A color picker is an essential tool in a designer’s arsenal, whether he or she be a web designer, a software UI designer or a digital artist. The latter will probably do fine without a dedicated color picker, because all graphics software have one included. But web designers and software developers who need to juggle between multiple interfaces (code editor, image editor, browser etc), cannot be tied to a color picker that can be used only within a single program’s window. These people need a standalone color picker software.
Previously, we looked at what Windows 7 users had at their disposal. That article is over 3 years old, and it’s time we take another look at what’s available, now that a new operating system has joined in. The 5 color pickers that were discussed last time, will not be repeated, so make sure you take a look at the older article.
We will follow the same guidelines we followed the last time, viz. a good color picker should have the following qualities:
- a color mixer with controls for Hue/Saturation/Brightness
- a magnifier for precise color picking
- support Hex codes and preferably RGB and CMYK color codes
- color history
Here we go.
This is an old one, and it still works, even on Windows 8. It has an elongated interface with several built in color palettes at the top, selectable from a drop-down menu. Below it are several empty boxes or “chips”. This is to store your picked colors. Underneath the chips is the color section where you can get the color coders in hexadecimal and decimal formats. Then comes a Mixer and finally the magnified preview window.
The color mixer lets you adjust colors by changing hue, saturation and RGB values directly. There are multiple sliders to fine tune the picked colors. All these sections are collapsible, so you can hide the ones you don’t require and the program window will shrink to show only the parts you need.
Cons: Does not automatically keep history of colors (you have to manually keep them in the “chips”). Also CMYK values are not supported.
This is a light weight tool and comes with a click-and-drag type of color picker. The magnifier window moves along with the mouse cursor, but the constant flickering of the magnifier window when the pointer is moving makes it very annoying.
Color values are given in Hex, Decimal, RGB or HSV, whichever you choose. These can be modified using the RGB or HSV sliders. The program also provides the nearest web safe color to the one picked by the picker tool.
Cons: CPick does not keep history of colors. CMYK values are not supported. The interface is crowded.
Color Selector is an impressive little, portable color picker. You pick colors with a click-and-drag action, and instantly get color of the pixel in a variety of formats – RGB, HSV/HSB, HSL, CMY, Hexadecimal and Decimal. The values can be quickly copied to the clipboard using the Functions keys. There are sliders to adjust color values and a color converter that lets you type color values and have it converted to any of the supported formats.
An interesting feature of Color Selector is the ability to take a larger sample and get the average value of the color. Most color pickers pick a single pixel, but in Color Selector you can increase the size of the picker tool to up to 5x5 pixels. The program will sample all pixels and then calculate the average color.
Cons: No color history.
Pickard offers neat features in a small package. This open source color picking tool offers a large magnified viewer for easy color picking. Rather than picking colors directly off the screen, it allows you to magnify any area of the screen and then pick colors from the magnified view. I find this method easier, more precise and far more practical than that of the other pickers. It’s an innovative one too.
As soon as you pick a color, you can see the values in RGB, HSL, CMY and YUV. The color string is given in HTML, C++, Delphi, VisualBasic, SSA, and ASS.
To adjust colors there are sliders available for each of the three primary colors, hue, saturation and luminosity. Here is an interesting feature: you can freeze one value and change the rest together by dragging the color point around the color space.
Cons: Again, no history of colors picked earlier.
All four tools have been tested and found working on Windows 8, 32-bit.