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How to use Kuler for Color Palettes
By Jason McConnell on Jul, 20 2014

Adobe Kuler (now named Adobe Color) is a really fun (and free) color theme app from Adobe, that allows you to create color palettes that can be shared and synced to your Adobe apps including Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign.

Kuler can be found from your browser at Kuler.Adobe.com or from the Apple App Store for your iOS devices (sorry Android users).

This is a great way for designers to develop color themes and easily sync them to your computer or share them with others.

In this blog ill cover how to use Kuler online and Kuler iOS apps, create palettes, and then load your new palettes into Adobe apps.

Kuler palettes


Step 1: Open up Kuler in your browser

Open a browser and go to http://kuler.adobe.com.

Adobe Kuler Online

Click on Sign In in the upper right corner and sign in with your AdobeID. If you don’t have an AdobeID you will need to create one to be able to download the palettes you create.

Sign in to Adobe

Once signed in we are ready to dive right into creating our color stories


Step 2: Create a palette from a color wheel

When you first launch kuler.adobe.com you will see a color wheel in the center of your browser that has 5 color selectors which correspond to color chips below the color wheel.

Signed in to adobe.com

Move one of the color selectors and it’ll change the color chips accordingly, depending on which Color Rule you have selected on the left side of the window.

Move the color selectors to change colors

Color Rules (like Color Harmony’s in Illustrator) are based on the Base Color of your palette, which by default is the center Color Chip.

I changed my rule to Compound and it used the Red chip as the base and adjusted the other 4 colors according to the Compound Color Rule.

Change the Color Rules

To change the Base Color, hover over one of the other chips and click on the triangle that shows up on the bottom.

Once the new Base Color is selected then the other colors will adjust according to the Color Rule selected.

Change the Base Color

To pick your own colors without the Color Rules, choose Custom from the Color Rules drop down and now you can change all of the colors independently.

Color Rules

Lastly you can fine tune your colors by adjusting the color sliders below the color chips. Choose from RGB, CMYK, LAB, HSB and HEX color sliders.

Adjust color sliders

When finished go ahead and give your palette a name by clicking on the Pencil icon to the left of the color wheel.

Name your palette

Click on Save and you’ll save the palette to your Creative Cloud Account.

Saved color palette

From here on the right side under Actions you can Share, Download, Edit or Delete the palette. We’ll cover that more later.


Step 3: Create a palette from an Image

To create a palette from an image, go back to https://kuler.adobe.com/ and click on the Camera icon on the right hand side.

Choose an image for Kuler

Select a Tiff, Jpeg, PNG or Gif file (PSD, Ai and PDF will not work) then click OK.

Pick an image then press OK

Kuler will automatically pick 5 colors from your image for its palette based on the Color Mood options on the left side.

Kuler picked 5 colors from the image

Scroll through the different Color Moods to see if you like any of them better. They are a bit different than Color Rules for when you are picking from the Color Wheel.

Color moods

To pick your own colors, click and drag the color selectors on the image around to the area of the image that you want. A little magnified view bubble will pop up to help you pick the right spot.

Magnified view bubble makes it easier to pin point your colors

If you want to adjust a color more precisely with color sliders, then click on the Color Wheel icon on the right side of the page where the Camera icon was before.

Here you’ll see a color wheel as well as color slider controls below each color, where you can fine tune your colors.

Fine tune your colors using the color wheel

Choose the color sliders that you prefer (CMYK, RGB, LAB, HSB or HEX) and adjust the colors.

Adjust the colors using color sliders

If you would like to rearrange the order of your colors just drag your color chips into the position that you want. I rearranged the color squares from Orange to Teal in my example.

Rearrange the color chips

Give your palette a name (I called mine Easy Breezy) and click on Save and it will save your palette to your account.

Give your palette a name


Step 4: Share and download your palette

Now we are all set to download and share our palettes. On the right side under Actions you will be able to Share your palette on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Adobe.

You can also Download it to your computer as an .ase file to manually load it in your adobe apps. Go ahead and choose download if you like and ill cover loading the palettes later.

If you ever need to edit your palette you can also click Edit from here or even Delete the palette if you no longer want it.

Saved palettes can be shared, downloaded, edited and deleted


Step 5: Explore palettes others have created

Sometimes you just want to browse color themes that others have created and you can do that by clicking Explore at the top of the Kuler.adobe.com page.

This is a great feature because you can pull up color themes that others have created and download them or edit them the way you like.

