Tools for creating color schemes based on a perceptual color model?

I’ve just started reading up on color theory, and so far I’ve learned that not all complementary colors are created equal. Many people seem to use the RYB or RGB color models for creating color schemes, but after reading (and similar articles), it strikes me that using a perceptual color model, such as the 4 primary color model suggested there, or Munsell, Lab et. al. would provide more useful color combinations based on color harmony theories (please correct me if I’ve not understood this correctly).
To provide a concrete example, with an RGB color wheel the complementary color of green is purple:

but with the model sugested in that article the complementary color of green is red:

I notice that the color circle in Gimp is RGB, so I wonder if anyone knows of some nice FLOSS software for creating color schemes using a perceptual color model?



I have no idea of such tool :slight_smile: but keep us posted if you find one

I had a look at Blender and Krita too. As far as I can tell, Blender only has RGB color model options. Krita has lots of nice options for selecting colors and also lets you choose from a wide variety of color models, unfortunately, I couldn’t find tools to select color harmonies or use a different color model for the color wheels.

If it sounds useful, I can try to create something myself. As far as I can tell, sites like and use the RYB model (possibly with some tweaks), which really makes me wonder if there’s a need for it. Perhaps it would be interesting to display color harmonies for different color models side-by-side?

Did you try gpick already? It seems to to have a dedicated perceptual color cycle, but several color models and a lot of other functions.

I like the idea of the perceptual color cycle and two opposing pairs, but I’m unsure if this was ever essential for my work in scheme creation; It was more that I needed rich ways of looking at colors in several ways and gpick is a good start there.

Well spotted! It’s unclear how you are prioritising the criteria that your colours must meet - aesthetics, usability, brand image… This should influence the colours you choose, more than the colour model you use.

Although I also turn to such tools for inspiration, at the end of the day it boils down to human judgement. Colour theory is a great start, seeing what other people use in art and branding is also helpful.

Here are a couple of links to help you along.
The Colors Used by the Ten Most Popular Sites
Color Safe - beautiful, accessible colors (Open Source)

Thanks for the suggestions, Jdittrich and Sean! From what I’ve been reading, it’s quite computationally expensive to convert between a perceptual color model and one of the more common models, so I guess that explains why perceptual models are not commonly used. Apparently, OpenCV does have support for doing such conversions and perhaps there is also an open source shader which can be used. That’s also useful to understand that color harmony tools are intended primarily for inspiration and that with experience and skill you can recognize what to adjust.

Yes, thats what I use them for. Also, gpick can generate a color palette you can use in gimp or inkscape, where you can try out your colors freely to see how the combinations work in real-life-like situations.

If you have found a good color scheme, you can export the color collection and send them to others e.g. as swatches for inkscape, so they can easily use them (and are less inclined to use the “wrong” ones, that may not fit your product or so).