Posted in How-to, Ideas and inspiration, Technique adventures

How to Make a Color Palette Generator with Canva (Free Version)

Oh man, you guys. This was truly an adventure. By which I mean I had a looottt of trouble getting something simple to work. More on that later. 🙂

First, a disclaimer: I’ve never really played with Canva before. I’ve been interested in trying it, but this is really my first experiment. So I fully expect I did some stupid things. Please let me know if you have tips!

This is more a post to walk you through my experience, rather than Knowledgably Advise you on how to do this. But, to my credit, I now know at least one way to get the job done!

The first steps

I first just opened a blank “Play with Canva” file because I have no clue what I’m doing.

I decided the first thing to do once I was in was literally just search for a color palette template. At least I was smart enough to do that, and not try to reinvent the wheel!

Screenshot showing a search for "color palette" template in Canva

Bear in mind, I only have the free version, so there aren’t that many options. I first picked this one:

Screenshot of "Color Palette Inspiration" template in Canva

Little did I know the Hell that awaited me.

I wanted to upload a picture and see how easy it was to let Canva pull out the colors for me. As it turns out, that part was very easy and user-friendly.

All I had to do was upload something (though I know that part was probably unecessary because they have free images, too) and click on it to add it to my existing project. I chose a somewhat clumsy golden retriever pixel art I made last year, mostly because I only used 4 colors and it would make it easy.

Screenshot of Canva project after uploading an image

Fairly straightforward so far, right? I had figured out I needed to do this because when I clicked on the color palette (as highlighted above), I could see that Canva automatically tells you what colors are present in the photo/project over on the sidebar.

So my little dog pixel art resulted in this (I needed to click “See All” under the colors in the photo):

Screenshot of Canva's automatic color detection on my dog upload

Massively helpful. Thank you, Canva! It also gives you the hex code for each color when you hover over it with your cursor.

I thought “Wow, this was easy. I’m basically done!” But… I’ve foreshadowed enough. Here comes the trouble.

I was able to do a number of small, basic adjustments like moving things around, resizing, updating the text to reflect the real colors in the dog, but I couldn’t get the color palette itself to have all rounded corners once I cropped the extra fifth color off.

I know it sounds like no big deal, but I spent a very long time trying to figure it out. See, there are frames in Canva which will crop your image to the frame. So I should have been able to simply drop the palette piece onto a rectangular frame with rounded corners, but it just wouldn’t work.

This is where you find the frames and what they look like, by the way:

Screenshot of Canva menu showing frames

After suffering for a long time and trying and retrying resizing in every which way, I nearly rage quit the project altogether. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but every tutorial was like “it’s so easy, just drag and drop! :)” and meanwhile absolutely nothing happened when I did that.

I suspect the problem is either something is too fixed about the template I was using or I wasn’t able to resize finely enough or something? I’m not sure. This is what my experiment looked like when I gave up on it:

Screenshot of first Canva palette experiment
There was an attempt

Experiment part II

But instead of rage quitting, I decided to try a different template. I picked the sandy beach one you’ll see here, right above the one I first chose:

Screenshot of Canva's color palette template options

It was all smooth sailing from there. I deleted the background sand, which left me with a square frame. I was worried, but this time, my dog image actually resized to fit it. Amazing.

Then it was just some copying and pasting and changing the colors over to eventually get this:

My final experiment result, showing a dog with its color palette

It was a wild ride, maybe, but I got there eventually. And now I know how to do something new!

I learned a lot in general behind-the-scenes, too, just figuring out what’s available in Canva and that sort of thing. It seems like a great tool. I wish the paid version didn’t cost so much, or they’d have me as a customer.

I hope that you got something out of this, if maybe only entertainment at my Canva ignorance. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you soon!