Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Understand unnamed colors, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] Some people spec all of their colors far ahead of ever applying them in their documents. Others like working more interactively, playing with colors as they lay out a page. And you can work either way in InDesign. But if you're in the play-as-you-go corner, then you're probably going to like using the Color panel. You can find the Color panel over here in the dock. Or, if you don't see it there, you can go to the Window menu, then choose Color, and then come over here and choose Color again. There's also a version of the Color panel hiding inside the Control panel.
You know how normally you can select an object and then go up to the Fill menu in the Control panel? If you simply click, you get something that looks like the Swatches panel. On the other hand, if you hold down the Shift key when you click, you get something that looks just like the Color panel. So that's kind of cool, just a little-known fact. But I'm going to hide that, and I'm just going to use the Color panel instead. In fact, I'm going to drag its tab out here, so I can have it floating on my page. Now I'm going to close the Stroke panel by clicking on its name inside the dock.
This is just easier to see what I'm doing. I would like to apply a color to this frame over on the left side of my spread. When I select any object on my page that already has a color applied to it, the Color panel displays a tint ramp. And this tint ramp let's me change the tint of the color inside the frame, not the color itself, but its tint. I'll click over here, and you'll see now it's a 70% tint. There's a 19% tint. I can also drag this little slider inside the Color panel, or I could change this field to whatever value I want.
Now, in this case, I don't want a tint, so I'm going to set this back to 100% and press Enter or Return. Instead, I want a totally different color, so I'll click on this little menu in the upper right corner, and I can choose Lab, CMYK, or RGB. Now, of course, I would use RGB if this were an on-screen document, but, in this case, I'm going to choose CMYK. Now, from here, I could dial in the colors exactly the way I want them, or I could click on this color ramp down at the bottom. Whatever color I click on is applied to the object.
Now, as I've said before, you need to be very careful when choosing colors from the screen. If you're sending your document to a commercial printer, you should choose your colors from a printed swatch book instead. And unfortunately, there are two other problems with using the Color panel, even if you're typing colors in from a swatch book. First, if I handed this document to somebody else, and they selected this frame, they wouldn't know if this color was a CMYK color or an RGB color because when you look inside the Swatches panel that color doesn't even exist.
And the second problem is the fact that it doesn't show up in the Swatches panel makes it really difficult to apply that same color elsewhere in my document. So, if I care about consistency throughout my document, I want the same color on multiple pieces of text or multiple objects, then this is a big problem. So here's what you do. It's really important. If you're going to be using the Color panel to make these kinds of colors, which are called unnamed colors, by the way, then you really should go to the Swatches panel menu and then choose Add Unnamed Colors.
This tells InDesign to go through your whole document, find all the unnamed colors, and then add them to the Swatches panel. Plus, it links them to the document. So if I edit this swatch, the object will change as well. So that's good. Okay, if you like working on the fly, and you like this Color panel thing, there are two other ways of making colors that I want to point out to you. One is the Color Picker. You can find the Color Picker by double-clicking on either the Fill or Stroke icons inside the Color panel or the Fill and Stroke icons down at the bottom of the Tool panel.
When you do that, up comes the Color Picker. And some people really like this because maybe it kind of reminds them of Photoshop. And you can click any color you want inside this dialog box, as long as you're aware that just because you click on it, doesn't mean that you're going to get that on a printing press. But you can pick a color just by clicking on it, and then you can either click OK or click Add a CMYK Swatch. That's what I suggest doing, as it adds it to the Swatches panel. Now you can click OK, and it closes the dialog box. Now, the last method I want to point out is to use the Eyedropper tool, not the tool inside the Color panel, but the Eyedropper tool over here inside the Tool panel.
I should point out that the Eyedropper tool and the Color Theme tool occupy the same place in the Tools panel. So if you don't see the Eyedropper tool immediately, you might have to click and hold for a moment and then choose it out of this little menu. Now, the great thing about the Eyedropper tool is I can pick a color from anywhere on my page. For example, I'm going to come over here and click on the yellow inside this image. As soon as I click, you can see it picks up that color and applies it to my object. If you look closely, you'll also notice the Eyedropper is now black.
It's like filled with that color. So in order to pick up a different color, I need to hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows, and that changes it back to a white, empty Eyedropper. So, for example, I'll come over here, and click on one of these flowers in this image. That looks pretty good. Or maybe I'll pick up this color from this woman's dress. As long as I'm holding down the Option or Alt key, I can pick up new colors. Now, once again, this is still an unnamed color, so I really need to go back to the Swatches panel, and look in the menu, and then choose Add Unnamed Colors.
Now that color shows up in my Swatches panel, so I can breathe easy. Now, personally, I rarely use any of these methods to create colors. I'm in the camp that believes you should set up your colors in the Swatches panel first. But if these tools work for you, then go for it.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents