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Tutorial: Palette Builder

Fiona at Celtic Thistle Stitching asked if I would be willing to write a tutorial for using the Palette Builder tool for her Holiday Memories Mini Quilt Competition, and of course I was happy to oblige!

There are a lot of pictures in this post, so here is some fast navigation to the different sections.

1. Getting Started – Loading, Saving, Β Sharing, and Matching
2. Making Modifications – Increase or decrease the number of colors, change the colors
3. Common Concerns – Browser compatibility, and color choices

1. Getting Started

To get started, you first need to get to the Palette Builder page.




Once you’re there, click the Load Image button to open a file browser window that will allow you to select an image stored on your computer. Choose which image you want to make a palette with by double-clicking or pressing the Open button. Palette Builder supports .jpg, .gif, and .png files.



Palette Builder will display your selected image, along with the palette of colors it found in your image, and the list of corresponding Kona solids.



By default, the Palette Builder lists Kona solids that match each color in your palette. By using the drop-down box, you can choose to match your palette to the nearest hex values, which are used for web design.



If you want to save the image and the palette to your computer, click the Save button, and it will download the image to your computer. Depending on your browser and settings, this will either download into a default directory, or open a file browser to let you choose where to save the image.



To share the image and the palette on Flickr, press the orange Share button. From there, you will see a pop-up window that will let you choose a title and description (or accept the default). When you press the Share button in the pop-up window, the image will be uploaded to your Flickr account with the title and description you specified.



If this is your first time using the Palette Builder share feature, you will need to link the Palette Builder to your Flickr account, and give the Palette Builder permission to post the photos you create to your Flickr account. You can do this by clicking the OK, I’ll Authorize It button. You may need to scroll down to see this button. You should only need to do this once per computer.



If you want to try a different image, simply use the green Load Image button to bring up the file browser window again. Choose the image you want to use, and it will be loaded into the Palette Builder.

Making Modifications

What if you want to change the palette that the Palette Builder has suggested? No problem! There are a few ways to change the palette.



To add more colors to the palette, press the + button to the right of the palette. You can have up to 10 colors in your palette. If the + button has disappeared, you either have 10 colors in your palette, or the Palette Builder has run out of colors to suggest.



To remove a color, move your mouse over the color in the palette that you want to remove. A – button will appear. Click that, and the color will disappear from the list. You can have as little as one color in your palette.



You might have noticed the small circles overlaid on top of your image when it was loaded into the Palette Builder. Each circle corresponds to one color in your palette. If you hover over a circle, the corresponding color in the palette will get a bit bigger. Similarly, mousing over a palette color will make the corresponding circle get larger. You can move the circles around the image, and the palette color will update in real-time to reflect the new color selected in the circle. This gives you as much control over the palette colors as you would like. When you release the circle, the matched Kona solid or hex value color will update to reflect your new chosen color.



If you want to reset to the initial choices made by the Palette Builder, use the circle arrow button to the right of the displayed palette. This reverts all your changes.

Some Common Concerns


Photo by Eoin Gardiner. Used under Creative Commons license.

The colors the Palette Builder finds are really weird!

Yep, sometimes they are! Our eyes are capable of seeing color in a different way from the computer because our brain is able to interpolate a lot of things about a color. For instance, when you see something yellow in the shade, your brain is able to interpolate the color as if it weren’t in the shade (our brains are SO cool!) Sadly, the computer doesn’t have that ability (or maybe, thankfully), so instead it sees a greyish-yellowish-blueish tone which looks muddy-green in the palette builder.

Photo by Dana Moos. Used under Creative Commons license.

Why doesn’t the Palette Builder find a specific color?

If you loaded an image of a blue sky, blue ocean and a little red boat, you might expect the palette builder to find the red. And it might, depending on how similar the shades of blue are. But more likely it will return a lot of different shades of blue. Why not the red? Humans are primed to see contrasting colors, and that red pops a lot, so it seems like an obvious choice in color. However, the palette builder actually chooses colors based on how often they appear in the image. That red is just a small portion, small enough that it might not register because it appears too infrequently. Fortunately, now that you can easily drag the palette circles around, you can add that red to the palette easily yourself. Show that computer a thing or two!

I tried loading an image and nothing happens!

To load files, you need to have a fairly modern browser. Currently, Palette Builder supports the list of browsers below, with the version listed or later.

Internet Explorer: 10.0+
Firefox: 21.0+
Chrome: 27.0+
Safari: 6.0+
Opera: 15.0+

All of these are available for free! Or, you might need to update your current browser to the latest version. Try checking for the latest version of your browser here: http://browsehappy.com/

Have any other questions or concerns? Please feel free to leave a comment here, or you can fill out our feedback form.


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