We have often recommended the ColorBrewer website – an online application which helps mapmakers choose appropriate coloring schemes in a GIS, particularly with choropleth maps. There is now an updated version of the application, ColorBrewer 2.0. There is a list of the differences over on the Free Geography Tools blog.
In addition to this, recently I’ve been using Kuler. It’s not designed for mapping at all but it will allow for creating your own swatches by extracting colors from an image, using some predefined options, or creating a custom swatch. These can be saved, tagged, and shared (or not).
You can also browse swatches created by other people and save them. These can then be exported as .asc files which will open in Photoshop or Illustrator.
To get these into ArcGIS is a little tedious but I really like the results. I open ArcGIS Style Manager and create a new style. Then in the Color folder, add the new colors I want to use one at a time.
After I have all of the colors entered, I can use these colors to create color ramps like the ones in the image above for displaying elevation.
Working on a map presentation and want your labels to show up in something other then Times New Roman or Arial? TypeBrewer is a new online tool that can help you make choices regarding type fonts and labeling strategies for you map projects and presentations (The name is inspired from ColorBrewer - another online tool we have recommended in the past for helping choose color schemes for maps). TypeBrewer is a Flash based browser application that allows you to choose from several pre-selected font families and displays them on a sample map, where you are able to interactively manipulate the font characteristics and appearance. Once you generate a configuration that you like, TypeBrewer allows you to download the template specifications or export the simple map to the Adobe Illustrator format.