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Originally published Monday, August 17, 2009 at 2:01 PM

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Online color finder creates palettes in a snap

Free online tool offers to turn photos into color palettes

Chicago Tribune

This is the time of year when we get greedy. The warmth, the light, the blue water, the green leaves: Why can't they last forever?

So when we discovered a free online tool at Color Explorer (colorexplorer.com) that offers to turn photos into color palettes to be applied, say, to the walls of your living room, we made it our mission to bring a little summer inside. The site, by the Danish Internet innovation agency Port80.biz, does a lot of complex stuff that only a hard-core design-fiend could fully appreciate, but finding the little photo icon labeled "Import colors from an image" on the left side of the home page is a snap, as is uploading images.

Our sun-splashed photo of three little girls eating ice cream on a bright yellow bench (you could also use an inspiration photo of a room you love, if you're looking for a more literal living room translation) quickly resolved into three, 10 and even — gasp! — 50 colors, from buff with the faintest hint of lilac to pearly blues, acid yellows and black shot through with purple.

The three-color palettes were most practical — you could really see the roles key colors played in the photo and get a better sense of which ones sang of summer.

To turn the colors you like into actual paints you can buy at the store, write down the final code number that appears next to each color (example: No. D8CE58). Then plug that number it into the "HTML Number Box" on the "RGB to commercial tints" page at Easy RGB (easyrgb.com).

We got options including a dreamy nautical blue and two delicious sorbet purples. The yellow was not as appealing — too olive for our purposes. But we'd probably reached the point where a trip to a brick-and-mortar paint store was called for anyway, and Color Explorer had given us a great starting point.

The site performed equally well with photos of pink ice cream and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. We have a feeling we'll be feeding it photos long after the trees have lost their leaves and the kids have returned to school.

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