Colors by Theme

Posted on February 22, 2011 by Brian Jaress
Tags: reference, code

It’s easy to find lists of colors for use on a computer screen, but they’re usually organized by name, by number, or not at all. I personally find it much more useful when colors are organized by theme.

What do I mean by “theme”? Really, any sort of abstract connection between the colors. For example, you could put all the colors that (are supposed to) look like metals together, or all the festive colors together.

I’ve put together a collection of links to other sites where colors are organized by theme. Updates and additions are welcome at

Keyword color search at COLOURlovers. These people love colors enough to tag them with descriptive keywords, allowing you to search for things like “wood” or “happy.”

Search by image at the Geoff Peters Trio site. Another search, but this one finds images on the Internet connected to your search term, then it extracts colors from those images (and looks up the color names, a nice touch). The author has a list of example searches, including ocean and city sidewalk. I was also pleased with the results for desert.

“Neutral colors” (a.k.a. light colors) at Somacon. Interestingly, this list is based on scans of paint swatches. It’s stuck on the same page as an ordinary un-themed color list, but you can just ignore that.

Colors grouped by shade, starting with shades of white, at Wikipedia. This is part of Wikipedia’s color page, listing every color with it’s own page on Wikipedia.

Colors grouped by color, starting with Whites/Pastels, at Taylored Marketing. No mention of where they got these colors.

Colors with popular names at xkcd. This is based on a poll, where people were shown computer-generated colors and asked to name them. The names shown are the answers most frequently given, and the colors are averages of the shades that people were looking at. There’s also an interesting article with deeper analysis.