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What is a Color Pallet?

By Kathy R
Updated May 16, 2024
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A color pallet, also called a color palette, is a set of specific colors used in a design project. Such work can include a simple interior design project, like painting a small room, or a more complicated job, such as creating text and graphic art for websites and marketing materials. A color pallet is a common tool in many different fields involving some kind of design, like home décor, fashion merchandising, cosmetics, and print and electronic marketing.

The most common form used for a color pallet is a row of boxes. Each color needed for the design project is used as a fill color for one box. This is often helpful for ensuring color consistency, whether it be for digital color, print ink, fabric dye or another type of pigment. The colors will usually also be assigned names and numbers.

Anyone who has shopped for paint at a hardware store is likely to be familiar with manufacturers' color pallet paint cards. These are samples of different shades of similar colors, or colors that complement each other. This type of pallet can help the shopper to decide between colors and aid the person mixing the paint to recreate them.

A set of different cosmetic colors, such as lip glosses or blushes, can also be considered a color pallet. Often it will have a similar row of boxes. The difference between this and the designer's color pallet is that each cosmetic box is actually filled with makeup, in specific shades.

One of the easiest ways to create a color pallet is by using Pantone™ colors. The company develops colors known to be the design industry standard. With thousands of colors on its roster, these hues are used worldwide. Pantone™ can also make custom colors by mixing two or more stock colors.

Each season Pantone™ releases a report detailing the color pallet it believes will be the most popular. This is particularly important for people in fashion design. For example, the Spring 2009 pallet included 10 colors — dark citron, rose dust, lavender, lucite green, slate gray, palace blue, salmon rose, fuchsia red, vibrant green and super lemon. Due to the report, these colors were widely used in clothing made by designers at that time.

It is interesting to note the impact of such a pallet. For example, during that time and by using those colors, fashion designers could ensure not only that their designs coordinated with one another, but that they were considered modern. This standard can affect what people wear worldwide, especially those who purchase expensive designer or department store brands.

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