How to make custom color palettes

Color palettes are great tools to use when making a digital collage. Referring back to a selection of colors makes it easier to find image elements that coordinate well together– keeping the entire piece looking like one intentional artwork rather than a collection of random images stuck together. Using harmonious colors keeps my entire collage harmonious as well!

I don’t always strictly stick with a color palette (as seen in some of my “collage with me” videos), but they’re handy to have. If you struggle with completing a page because you can’t figure out a color scheme or color theme, try using a custom color palette!

Making a personalized color palette is very easy, and it doesn’t take long at all! You don’t necessarily need to know anything about color theory either, just have a decent eye for what colors look good together.

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How to make a custom color palette

Start with a Color Palette Template

Before you do anything, get a template to put your color palette on.

Canva has several pre-made color palette templates available, or you can make your own using pre-made shapes.

A template will help you keep track of colors as you select them, and you can see how they all look together as a group. To use the template, click on each color and change it to your selection. Then edit the text to put your own hex code and color name (more on those later).

Choose a starting color

You need somewhere to start off with, and usually that means one starting color.

Every color palette starts with an idea.

I usually create my color palettes around a particular concept or theme, one that I want to use in my collage. Often this’ll bring up a few strong color ideas as well. The monthly inspiration posts have coordinating color palettes themed around that month’s birthstone, for instance.

Another good idea is to pick a specific color from your focus image. You can do this using Canva’s color picker tool in the color menu.

However you do it, decide on your first color. This will be your focus color. It can be as simple as “purple”– just choose one to start with. There’s no wrong choices!

Get a hex code

Now you need to get a hex code for your focus color.

A hex code is the computer’s way of visualizing a specific color, kind of a shorthand way of saying “this specific purple in this specific shade.” Having the right hex code for your palette will make it much easier to use on your image editing software later on. Canva, for instance, lets you put exact hex code into the color menu which means you’ll get exactly the right color.

Hex codes always start with a hashtag/pound symbol, like this: #

To find your color’s hex code, visit a website like Use the search bar at the top of the site and type in your focus color’s name, e.g. “purple.” If you want to get fancy with it, you could try “dark purple” or even “plum” and see if something shows up.

(If you used Canva’s color picker to select an image, the hex code will be in the color menu. Easy-peasy!)

This will pull up one example of a color’s with a corresponding hex code. You can just use that one if you want, but you can also scroll down a bit and check out the shades and tints for that specific color. Clicking on those colors will bring you to their page, where you can explore further for more options.

Add your first color to your color palette template by clicking on the color shape and entering the hex code into Canva’s color picker menu. Be sure to edit the text to add in the same hex code so you have a reference for it later.

Find a coordinating color or three

Next, find at least two coordinating colors.

On there’s a section for corresponding colors, including a few color swatches. These can be good for finding color options quickly, especially if you want to stick with the same color intensity.

Generally, I try to select colors with the same “tones”– so I wouldn’t pick two jewel tone colors and then three pastels, for instance.

If you’re really stuck for ideas, another option is using Canva’s color wheel generator. Enter the hex code for your focus color and then select a color combination option.

Be sure to add each color and its hex code to your palette template so you can refer back to it later.

Keep filling out your palette until all five (or more) colors are filled in…and voila! A custom color palette just for you. Be sure to download your completed palette and then upload it into your Canva account to use in your collage later.

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