Free online tool offers to turn photos into color palettes

This is the time of year when we get greedy. The warmth, the light, the blue water, the green leaves: Why can’t they last forever?

So when we discovered a free online tool at Color Explorer ( that offers to turn photos into color palettes to be applied, say, to the walls of your living room, we made it our mission to bring a little summer inside. The site, by the Danish Internet innovation agency, does a lot of complex stuff that only a hard-core design-fiend could fully appreciate, but finding the little photo icon labeled “Import colors from an image” on the left side of the home page is a snap, as is uploading images.

Our sun-splashed photo of three little girls eating ice cream on a bright yellow bench (you could also use an inspiration photo of a room you love, if you’re looking for a more literal living room translation) quickly resolved into three, 10 and even — gasp! — 50 colors, from buff with the faintest hint of lilac to pearly blues, acid yellows and black shot through with purple.

The three-color palettes were most practical — you could really see the roles key colors played in the photo and get a better sense of which ones sang of summer.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

To turn the colors you like into actual paints you can buy at the store, write down the final code number that appears next to each color (example: No. D8CE58). Then plug that number it into the “HTML Number Box” on the “RGB to commercial tints” page at Easy RGB (

We got options including a dreamy nautical blue and two delicious sorbet purples. The yellow was not as appealing — too olive for our purposes. But we’d probably reached the point where a trip to a brick-and-mortar paint store was called for anyway, and Color Explorer had given us a great starting point.

The site performed equally well with photos of pink ice cream and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. We have a feeling we’ll be feeding it photos long after the trees have lost their leaves and the kids have returned to school.