Wow. Steve at Slayeroffice.com has an amazing color palette generator based on the design technique of Andy Clark.
You enter a hex code value for a color, then another to mix it with, and out comes a beautiful png graphic of the color scheme. Extremely nice work, Steve. This is a great resource for brainstorming color schemes. I've used a number of other methods, but this one gets the prize.
Ok, so the color palette generator at wellstyled (shown) is even better.
I still recommend one extension of the techniques: take a scheme you like and use Photoshop to adjust the hue locally, and generate as many versions as you need (perhaps for clients or your boss). Then it's even easier to get ideas. If your'e a new web designer, that's a good enough reason on its own to downlo ad a trial of Photoshop, I think.
Researching Flies, and Colorblindness 101
Drosphilia researchers have a leg up on web designers.
Well, at least they've got a decent explanation of colorblindness. A short paper on colorblind audiences was written a few years ago for researchers presenting their findings on the very latest in the world of flies. The guidelines are easy to understand, and the changes are easy to incorporate.
Here's a bit:
"There are always colorblind people among the audience and readers. There should be more than TEN colorblinds in a room with 250 people. (50% male and 50% female) There is a good chance that the paper you submit may go to colorblind reviewers. Supposing that your paper will be reviewed by three white males (which is not unlikely considering the current population in science), the probability that at least one of them is colorblind is whopping 22%! ... When preparing your presentations (papers, slides, web pages etc.), please take this into account. Here are some comments on how to make figures and presentations colorblind friendly.
I would also recommend a quick look at the Ishihara test for colorblindness for a shot-in-the arm understanding.
And while you're on a colorblindness kick, you'll lose blogger points if you don't read at least Day 12 of the Dive Into Accessibility website, which is the best online introduction to making your website+blog readable by everyone, except illiterates, period.