.
Color Picker Pro
Another function that is a must have for those of use with color issues and a therapist who understands, is the ability to drag and drop colors to whatever app we’re using at the time.
Color Picker Pro does that. It captures in hex, RGB, and HSL values which are used in most of my presentations and on the web in HTML and CSS. Pick the color you want from wherever, store it, drag and drop into whatever app you’re using.
This one is a bit pricey for what it does, but what it does (grab, store, drag and drop) it does well.
Most Mac users don’t do much painting anymore, but Painter’s Picker adds a few functions to the Mac’s built-in color picker.
By embedding itself into your Mac’s color picker, Painter’s Picker shows up in nearly every Mac app. It’s handy. Choose related colors with ease, from complementary colors to analogous colors, and change the brightness, hue, and saturation.
It’s like having a little paint store paint mixer in your Mac. Create and store swatches and see how specific color combinations look before using.
Shades Color Picker
See? The term color picker is everywhere. In this case, like Painter’s Picker, Shades fits in the Mac’s color picker and gives you shading options in the standard Hue, Saturation, Brightness (HSB) routine to get either hex or RGB for shades on an adjustable grid.
Set the grid to 5×5 or 7×7 or 9×9 or whatever, select the color, and get slightly darker or lighter shades of your color. The original color remains in the center of the grid while lighter and darker shades fan out. Shades is very handy when you need gradations from one color to another.
The next two color apps are my absolute favs.
Color Consultant Pro
This handy tool has been around a number of years and provides more color options than any tool I own. Color Consultant Pro is a color wheel that interacts with your color choices to give you options and themes.
CCP does more than a simple color wheel. It supports for Artistic and Scientific color systems, and has a superb display for Analogous, Complementary, Split Complementary, Monochromatic, Tetradic, and Triadic color schemes.
Colors can be sampled on screen, stored, and applied to the color wheel which is interactive. Select the angle, saturation, values and get instant results as key color properties in RGB, HSB, CYMK or hex.
If you’re deep into color, this is the one to have.
ColorSchemer Studio 2
Similar, but not so complex, is ColorSchemer Studio 2, a true color matching app that builds and stores color schemes even faster than CCP.
There’s a standard color wheel for color harmonies (it spins). CSS2 also gives you access to over one million pre-made color schemes in the COLOURlovers community. You don’t even have to think to get good color schemes. Find one you like and use it.
Another handy feature is the ability to pull a palette of colors from photos. Select the photo, and CSS2 pulls the basic color scheme which you can save and use in other apps. Mixing and matching color blends is another killer feature, as is the ability to find similar or related colors. What I especially like is the Preview on Layouts feature which is great for presentations.
Depending on your color needs and desires, you won’t go wrong with any of these add ons that extend color options beyond what Apple provides, indeed, CSS2 and CCP even compete with the color tools in Photoshop.