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Interactive Annual 20:

Adobe Kuler

Preview App

“Useful, flawlessly executed designer fun.”
—Troy Lachance

“I can’t stop using this app to help inspire me with color palettes for new projects.”
—Sean Klassen

Overview: Swatch decks sometimes fail to inspire... oh, but remember that smoldering sunset in the tropics? Or that vintage green British sports car? With the Adobe Kuler iPhone app, designers can now quickly capture their favorite color combinations—wherever they appear. There’s no need to download swatches, or e-mail images to try to match. Simply extract colors from an image on your phone, or use the live view to capture colors directly from the surrounding environment. Once colors have been captured, the color theme is automatically synced to, and becomes available in the Kuler panel of your favorite Creative Cloud software, so designers can make use of the color themes as soon as they’re back at their desk.

  • • Point your camera anywhere, and the live view feature captures a customizable palette of the most interesting colors from your surroundings.
  • • A color wheel lets you experiment with different schemes (analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound, shades, etc.) based on a single color which can be precisely defined using HEX or RGB values.
  • • With half a million downloads to date, it’s clear that creatives love Kuler. Seeing the color themes generate automatically via live view quickly becomes addictive.

Comments by product manager Dave Erickson:

Was the topic/subject of the project new to Adobe? “Kuler was an existing product, and Adobe had developed other iPhone apps in the past. What was new was connecting the data collected with the iPhone app to products like Adobe Illustrator CC and Adobe Ideas so designers can make use of those colors immediately.”

What was the thinking behind the navigational structure? “We worked hard to keep our navigation simple. We experimented with different navigation models, iterated quite a bit and avoided the urge to add unnecessary settings. In the end, we came up with a navigation structure that offers only a few options and is mostly linear.”

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? “There were many teams involved, and they were spread across multiple time zones. Like most distributed teams, it took time to adjust to the lack of face-to-face meetings, less-than-perfect conferencing software and the inability to have impromptu discussions and whiteboard sessions. We overcame most of the challenges we faced by adjusting our work style and hours and by adopting effective collaboration tools.”

What have you found to be the most interesting/unexpected use of the app by designers? “We designed the app to allow people to capture color inspiration they find in the real world. But we did not expect people to use the app as more of a color discovery tool. Many people are using the app to find beauty in objects and scenes where you don’t always expect to find great colors.”


Adobe (San Jose, CA), project design and development

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