Vendor Spotlight: Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool by C&T Publishing

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

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The Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool, Updated 3rd edition is a color selection deck created by Joen Wolfrom for C&T Publishing. The tool includes 24 color cards (816 colors), instructions, value finders and five color plans for each color. The cards are laminated and bound on the lower right corner and can be stored in its convenient clear vinyl pouch.

Triadic color scheme: purple/ orange yellow/ aqua green (stamped image: Papertrey Ink)

Nearly two years ago I had the opportunity to review the previous edition of the 3-in-1 Color Tool. Although I tried very hard to show how helpful the tool could be, I completely missed the point. So I jumped at the chance to review the updated 3rd edition.

The first thing I noticed about the new edition is that it is larger- the previous edition was 8″ x 2 5/8″ versus the new edition which is 8″ x 3 1/4″. The new edition has more color samples and most of them are larger. The directions have been re-written and I found them much clearer and easier to understand. This edition also includes various color formulas which make the colors easier to replicate (if desired).

The instructions use a five step process to pick, match, choose, find and select colors for your project. The author also provides strategies if you are uncertain your colors match (are on that color card). She also provides a brief introduction to the Ives 24 color wheel (one card for each color). This edition has a new section which explains the difference between pure colors, tints, shades and tones and gives examples of each (pink is a tint, navy is a shade and mauve is a tone). Also provided is a brief explanation of basic color plans such as monochromatic, complementary, analogous, split-complementary and triadic.

The HUGE lesson I learned with this edition, is that I don’t have to try to find an exact match for colors (I spent a lot of time doing that with the old tool.) The tool can be used to identify the color family. When you put a color up to a color card you can tell if it is part of that family. If it is slightly off, most likely your color family is on a neighboring card. This was huge for me and I went from dragging on color selection, to finding the right family card.

Speaking of the color cards, they had a makeover for this edition as well. The front of the card now sports the pure color and a sampling of tints, shades and tones. Also included examples of how the color is used in the color plan options. In the prior edition, the color plans were on the back of the card.

Complementary color scheme: spring green/ fuchsia (Digital Image: In a Scrap Creations)

In the current edition, the back of each color card has 32-34 additional color samples. Each samples is labeled with CMYK (cyan magenta yellow black) and RGB (red green blue) color formulas. Additionally, samples has a HEX code which is used for website design.

The value finder is the last component of the tool. The value finders are pieces of green and red translucent plastic. When you look through either the red or the green value finder, colors disappear but values can be seen. If there are some dark and some light areas, contrast is present. When I tried this step, I was amazed where I noticed a lack of contrast in my artwork.

Analogous color scheme: golden yellow/ yellow/ chartreuse/ yellow-green/ spring green/ green (Digital Image: In a Scrap Creations)

Sometimes, new and improved isn’t always a good thing. Fortunately, for the updated 3rd edition of the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool, the changes are all good, from the increased color selection, larger color swatches, color codes and improved instructions. The tool is portable and very helpful for crafting and shopping (be confident that antique or yard sale find will match your sofa). This is a very handy and useful tool and one that I’ll use frequently.


  • Lightweight, portable and comes with a protective vinyl pouch
  • Colors are easier to replicate with CMYK and RGB formulas and Hex numbers for web sites
  • Instructions were revised making them much easier to follow in this 3rd edition


  • Double sided cards make it difficult to compare colors on opposite sides of the card
  • Deck is permanently bound. It would be nice to be able to remove individual cards.

Do you use any tools such as a color wheel or the 3-in-1 Color Tool to assist you with color selection? How would you use the 3-in-1 Color Tool?

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5 Responses to Vendor Spotlight: Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool by C&T Publishing

  1. Avatar
    Anonymous August 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    first of all i would snap that connetor button on the corner off and allow the cards freedom..but then i am the girl who cuts up her stamps also for more freedom of usage..( i am an amazing “deconstructor” hee hee)
    I have used my little color wheel for so long that it is taped together and looks like it has been through more wars than our earth. I wouldn’t mind having this new tool to work with, but as i said first thing would be to take it apart.(grin) Thanks for the critique

  2. Avatar
    gobarb26 August 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    I think this sounds like an amazing tool. It seems far better than a regular color wheel. I would use this for my crafts, but I would also use it for decorating my home. It would keep me from buying a padded ottoman that just misses the tone in my sofas! Can you guess what I did? LOL! Thanks for this great review.

  3. Avatar
    Jan Castle August 5, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    I just eyeball everything…this sounds like it would save me a lot of time wondering if this color woks!!!

  4. Avatar
    Cindy O August 6, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Thanks so much for the review. This sounds like a very useful basic color tool, and I just put it on my shopping list! The RGB info will be very helpful to me, because I use my computer (PowerPoint, not very high tech!) to make simple patterned paper and to print my sentiments. I’ve found that RGB numbers are an easy way for me to get a specific color output on my printer.

    One caution I’d like to point out – The RGB code on the card is unlikely to yield a perfect match on someone’s computer screen or printer. Colors on my screen, for example, don’t print quite the same on my printer. Every device is a little different. So be sure to test your color (test-print on the paper you plan to use, for example). I don’t use CMYK or HEX codes, but would suggest the same caution for them.

  5. Avatar
    Karen L August 10, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    I have the older version of this color tool and I NEVER use it! It was given to me as a gift and I can’t think of a reason to pull it out. I don’t use color wheels at all, but rely on my own sense of color. However, your suggestion to take it with me when I’m trying to match colors up with something that i can’t carry along with me is a good one. Maybe I will find a use for this after all!