Useful apps for fashion designers : colour apps

Jo Hughesfashion design, mobile apps

Colour apps


Price: $7.99 Android / $9.99 IOS
For Android: Yes
For IOS: Yes

Okay so this one won’t really come as a surprise but as Pantone is The standard when it comes to colour standards in fashion and apparel it had to be included in our list. And anyway we thought we’d ease you in gently with something predictable.

Despite the fact that the onscreen representation is unlikely to match the Pantone publication colour, it does allow you to have access to a variety of Pantone libraries in your pocket and on the go, including the new Pantone Plus Series, for a minimal cost. You can browse through the libraries to select colours or can extract them from images and photographs, the extraction providing you with the closet Pantone colour.

The interface is smart and intuitive and easy to browse through the vast amount of colours. Once you’ve created a palette there’s a nifty tool to email it to colleagues. Layout mode provides a variety of different backdrops to ‘pin’ swatches on which helps visually organise and experiment with the colours.

Being available for both IOS and Android, it doesn’t discriminate (apart from the price, but Apple Aficionados are well used to that anyway). So all in all, a bit of a “no-brainer” for any fashion designer, regardless of your weapon of choice.



Price: Free (basic), £1.93 (pro)
For Android: Yes
For IOS: No

This is a nifty ‘point and shoot’ colour palette generator. Using your phone’s camera lens, the app allows you to point at any colour, generate a palette of complimentary colours and then save the palette. Select from analogs, complements, triads and dominate scene colours to be auto-generated around your chosen colour. There are also a number of different lighting settings to change the input of the colour into the lens. Once you have saved your palette you can view the colour names, HSV, RBG, Hexidecimal and RAL numbers but alas, no Pantone. If you want to go pro and fork out all of £1.93 then additional features include direct export in Adobe applications via Adobe Swatch Exchange and most utterly randomly auto-coloured robots using your colour palette. Yes you did read that correctly. Robots.


Real Colors

Price: Free (basic), £2.54 (pro)
For Android: Yes
For IOS: Yes

Another palette generator but with a slightly different approach. Real Colors allows you to either select an existing image from your device’s gallery folders i.e. a photo or screen shot, or to take a new photo and in 3 – 15 seconds the app generates a colour scheme using a unique algorithm, then highlights the dominant colours as 5 colour chips. Clicking on the colour chip displays the hexadecimal, RGB and HSB values. Sliders allow you to tweak each colour. In the pro version you can switch between different colour theory rules such as complementary and monochromatic and also export colour palettes to Adobe Swatch Exchange.

Like with SwatchMatic, there’s no Pantone as the app is more geared towards web design.


Palettes Pro
Palettes Pro

Palettes Pro

Price: Free (basic), £2.49 (pro)
For Android: No
For IOS: Yes

Palettes / Palettes Pro allows you to create a palette from a web site, image, camera, or colour scheme. There are 3 user levels, free, basic and pro. Unfortunately most of the functionality only exists in the pro version – free only allows you to save 3 palettes of 5 colours and basic has unlimited palettes but restricted to 5 colours. The pro palette offers you up to 25 colours in a palette.

All versions support RGB, HSV (HSB), HSL, CMYK, or Gray scale sliders. If you want additional features such as colour schemes i.e. complementary, tria, or exporting palettes to Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator you’ll need to go pro.



Okay, this one isn’t strictly an app and it isn’t strictly available but it has the potential to be a game changer in mobile colour so it had to be included in the list.

So what is it then? Nix is a colour sensor that allows you to scan any colour, which you can then feed into your smartphone/tablet (Nix app). What makes it different to just using your device’s camera? Well as anyone that knows colour knows, it is a fickle beast and can appear completely different under certain lighting. What Nix does is it blocks out all ambient lighting so the true shade of the colour can be captured, with the device being calibrated to display exact colour values.

Nix is still in the prototyping stage and when it does hit the shelves in early 2014 it is estimated to retail at $199. However, it could prove to be an invaluable tool as other colour apps range from gimmicky to useful for inspiration only but no other device/app can provide a true colour representation for fashion designers on the go.

If you want to help speed up the launch, then head over to Kickstarter to add you support to the project.

Jo Hughes on sablinkedin
Jo Hughes
With a background in fashion design, Jo has worked with many international retail and apparel companies, implementing solutions to help them work more efficiently to develop products.

She has a detailed understanding of the apparel product development process and the supporting systems including PLM, PDM, CAD and 3D garment design.