How to Create an Auto Color Palette in Adobe Illustrator


Designing a brand or collection of images and struggling to create a consistent color palette? In this Adobe Illustrator tutorial, we’ll explain how to create an automated color palette and then access it for future designs.

Why should you create a color palette

As a designer, creative, or just someone expressing an artistic hobby, you probably know that colors are one of the most important things when creating artwork and design. While some people like to be more expressive with their palette with absurd and unplanned color choices, it’s also important to be intentional with your palette.

If you’re designing for a brand, your color palette can make the difference in attracting the right customers for your target audience. It is therefore essential to choose the right color palette.

Maybe you want an art style where people can see your work and instantly know it’s yours. For this reason, you may choose to work with only a few selected colors. You have to pick the colors to start with, and it’s not as easy as just picking them from scratch.

How to decide which colors to use

Bird's eye view of the mood board featuring hot chili peppers, brown undertones, and black and cream looks.

You don’t want to choose your color scheme haphazardly. As mentioned earlier, an intentional choice can make all the difference to who engages in your work. The easiest way to find colors that work together is to research and create moodboards.


We suggest using pinterest to help with this. You can easily search for competitors and/or artists with similar styles to yours, or take inspiration from images completely separate from your creative project.

In addition to virtually collecting images online, we suggest taking nature photos and taking notes on how certain colors or styles make you feel and why you use or interact with those works.

Whether you’re creating a digital mood board with Pinterest or creating a traditional mood board of collected paper samples and images, this is sure to be the critical start to finding your chosen color palette. .

Related: Apps for finding the best color schemes, matches, and palettes

How to Create a Color Palette in Adobe Illustrator

Once you’ve created a mood board, you should have an idea of ​​the types of colors you can use in your color scheme. To create a color palette, you need to find a main color in your mood board. This can be the most visible color of your choices, or just the one that best suits your brand.

In Adobe Illustrator, open your digital mood board and use the Eyedropper Tool to sample the chosen main color. It doesn’t have to be a bold color or one that stands out from the other colors in your mood board; it could just be the color you want to highlight in your future designs or branding. You can also use the mood board just for inspiration and open your color wheel to find a color that suits the collection of images you’ve created.

Open a new artboard. By using the Ellipse Tool (L) or the Rectangle Tool (M) Create a circle or rectangle on one side of the artboard in the color of your choice. Then, on the other side of the work surface, create another circle or rectangle in the darkest or lightest shade of your mood board. To have a more eccentric color palette, then opt for a shade quite opposite to the shade of your first color.

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<p>After placing your two color swatches, select them both using the <strong>Selection tool</strong> (V) while holding down the Shift key on your keyboard.  Once selected click <strong>Object > Merge > Create</strong>.</p>
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<p>    You will notice that this creates a gradient from your first color to the last color.  By clicking in <strong>Merge Options</strong> in the <strong>Properties</strong> panel or by clicking <strong>Object > Blend > Blend Options</strong>you can test the number of color steps between the first and last swatch.</p>
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<p>At this point, you can only select objects mixed together as one.  You can edit the gradient as one, but currently you cannot select a swatch individually.  To separate them from each other while retaining their individual colors, click <strong>Object > Merge > Expand</strong>.  By clicking <strong>Object > Merge > Release</strong> instead will return your gradient swatches to their original two.</p>
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Adobe Illustrator color palette with red tints.

To further release these samples, simply right-click and click Ungroup. Take about 4-6 of the best swatches from the selection and turn them into your final color scheme. Having created this palette using Illustrator’s blending mode ensures that all the colors blend together cohesively.

Gradient color palette with red to green tints.

If you want to create a color palette using two colors that don’t seem related to each other, that’s still an option. Gradient blending mode lets you find intermediate shades that won’t look out of place with your two main choices, allowing you to quickly create a cohesive color palette.

How to Access Your Color Palette in Illustrator

Once you’ve created your final color palette in Adobe Illustrator, you’ll want to save the palette for future use. There are several ways to do this and your choice may depend on the programs in which you will use your color scheme later.

Adobe color

If you continue to use Adobe Creative Cloud, you can install your palette on Adobe color, which allows you to access the palette in any other Adobe software. Simply sign in to Adobe Color using your Creative Cloud credentials to save your palette to all Adobe programs.

Screenshot of the Adobe.Color website.

Once you have Adobe Color open, click Create > Custom. Once on the custom setting, you can change the individual color codes for each swatch by copying the hex codes from Illustrator. Once your palette is complete, click To safeguard.

Adobe Illustrator Screenshot of saved color palette

You can then open any Adobe program or return to Illustrator to view and access your saved palette. Click on Window > Libraries and find the library where you previously saved your palette. Once open, right-click on the chosen palette and click Add a theme to swatches. Now your new palette will be in your Swatches panel, so you can easily access it for future use.


Screenshot of Canva showing its color scheme

To use your color palette in a non-Adobe program such as Cloth requires a similar set of steps.

If you’re using the free version of Canva, you’ll probably need to enter your palette’s hex codes each time you open Canva. Keep a saved version of your final color palette as an image so you always have access to remove hex codes.

If you use Canva Pro, you can save the color palette under the Brand Kit in your Canva account. This means that you only have to enter the hex codes once, and they will always be available each time you log into your account.

Related: How to Personalize Your Personal Social Media Accounts

You can now create an auto-filled color palette

This new skill will save you time and frustration and will ensure that all the colors you use in your palette harmonize with each other.

By creating the palette in Adobe Illustrator, you will have easy access to the entire Adobe suite and your color palette can easily be imported into other creative software.

Your workflow will seem so much smoother now that you won’t have to spend time thinking about a consistent color palette for every project.

How to Create a Custom Color Palette in Adobe Photoshop

Here’s how to create a custom color palette in Adobe Photoshop if you don’t like Photoshop’s default color swatches.

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