Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with custom swatches, part of Photoshop CS5 for the Web.
The Swatches panel is useful not only for choosing color, but also because it can house custom sets of colors for use in particular designs. All those colors will be available right in front of you as you work. In this movie, I'll show you how to load alternative swatch sets that come with Photoshop, or that a design colleague might give you. And then I'll show you how to make a custom swatch set of your own. In the Swatches panel, you can see the default set of swatches, but there are lots of other swatch sets to choose from. I can find preset collections of Swatches by going to the Panel menu icon at the top-right of the Swatches panel, and under this line is a whole list of custom swatch sets.
I'm going to scroll way down toward the bottom of this list, and select one of the web-safe swatch sets, the Web Hues set. At the prompt, I'll click OK, and that replaces the colors in the Swatches panel with these new colors, all of which happen to be web-safe in this case. Another source of swatch sets is your colleagues, who may share their custom Photoshop swatch sets with you. As an example, lynda.com is including in the exercise files, a swatch set put together by our co-founder, Bruce Heavin, that's a collection of web-safe color swatches arranged by saturation value.
To load that custom swatch set, I'll go to the Panel menu on the Swatches panel again. I'll choose Replace Swatches. Then I'll navigate out to the exercise files to find a custom swatch set called color.aco. I'll click Open, and that has changed the swatches that appear here in the Swatches panel. This is a really long set of swatches. So, I'm going to scroll down so that you can see that it's composed of very saturated colors, medium saturated colors, and relatively unsaturated colors.
All of these colors are web-safe. Next, I want to show you a technique that I really like for designing your own custom swatch set. Let's say that you were redesigning a web site, and you need to use the same colors that are in the current site, or maybe you just admire and would like to make use of a color scheme that you see in another web site on the Internet. You can borrow colors from a live web site, or from a document that you'll open in Photoshop, or really from anywhere on your screen. The first step is to open your color source. In this case, I've opened my web browser to a page that I like on the lynda.com web site.
I also need to open a document in Photoshop. This can be any document at all. It could even be a new blank file. But I do have to have some document open in Photoshop to make this work. Next, I'm going to go to the Swatches panel, and I'm going to clear out all of the swatches that are there, so that I have a blank slate that I can fill with my own colors. When there are lots of colors in the Swatches panel, like this, the quickest way to delete them all is by using the Preset Manager. I'll open the Preset Manager from the Swatches panel menu by choosing Preset Manager.
In the Preset Manager, I'll make sure that Preset Type is set to Swatches. Then I'm going to select all of the Swatches that are there, which are the same swatches that I see over in the Swatches panel right now. To do that, I'll press Command+ A on a Mac, or Ctrl+A on a PC. To delete all these swatches, I'll click the Delete button, and then I'll click the Done button in the Preset Manager. That closes the Preset Manager and removes all of the swatches from my Swatches panel. Next, I'm going to sample some colors from the lynda.com web site to include in my new custom swatch set.
The tool I use for that is the Eyedropper tool, which I'll select in the toolbox. Now, here is something to focus on, because some people think this isn't completely intuitive. I'm going to move my cursor over whatever document I happen to have opened in Photoshop. Remember, this can even be a blank document. I'll click and hold with the Eyedropper tool and leave my mouse pressed down. As I move out of the Photoshop document window, and over the area from which I want to sample color in the web browser, or elsewhere on my screen, I'm going to hover over this blue, and then I'm going to release my mouse.
When I do, that same blue appears here in the Foreground Color box in the toolbox. Now to get that color into the Swatches panel, I'll just move my cursor over the Swatches panel. The icon changes to a paint bucket, and I'll click. I'll type in a name for the blue color swatch I'm creating. I'll call this ps blue, and I'll click OK. Now I have the first swatch in my custom set of color swatches. I'll repeat those steps over and over, until I have all the swatches that I want in my custom set.
I've repeated that several times, until I have all the colors that I want in my custom swatch set. The next thing I'll do is to save this custom swatch set for use in the future. To do that, I'll go back to the Swatches panel menu, and I'll choose Save Swatches. In the Save dialog box, it's important to navigate to the same place, inside of Photoshop, where all of the other swatches are located.
On a Mac, that's in the Applications folder, inside of the Adobe Photoshop CS5 folder, inside the Presets subfolder, and inside the Color Swatches subfolder. Here, you can see all of the files that represent the pre-built swatch sets that come with Photoshop. In the Save As field, I'm going to give my custom swatch set a name. I'll call this jfk custom - those are my initials - and then I'll click Save. Now, I want to be able to see my custom swatch set in the Swatches panel menu, so that I could load it and use it in the future.
But if I go to that panel menu, and I scroll down to the alphabetical place where I should see my custom swatch set, it isn't there. That's because in order to get a custom swatch set to show up in this Panel menu, I have to first close and reopen Photoshop, which I'm going to do now. With Photoshop reopened, if I come to the Panel menu, now I can see my jfk custom panel. So, how would I use that? Well, let's say that it's a month down the road, and I have reset my swatches so that I'm using the default swatches.
Then I decide that I want to use my custom swatch set. At that point, I can go to the Panel menu and select the jfk custom swatch set, and click OK, and that replaces whatever swatch set I'm using with my custom swatch set. So, that's one of my favorite color techniques in Photoshop. Give it a try because I'm sure it will help you create and access color schemes that work and that are custom built for your own projects.
- Customizing a web workspace
- Coloring web graphics
- Optimizing images as JPEG, GIF, or PNG files
- Creating background graphics for sites
- Working with transparency
- Building navigation bars, buttons, and rollover graphics
- Designing web page mock-ups
- Adding animation
- Automating web-related tasks in Photoshop
- Integrating with the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite