How to Find Matching Paint Colors from a Photo Online

Jane Rix/

It’s easy to take a physical object to a paint store and match the color. But what if you like a color in an Instagram photo? It’s trickier, but we’ll show you how to match paint colors to digital images.

The low-tech approach to this situation is to display the photo on your phone and compare it to the paint chips in the store. It can certainly work, but it’s not an exact science. For more accurate color matching, we’ll have to go a little further.

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Set color

The first thing we need to do is set the color you found in a digital image. Colors in digital images are represented by six-digit “hexadecimal codes”. “RGB” and “CMYK” are other ways to define colors in digital form.

All of these different values ​​just tell your device screen how to create the color it should display. Discovering these values ​​allows us to convert the digital color to actual paint colors. We will use hexadecimal codes for our purposes.

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Once you have the image that contains the color you want, go to in a web browser. Select “Browse” or paste the image URL into the text box to get started.

Upload an image to scan.

Once the image is uploaded, click or tap anywhere on the image to select a color. The color will be displayed at the top with the hexadecimal code in the “HEX” box. Save this code.

Select a color to see the hex code.

Match the color

With the hex code in hand, we can now access a website called Encyclopedia. Enter the hexadecimal code in the search field and click “Search”.

Enter the hex code and click "Research."

At the top of the page you will see color information. You can click “Buy paint that matches this color” to see the closest paint color found.

Click the buy paint button.

You will be redirected to another website. In this case, the color is close to a Benjamin Moore paint color called “Traditional Yellow”. You can go to the paint store and find that paint chip or have an employee search for it.

Closest paint color.

There is usually no exact match between hex code and paint color. As you can see, the Benjamin Moore hex code is slightly different than what I entered. For more choices, go back to the previous page on Encycolorpedia and scroll down to see “Associated Named Colors”.

"Associated named colors" section.

If the original paint color is not close enough to your taste, you can select one of them and try “Buy paint in this color” again.

Try a new color.

Again, there probably won’t be an exact match to the color in the image. Paint colors don’t have as much variety as digital colors. However, by trying a few variations, you should be able to find a fairly close color.

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Jack C. Nugent