How to Create Color Palettes for Jewelry Designs from YOUR Photos

I started writing the Color Canvas article for Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine in 2013. I was really excited to use photography to share color inspiration for jewelry making. At the time, there were very few ways you could create a custom color palette from a photo. I used Photoshop and clipping masks with the eyedropper tool to make my color palettes. Now there are dozens of apps available for smart phones that make creating a custom color palette a snap, and many of them are free! So, it’s easier than ever to get inspired by the colorful world around you and bring that into your studio and jewelry designs.

Feeling a bit intimidated by all the app options, though? Today I’m talking about three free apps you can use to create color palettes from your own photography to inspire your jewelry.

Kerry’s Favorite Palette Generating Apps

Palette by Vala Kohnechi

If you’re looking for a really quick way to have a palette created for you, from an image you find inspiring, this app makes it a breeze.  You have a few choices to make as you use the app. First, select whether you’d like your palette to be light, bright, or dark. Then tap the camera icon to continue and you’ll be prompted to either take a photo or use one from your camera roll. In the example below I chose an image in my photo stream from this past fall when my backyard was a riot of color. You can see the light, bright, and dark colors the app pulled from the image side by side.

Color Palettes for Jewelry Designs from YOUR Photos

Palette creates palettes instantly with colors that are light, bright, or dark.

This app does have its challenges though. There is no way to export the palette you create, so you’ll want to do a screen grab if you’d like to save the palette for later. You can’t create a custom palette either. You’re at the mercy of what the app selects as colors for you. Despite the set backs, I really enjoy seeing what this app chooses for me. It often sees colors I wouldn’t normally call out myself.

Color Cake by Emrah Kucukkaya

The Color Cake app is really fun! Unlike other apps which typically put colors into a line bar, this app creates a pie chart of your colors. Hmm, maybe they should’ve named this one Color Pie.

Using the app is very intuitive and easy to understand. You’re greeted with a bright rainbow of color on the main screen. Then you need to choose whether you’re going to take a new image (aperture icon) or choose one from your camera roll (landscape icon). Once you have your image loaded, tap areas of the screen to select various colors and watch your pie of color growing in the upper left corner. Not liking a particular color? You can tap/ hold one of the color spots and drag to a new area of the image or toss it right in the trash in the lower right corner.

Color Palettes for Jewelry Designs from YOUR Photos

Add as many or few colors as you’d like to expand your palette in Color Cake. From left to right, image one shows the screen before selecting any colors, image two shows 5 colors selected, and image three shows 7 colors selected.

Once you’re finished creating your palette, tap the palette pie to reach a screen that allows you to save or email your palette. Selecting save will store the palette on your phone, while emailing lets you send the palette off to anyone you choose.

Color Palettes for Jewelry Designs from YOUR Photos

An inspiring range of blue hues from the deck of the Bead Cruise ship in the Caribbean.

PALette by Alexander Mathers

PALette is a great app for customizing a palette from an image when you’re looking for even more control of the colors selected. There are three main tabs within the app:

  1. The first tab is where you create the palettes.
  2. Palettes tab is where your saved palettes are stored.
  3. Inspiration tab is where you can create palettes from existing images already loaded to the app.
Color Palettes for Jewelry Designs from YOUR Photos

From the main Palette tab, swipe left to access your camera and/or images to create a palette, or swipe right to access inspirational images.

To create your own palette, you simply import the image you’re using for your inspiration or take a new photo, and drag your finger (or stylus) around the screen to see the various colors appearing in that image. When you find a color you want to keep, tap the white circle and that color gets added to the color reference bar. You can add any number of colors and then click “Save Palette.”

Color Palettes for Jewelry Designs from YOUR Photos

From left to right, the first screen shows the process of creating the palette, the second shows how it appears in the saved palettes tab, and the third shows what the image looks when you’ve exported the palette. The image shown is some fun street art I discovered in the South Wedge area of Rochester, NY.

After you’ve saved your image, open the palette to see color specifications from that palette and export to use elsewhere, like email or saved to your camera roll.

Turning Palettes Into Jewelry

After you’ve created a palette from an image the possibilities are endless. Personally, I love to pull rods of glass in colors to match a picture palette and create a unique set of lampworked glass beads. You might want to use a palette to select art beads for a new necklace or bracelet. Or choose colors of anodized copper wire for a unique wire kumihimo project. Enamel colors for your next cloisonné piece might even be needed.

Need a few concrete examples of how you can convert an image to a palette and create an inspired jewelry design? Check out my Color Canvas Collection. In this collection is every Color Canvas article I wrote, excerpted from Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine, and combined into one easy reference PDF.

Need more color inspiration? Check out Beaded Colorways eBook. Even if you’re not a beader, the knowledge shared in this resource will help you with color no matter your passion.

The idea is to get out of a color rut, find inspiration in the world around you, and experiment with new combinations for fresh new jewelry designs.

Share Your Palette

We’d love to see the colorful pieces you create.  Share your Outspiration palette and jewelry using the hashtag #outspiration and tag @interweavejewelry and @interweavebeading on Instagram!

-Kerry Bogert

Editorial Director, Books



  1. Ana H at 7:12 pm November 12, 2017

    Are these apps from Apple (I didn’t see them on Google Play anywhere)? If so, can you recommend any from Google Play?

    Tickled to see the reference to the South Wedge! Didn’t know you’d been through this way. I actually used to work with a Kerry Bogart as a nurse in Rochester but think that was just a coincidence 🙂

    Thanks for any feedback you might have or suggestions for any similar apps.


  2. Kerry B at 11:06 am November 20, 2017

    Hey Annie,

    Thanks so much for your question. I’ve read good things about “Real Colors, palette generator” for Google Play as well as “Color Grab (color detection)”. I don’t have an Android device though, I haven’t tested these out. Please let me know what you think of them!

    I live in Webster, NY, so I’m in the area all the time. Never worked as a nurse though.


  3. Anne C at 7:46 am March 9, 2018

    Interesting and intriguing article. You should know, however, that Color Cake is no longer available

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