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How do you sample a color palette in Procreate?

Choosing the right color palette is an important part of any digital art project. The colors you use can set the mood, convey meaning, and draw the viewer’s eye where you want it to go. In Procreate, sampling colors from your artwork to create a unified palette is easy with the color dropper tool.

Understanding color theory

Before randomly selecting colors to sample, it helps to understand some basic principles of color theory. The three main characteristics of color are:

  • Hue – The basic color (red, blue, yellow, etc.)
  • Saturation – The intensity or purity of the color
  • Value – How light or dark the color is

Colors can be described in terms of these three traits. Hue determines the basic color, while saturation and value describe the amount of grayness and lightness or darkness of the hue.

Some other important color theory principles that apply to sampling a palette include:

  • Complementary colors – Colors opposite each other on the color wheel (like red and green) provide a high level of contrast.
  • Analogous colors – Colors next to each other on the color wheel (like blue, blue-violet, and violet) create harmony and visual interest.
  • Triadic colors – Three colors equally spaced on the color wheel (like red, yellow, and blue) offer vibrancy.

Understanding these basics allows you to make informed choices when sampling colors.

Choosing where to sample from

The first step in sampling a color palette is deciding what area of your artwork you want to pull colors from. Some options include:

  • The focal point – Sample colors from the most important part of the image.
  • Adjacent colors – Pick samples right next to each other to get harmonious analogous hues.
  • Distributed colors – Select colors evenly throughout the composition for variety.
  • Color extremes – Choose the lightest and darkest colors to create contrast.

Consider how you want to guide the viewer’s eye and what sort of mood you want when making this decision.

Using the color dropper

Once you’ve determined where to sample from, using the color dropper tool in Procreate is simple.

  1. Select the color dropper in the tool menu. It looks like an eyedropper icon.
  2. Tap anywhere on your canvas to pick up the color currently displayed there. The exact hue will be loaded into the color dropper.
  3. With the color loaded in the dropper, tap one of the color wells at the bottom of the screen. This will save that color to your palette.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3, sampling from different areas to build your palette.

The color dropper makes it fast and easy to lift any color directly from your artwork. This ensures all the hues in your palette are cohesive.

Choosing colors strategically

To create an effective palette, don’t just randomly sample colors. Keep the following strategic tips in mind:

  • Sample both dark and light values. Having lights, darks, and midtones allows for contrast and visual interest.
  • Vary saturation. Include vivid intense colors as well as muted tones.
  • Use all three primary hues. Having some reds, blues, and yellows makes sure the palette is diverse.
  • Complement with opposites. Adding contrasting colors like red and green makes things stand out.
  • Focus sampling on focal points or areas you want to accentuate.

This table summarizes how to strategically build color variety into a sampled palette:

Color Aspect Strategic Choices
Value Pick light, medium, and dark colors
Saturation Sample vivid intense hues and muted tones
Hue Include primary colors like red, blue, and yellow
Harmony Select complementary opposites
Area Focus on key elements you want to accentuate

Using these strategies results in a diverse, balanced color palette.

Editing sampled colors

The colors you initially sample may need some refinement to create the exact look you want. Procreate provides color editing tools to tweak your sampled hues.

To edit a sampled color:

  1. Double tap the color well in your palette.
  2. Use the color sliders to adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness.
  3. Tap “Add Back to Palette” when finished editing to update the color.

You can also tap the three dots next to any color well and choose “Edit Color” for more advanced options. Here you can:

  • Change the color mode (RGB, HSB, CMYK)
  • Directly enter numeric values for color channels
  • Pick a new color from a wheel or slider interface

Taking advantage of Procreate’s editing tools enables you to take your sampled colors and customize them to perfection.

Using the palette

Once you’ve built your ideal sampled palette, there are a few ways to make use of it:

  • Quick selection – Tap a color well to instantly choose that hue for painting or drawing.
  • Color dropper – Sample even more colors from your artwork to expand the palette.
  • Color mixer – Blend colors in the palette or mix them with new sampled colors.
  • Color history – View recently used colors to sample again or avoid repeats.

Having your refined palette readily available makes it easy to maintain color harmony across your entire project.

Tips for great color palettes

Sampling colors from your Procreate work is an excellent way to build cohesive, beautiful palettes. Here are some top tips to get the most out of it:

  • Determine the mood and visual goals before starting.
  • Select a good source area to sample from.
  • Include lights, darks, saturated, muted, and primary colors.
  • Edit hues after sampling to get the exact look you want.
  • Use the palette early on to guide your colors throughout.
  • Sample more as you work to evolve the palette.
  • Take advantage of color mixing and history to expand your options.

With some thoughtfulness and strategic sampling, you can create color palettes that take your Procreate art to the next level.


Procreate’s color dropper makes sampling from your own artwork intuitive and simple. By understanding color theory principles and strategically selecting hues, you can build a diverse palette tailored to your vision. The editing tools help you refine your sampled colors for just the right look. Use the resulting palette early and often so your colors remain cohesive. With practice, sampling colors in Procreate can become an effortless part of your creative process that takes your digital art to new heights.