Choosing Color Palettes for your eLearning

Nov 11, 2014

I'd like to start a discussion on how developers create their "look and feel" for each course. I love looking for new color palettes to use but get confused on how to display them throughout the course (fill color, borders, text color, background, etc.)

Anyone want to share some best practices?

I've found Adobe Color CC ( to be a great resource for color palettes.

19 Replies
Adam Tompkins

Katie - your topic is great! Defining the right color palette for any course can be overwhelming. I try and keep the palette simple, by using a monotone color scheme paired with white as a "relief" color.

I start with a base color and add a couple of tints to it so it has some contrast. For example, if my base color is at 100%, then I would add a 50% color tint, and a 20% color tint to get a slight variance in my base color. 

The base color would be used as the main color (for example a background) and the two tinted colors could be used to work with the main color to highlight important elements without resorting to the use of a standard highlight color (like bright orange or fire red).

Here's a great article from that explains how to choose a color palette  

The article is about Flat Design and Color Trends, but the information can be applied to your color palette in your course.

Jennifer Valley

I find that I reach for the most with coming in at a close second. They give you the option to pick either monochrome, complementary, 3 color (adjacent), triad (3 complimentary), tetrad (4 complimentary) and free style pallets. With Paletton you can also see an example of what you choose, color tables or choose from presets. and are great if you have an image you want to use the color pallets from.  Or you can check out color sets and appropriation on Pinterest and Canva. 

I have handy when I need to make RGB to Hex or other format changes.

Holly MacDonald

Katie - I'm not a graphic designer, so this is not intuitive to me either, but it's something I could use more insight to as well. The colour tools are great for the mechanics of choosing colour, not so much on the guidance of "what do I do with this palette". At least for me.

It's going to depend if you have brand guidelines or design standards to follow. Usually I look at the client's brand and website first. That often gives a lot of insight. Then it's just a lot of experimenting for me. I'm sure it's not the most efficient method, so did a little searching too.

Links that I found helpful:

Thanks for asking the question. It pushed me to do a little digging and reflection around the topic and I've learned some good tips while doing so.

Hope that helps,


Sean Bengry

Love this thread, and definitely am familiar with a lot of what's been said, but thank you for the others!

I did want to mention though, what I've found recently is that making it look good is one thing (and the tools/resources help), but making it readable is another.  Lately, after my color palette is chosen, I've been using to figure out what combinations are the best to present text (font and background color).

Good stuff!

Andrew Ratner

I don't know if you all are still following this, but I still feel so beginner at this. I've got two distinct, but related colors in my company's brand: 004b85 and 4d90cd. How do I choose which colors to use as the palette? And how do I know which ones to use as "accent colors" when I'm creating the color theme on PPT (or is that really necessary)? Thanks for keeping this alive!

Silvie Alnas

I attended a webinar about how Disney works with training (Training Magazine Network: "Mousify your training") and someone added a great link to the chat. It is about using color based on Disney's characters. It may seem a bit far off from what you are looking for, but I found it very informative and learnt a lot from it.

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