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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.
Some people like specing their colors far ahead of ever applying them in the document. Others like working more interactively, playing with colors as they layout a page. You can work either way in InDesign. But if you're in theplay as you go corner, you'll probably like using the Colors panel. Let's go ahead and open up the Colors panel. Go to the Window menu, choose Color and then Color again. To change a color with the Color panel or to apply a new color, first select the object. In this case, I've selected a text frame but I actually want to change the text inside the text frame.
So I'm going to show you a secret trick and that is look at that little T in the Swatches panel. It shows up here in the Swatches panel and it shows up even smaller at the bottom of the Tool panel and that T means formatting affects that text rather than the frame. When you click the left button there, it affects the frame. If you click the T, it affects the text inside the frame. So that's a quick way that you can change the color of some text without actually selecting the text with the Type tool. In this case, it will change the color of all the text inside this frame.
Now the Color panel shows me the current color of this text and it shows me a bar along the bottom, so I can change it to a tint of that color. If I want to change it to a completely different color, I would have to pick that out of the Color panel menu. For example, let's choose CMYK. Now I get a full color bar where I can pick any CMYK color. How about hot pink? Looks great, but just because it looks great doesn't mean it's going to be great. You need to be careful when choosing colors from the screen because unless you've done a lot of work to set up your color management environment, the colors that you see on screen may not match what you see in print.
Believe me, I've been burned by that one myself. So it's much better to pick your colors from a printed swatch book, such as the True Match books or the Pantone books and then dial-in those CMYK colors here. Now unfortunately, there are two other problems with using the Color panel even if you are typing in colors from a swatch book. First, it's very difficult for somebody else looking at this document to tell what colors you used. Are they RGB? Are they CMYK? I just don't know unless I actually select it and look in the Color panel. Second, it's very hard to use these colors consistently throughout your publication.
You might pick one color like this pink here and then go some place else and try and match it and you won't get the numbers exactly the same. Fortunately, there's a solution to this problem and that's every time you make one of these unnamed colors that is a color that doesn't have a swatch associated with it, go to the Color panel menu and choose Add to Swatches. When you do that, the color that you made is added to the bottom of the Swatches panel. If you've made a bunch of these unnamed colors throughout your document, you can add all of them to your Swatches panel really quickly by going to the Swatches panel menu and choosing Add Unnamed Colors.
This goes through the whole document, grabs all your unnamed colors and adds them in here at the bottom of the Swatches panel. That's handy. Okay, if you like the Color panel then there's one other method for choosing colors that you should know about, and that's the Color Picker. You'll find the Color Picker by double- clicking on the fill color inside the Tool panel. Some people like this because it looks kind of like the Photoshop Color Picker, although it's different in some important ways. You can just click inside the Color Space View here or click on the slider over here and choose a color from here.
But there's one important thing that you need to keep in mind and that is you need to pay attention to whether you're adding a CMYK swatch or an RGB swatch or an Lab swatch and the way you can tell the difference is what this button says right here. But there is one very important thing you need to pay attention to when you're choosing colors from the Color Picker and that is, are you going to get an RGB, an Lab or a CMYK color when you click OK. The clue is what does this button say right here. Add CMYK Swatch? So you're going to get a CMYK Swatch.
But if I accidentally click inside any of these fields next to RGB, suddenly the button changes. I'll do the same thing over here with the next to the L. I'll just click and the button changes. So pay attention to that button. That's the clue that tells you what color you're going to get. If I'm making a document that I'm planning I'm printing, I probably want a CMYK color, not an RGB or Lab color. So I click next to the C, M, Y, or K. It says Add CMYK Swatch and I can click OK and it applies that color to whatever was selected on my page.
It also loads it up in my Color panel and that lets me add it to my Swatches panel. Personally, I rarely use either the Color Picker or the Color panel. I'm in the camp that believes you should set it up in the Swatches panel first. But if these tools work for you then go for it.
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