Color Schemes Aplenty and Saved Favorites to Boot!

Browse over 6000 color schemes at ColorSchemer. Professional color editing software is available from ColorSchemer. The color schemes that you can download are .cs files that can be opened by ColorSchemer Studio. Their PhotoSchemer, which helps you pick out a color scheme based on a photo, might well be worth the price of the software!

If you’re in a hurry hover your mouse pointer over the color blocks in your favorite color scheme and write down the #hex code from the tool tip. Now you’re all set to use your favorite new colors!

Better yet, sign up for a free account on ColorSchemer. For parting with an email address you’ll be able to build a personalized Favorite Schemes list. Once you sign up, go to the Scheme Gallery and browse to a scheme you like. You’ll see who made the scheme, the number of times its been downloaded, the scheme’s rating out of 5 stars (and how many people rated it), and a link called “Add Fav”. Click on Add Fav to put the scheme you like into your Favorite Schemes.

My Favorite Schemes will show what you have saved so far. What a nice service to allow us to collect these color schemes and save them for later.

Bookmark ColorSchemer!

How to Find That New Color Scheme for Your Next Website Design

I’ve been cruising through some new sites – to me at least – to get some ideas on a color scheme for a new website. I’ll have a few posts on color this week, so if you’re looking to find a new color scheme for your next site, stay tuned!

The first site I looked at for color schemes was ColourLovers and I came away duly impressed.

Colors, palettes and patterns can be viewed endlessly. Over 230,000 patterns and over half-a-million color palettes await your scores and comments.

The color community is thriving here with an active forum and lots of colors, patterns and palettes for free downloading.

Once you register with the site – it’s free – check out the palette maker. Under the Palette tab, click on Create New and start dragging colors from the color picker to the five spots just underneath Create a Palette. When you’re ready you can fill in some details for your final palette and add it to the community.

Colors are identified with their RGB and #hex equivalents, so it’s easy enough to plug those values into your css stylesheet or into The GIMP color picker when you need them.

There’s even more fun under the Patterns tab! Over a hundred patterns are ready for you to customize. – what a wonderful site!

JPGs Can’t Handle Transparency, So Save As PNG Instead

The title of this post says everything.

JPGs Can’t Handle Transparency, So Use A PNG Instead

Earlier today I got lost in the details while using The GIMP to create a couple icons for a new WordPress theme. I kept seeing this colored background for an icon that I knew just wasn’t there. I could see that the image had only one layer and no background layer in the layers dialog of The GIMP, but every time I saved the image and viewed the result in my browser I saw the colored background.

This drove me mad until I spotted the obvious mistake. I had been saving the file that I wanted to have a transparent background as a jpg file. Since jpg files can’t handle transparency The GIMP tries to accommodate by exporting the file as a .jpg. Unfortunately, the current background color is used to fill in the transparent parts of the image, so you end up with a non-transparent image.

To make a transparent image or an image with a transparent background, save the file as a png file. PNG files can handle transparency, so once I saved my image as a .png the colored background went away.

One caveat here is that image files with the extension .png are not recognized by older browsers so the colored background will show through and the image won’t be transparent.

Gradient Backgrounds for Body and Header Give a Smooth Appearance to WP

The structure of many WordPress themes includes a width definition for the actual blog contents so that there is an empty space on either side of said contents in most modern computer screens. Not many people use 800×600 resolution these days, so some designers argue that the default or standard size of window that we should design for can be larger than 800 x 600 pixels.

Even though the size of standalone monitors and laptop screens are much larger than they were 3-4 years ago, I would bet that many people do not run their browsers at full screen on such large monitors. With Windows Vista, for example, the new sidebar feature takes up a width of 150px which may take away from the browser real estate.

Also, with the ability of modern computers to run several programs at one time, people operate them in this fashion. It’s convenient to be able to see more than one program at a time and if browsers are constantly run at full screen that’s not allowed. Besides, it’s very difficult to read all the way across such large computer screens.

So, we are left with the current state of affairs where most blogs and Web pages have these spaces running down the sides of the real content. Should those spaces be left blank to have a white background?

Let’s make it a bit more interesting and put some color in there. Instead of choosing a background color for the body tag, why not use a gradient? Gradients can be designed with any choice of colors and blending between the colors is up to your imagination.

Open up The GIMP and create a new file 300-400px wide and at least 1000px in height. The width doesn’t really matter here as we’ll trim that down to a couple pixels when we’re satisfied with the gradient we’re making. The height can be much longer – it just depends how fast you want to see the gradient run out when you scroll down your pages.

Double-click on the gradient tool button to open the gradient tool options dialog:

The GIMP dialog box.

The gradient tool is selected in The GIMP.

latest gradient highlighted in tool options

The last-used gradient appears in the gradient toolbox window.

Click on the gradient to bring up a list of the available gradients. Click on a gradient that you like to make it the current gradient. Checking the Reverse checkbox will flip the gradient left-to-right. Changing the shape from linear to radial or conical by clicking the Shape drop-down arrow can give some interesting effects, but for our background gradient we’ll leave the shape at linear.

In your new image click-n-drag the cursor from the top to the bottom of the image. When you release the pointer the gradient will appear and fill the whole image.

Considering download times we’ll trim the gradient background image instead of using this giant image as the background. Click on the rectangle selection tool so you can cut out a slice of the huge gradient image.

rectangular selection tool

The rectangle selection tool is used to select or cut out portions of an image.

In your gradient image select a rectangular portion that is 1-2 pixels wide and 1000 (or more) pixels tall, then copy your selection to the clipboard with Ctrl-c.

Open a new file using the menu, File/New. Notice that the new image size matches your selected area of the large gradient image, so click on OK. Type Ctrl-v to paste the skinny gradient into the new image. As you can tell it is difficult to see the colors in such a skinny image. That is why we use 300-400 pixel wide image to start with – it gives you an idea of what the gradient on your Web page will look like.

Save the new skinny gradient image as a jpg file and export it from The GIMP.

export image from the gimp dialog box

An export jpg window may come up as you save the jpg file. Click “Export” to save it.

To place the gradient in your Web page add a couple lines to both the header and body tags in the CSS stylesheet:

background-image: url(skinny-gradient.jpg);

background-repeat: repeat-x;

This tells the browser to repeat the skinny gradient across the page, but not down the page. Save the gradient jpg in the WordPress theme folder and now it becomes part of your new theme.