Building colour palettes can take some effort but there are ways to create them more efficiently. With experience, you can get better and faster at putting together a palette that works well. It’s good to understand a little about colour theory, it will enhance your ability to select the right colours and not just select the default in Illustrator.
What I love to do is select colours from images, there are free high-resolution images online from sites like unsplash and pixels that you can download. Otherwise, take photos of your own pictures and create custom palettes that way you’d probably learn a lot more skills taking your own shots.
Eye Dropper In illustrator
Click Image To see Detail
I select an image I like that has a wide range of colours and I bring it into illustrator, literally dragging and dropping it in. Once I’ve done that I’kk use the eyedropper tool (Press i) and zoom in using the mouse wheel to find some pixels. You can select a lot of different pixels which will have a different array of colours, so keep in mind if you zoom in it will help you.
You can see all the pixels from zooming into the image, there are a lot of different shades and hues of the colours so pick ones that work nicely together
Using Dribble Images
Another way I like to find a cohesive palette it to go onto dribble and if I find an illustration I like I’ll go to the right-hand side and see the colours they use. I’ll screenshot it and save it for later or if there is a particular colour I want I’ll click on it and dribble will take you to other design using that colour. It’s a neat way to find colour palettes quickly plus you don’t need to have a profile to look at them you can have a free account.
When I’m creating custom palettes I like to pick based off colour rules for example below:
Color Guide In Illustrator
You can use whatever colours you like but I using basic colour theory techniques will help your colours work well together. I use to make palettes where the colours were too muddy and didn’t have enough contrast, tone or the right values. Keep this on hand or use illustrator inbuilt colour guide which Helps a lot.
If you go to window > colour guide then you will have access to these options. Once you select a colour you can click the drop-down menu and see the harmony rules. It will give you the exact colours schemes that will work the best for that specific colour. You can then add them to your swatches by click on the one you want and then clicking the add group button (folder icon)
Adobe Color CC
One of my favourite tools that I use is Adobe colour, If you have a creative cloud subscription then you’ll definitely have to do this. You can use the colour wheel and use the rules on the left to get the look you want. You can see I selected bright violet colour and selected shades to get lighter and darker tones of the purple.
A feature that is great with this is the add picture tool, you can see the icon I the top right of the screenshot. Once you click that select and image and it will automatically select colours on the image based on the setting you select. It’s a quick way to get colours from and image and you will get a custom look compared to pre-madee palettes. You can even move the individual sliders to select pixels on the image to create whatever colour you like.
Colours are important as a designer and the more you study the theory behind it you will not make muddy colour palettes anymore. You will better match to build your own library of colours to use for your design and illustrations.