Computer scientists develop a tool to help people use colour better in graphic design

Thursday, July 20, 2023

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo, Stony Brook University, and Adobe Research have developed a tool to help people use colour better in graphic design. 

The tool, De-Stijl, uses powerful machine learning technology to suggest intuitive colour palettes for novice designers and inexperienced users. The software combines and improves on the functionalities of existing tools like Figma, Pixlr, and Coolor, allowing users to select important theme colors and quickly visualize how they’ll impact a design.

Professor Jian Zhao“You put your graphical elements into the canvas,” said Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Jian Zhao. “De-Stijl separates it into background, image, decoration and text, and based on these it creates a palette and then can make recommendations based on the design elements of layout, colour proximity, and proportion.”

De-Stijl’s most exciting contribution is an innovative 2-D colour palette, developed in consultation with expert graphic designers, that not only suggests colours but also demonstrates their impact in different distributions.

photo of Xinyu Shi“Humans perceive colours differently based on their proportion and their placement,” said Xinyu Shi, a PhD student at the Cheriton School of Computer Science and the lead author on the research. “With the 2D format, users can better perceive how their current graphic designs look, focusing on the colour itself.”

The Waterloo-led project grew out of a longstanding relationship with Adobe, the design powerhouse responsible for products like Photoshop and InDesign.

Read the full article on Waterloo News.


To learn more about this research, please see Xinyu Shi, Ziqi Zhou, Jing Wen Zhang, Ali Neshati, Anjul Kumar Tyagi, Ryan Rossi, Shunan Guo, Fan Du, Jian Zhao, “De-Stijl: Facilitating Graphics Design with Interactive 2D Color Palette Recommendation,” Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’23), April 23–28, 2023 Hamburg, Germany.

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