Free Color Palettes: What’s the Catch?

Carmel Blue Fuchsia color palette at

Yes, color-loving folks, I’m going to let you in on a secret: The color palettes you see in the new Colormusing shop are actually available to you for free. When I create them I usually start on one of my favorite websites, (You’ll find me there as — what else? — Colormusing.)

At ColourLovers, you’re able to download palettes, individual colors, and more, for your own use. Free.

Carmel Blue Fuchsia palette at ColourLovers
Carmel Blue Fuchsia palette (by colormusing), free at ColourLovers. (Click the palette to see it at ColourLovers.)

Carmel Blue Fuchsia color palette at
Carmel Blue Fuchsia color palette at (Click the palette to see it at Colormusing.) Is there really any difference?

What’s the catch?

  1. Files only download in 1 file format: PNG.
  2. While they do offer you a range of sizes to download (from Preview and iPhone to the size of your screen), what you’ll get is 72 dpi resolution. Meaning not even close to good print quality.
  3. Commercial use is not allowed. So you can, for example, use a palette as a background on your personal blog, but you can’t incorporate anything downloaded from ColourLovers into your company’s website design.
  4. You must give credit to the designer of the file you download.

Bottom line: There are not only legal restrictions on the use of these free downloads, you’ll also be fairly limited in how you can use them design-wise, e.g. they won’t be suitable for printed projects.

I do want to point out, though, the differences when you choose to pay for palettes in the Colormusing shop:

  1. Each download is a .zip file which, when unzipped, contains not only a high-quality JPEG version of the palette, but also a Photoshop (PSD) file with a total of 12 layers— a white background layer, a layer with the complete palette, a separate layer for each of the 5 color panels, and a separate text layer for each color, with the CMYK and hex # values already figured out for you!
  2. These files are each 1200 x 800 pixels in size, and 150 ppi resolution— print quality for most applications. (This is the resolution I use to have custom fabric printed at Spoonflower, and p.s. they do gift wrap and wallpaper too!)
  3. Colormusing’s palettes are linked to products we’ve either created from those palettes, or from which we derived those palettes. (Sort of chicken or the egg, but the point is, all CM’s things are interconnected.)
  4. You’re free to use your purchased CM palettes in whatever way you choose. Really.
  5. As this shop grows, we’ll be adding more and more tutorials both here in this blog, and some more lengthy, detailed projects will be covered in downloadable PDF/ePub form. So we’ll not only show you the colors, we’ll show you what you can do with them— and how!

Bottom line: You’re purchasing not just unique color palettes, but also more information, in multiple, versatile formats— and the right to use them as you wish.

All this is not to say don’t take advantage of free stuff! Hardly. I think we all should avail ourselves of the amazing array of resources that are out there— as long as it’s done properly.

And it could be that the kinds of projects you anticipate working on don’t require all the additional color information, high resolution, etc., included in the CM palettes. Or maybe our color palettes are simply not your taste. We get that. So maybe right now, sites like ColourLovers are just right. (Hey, we like free stuff too!)

The time may come, however, when your projects need a bit of an upgrade. And when you decide to purchase Colormusing palettes, you’re not only adding unique color combinations to your projects, you’re making your life easier! No catch— just beautiful colors.

This post first appeared (well, earlier today) at


  1. Anyone who doesn’t think that colour-work is important can just look at all the mediocre (including overdone) examples of uses of colour: logos, websites, advertising, fashion designers who only use black…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s