The explore tab with color themes others have created


Step 6: Check out your Color Themes

You can check out all of the themes you have created by clicking on My Themes. This is where you’ll go to download your themes, edit themes or even delete themes.

My Themes window


Step 7: Kuler on Mobile devices (Apple only)

If this wasnt cool enough you can use Kuler on the go with your iPhone, iPad or iPod. Go here to check out the Adobe Kuler iOS app info.

Much like Kuler online, Kuler on your phone is very intuitive and you have even more options for picking color themes on your mobile devices.

When you first launch Kuler on mobile you jump right into creating color themes using your devices camera preview. As you move your phone the color chips change. Click on the check box at the bottom and it’ll save that theme.

Kuler iPhone pic1

You can also snap a picture or choose a picture from your camera roll or Flickr by clicking on the Camera icon on the bottom right. I find it a little easier to get a good theme from the start by working from a still image. You can select from different color moods just like online too.

Kuler on iPhone pick from photo library Kuler for iPhone choose Color Mood

Once you create a theme select it from the list and you can Edit, change the name and tag info, share it through Twitter, Facebook, or email or delete the color theme.

kuler color theme options 1Kuler color theme options 2Kuler color them options 3

Editing your themes is really easy. Click on one of the 5 color chips at the top and then adjust the color sliders or punch in the RGB or HEX values or select from a color wheel. There are Color Rule options from the bottom right corner.

Kuler color editing 1Kuler editing 2kuler editing 3 color wheel

Sign in from the gear box in the upper right corner and it will sync your palettes to the cloud and allow you to share your palettes too.


Step 8: Load your palettes in Illustrator

If you have the new Illustrator CC you will find the Kuler panel under Window / Kuler. (If you have an older version dont worry, I cover loading palettes for older versions below).

Make sure you are connected to the Creative Cloud and Kuler will automatically download the palettes you made online.

Kuler panel Illustrator CC

If you edit your palettes online or add new palettes, just click on the Refresh icon at the bottom of the Kuler panel and it will automatically sync up any palettes that you created on kuler.adobe.com. Its magic!

Synced Kuler panel shows new palettes

Now you can choose colors from the Kuler panel or drag them into your documents’ Swatches panel.

Another tip is you can go directly to the kuler website by clicking on the Launch Kuler Website icon at the bottom of the Kuler panel.

Even though Illustrator CS5 and CS6 had Kuler panels (Window / Extensions / Kuler) you can’t sync your palettes like you can in Illustrator CC.

To load the palettes the old fashioned way go to Window / Swatch Libraries / Other Libraries and navigate to the color palette file that you downloaded earlier (with a .ase extension).

Your palette will now show up in its own Panel where you can pick the colors.

Load swatch libraries

Load the .ase palette that you downloaded before

Opened swatch library from Kuler palette


Step 9: Load your palettes in Photoshop

Photoshop CC (2014) now has a Kuler panel but you have to download it as an Add on. Make sure to upgrade to the latest Photoshop CC (2014) and Creative Cloud App and go to Help / Browse Add-Ons…

Go to Photoshop Add ons from the Help Menu

From there search for Kuler and you’ll find Kuler Panel PS CC 2014. Click the Free button to download and install the Kuler panel.

Download the free Photoshop Kuler panel

Kuler Add on acquired

You can double check that it was downloaded from your Creative Cloud Apps Home tab as seen here:

Verify the Kuler add on was installed from the Creative Cloud App

To open the Kuler panel go to Window / Extensions / Adobe Kuler.

Open the Kuler panel

The new Photoshop CC Kuler panel is really intuitive, here are a few screen shots from the tabs of the panel:

Photoshop Kuler Panel layout

If you do not have Photoshop CC (2014) you can load the palettes the old fashioned way.

Click on the Swatches panel drop down menu and choose Load Swatches… Choose your downloaded color palette and hit OK and Voila! You now have access to your new palette colors.

Load swatches in Photoshop

Load the .ase palette that you downloaded before

Palettes loaded into the Swatches Panel


Step 10: Load Palettes in InDesign

From the Swatches panel options menu in InDesign choose Load Swatches… Navigate to the downloaded swatch library and click ok and now you have your swatches in InDesign as well.

Load swatches into InDesign

Load the .ase palette that you downloaded before

Swatches loaded into InDesign


That’s all for this tutorial I hope you all have fun with this great tool and please share with friends!
J