When considering a new color scheme for your next design project, custom color palettes are a great place to start. Using Apple’s Color Picker, you can manually create new color swatch lists, or download and install pre-made custom color palettes from several sources on the web. Here’s how…
Perhaps no time in history has it been easier to access such a rich array of colors and palettes. The Colors panel provides multiple ways to specify, select, and save colors for your drawing. The following sections describe each of these methods.
To Open the Colors Panel:
Do one of the following:
- Click the Colors icon in the toolbar.
- Choose Window > Colors from the main menu.
HINT: he Colors panel is also used when changing colors in the Fonts panel and Style Inspector.
To Drag-and-Drop Colors:
You can apply the colors you choose in the Colors panel to simple object styles on the page.
Drag and drop color from the colorwell directly onto the object. Dropped colors will “bucket-fill” objects to replace a color that was previously applied. It will change the color of outlines on objects with stroke styles but no fill. It will change the top stroke color on lines with cased line styles or other multi-stroke effects. Drag and drop color can also be used on text.
In all cases, when a color is quick-dropped onto a object, the style of that object is replaced with a new ad-hoc style. This avoids unintentional changes to master styles in the Library.
To Use the Color Wheel:
Across the top of the Color window are a series of icons. The first icon opens a Color Wheel that allows you to pick the hue and saturation from the wheel, the value from a slider on the side, and adjust the opacity/transparency from a slider on the bottom.
To Pick Up Existing Colors from Your Drawing with the Magnifying Glass:
The Color Picker Magnifying Glass is a great color tool for accurately picking colors from an existing drawing. Use the magnifying glass to pick colors off of existing symbols and styles, photographs, art images, inspiration maps, or other color palettes you have found.
- Choose the magnifying glass and move your cursor anywhere on your screen. It magnifies the pixels below it.
- Click anywhere on your screen to pick the color of any pixel.
To Save Colors in the Swatch Drawer:
You can save up to 300 temporary swatches at one time (open the Colors panel and the drawer to the maximum size to see all 300 swatches.)
- Open the Swatch drawer at the bottom of the Colors panel by dragging on the bottom drawer knob.
- Save colors you are working on by dragging them to the swatches.
- Delete swatches by dragging a white swatch over them.
To Use Color Sliders:
The second icon opens the Sliders portion of the picker, where sliders control all the normal color picking schemes: Gray Scale, RGB, CYMK, and HSB. Numeric values representing color can also be entered.
HINT: CMYK colors are typically recommended when you are creating a graphic for print publication and want precise control over the printed colors. All colors used throughout are calibrated and subject to a color-controlled and calibrated workflow if you use one.
To Use Color Palettes:
The third icon opens the Color Palettes portion of the Color window. When considering a new color scheme or creating a new series of styles and symbols, Color Palettes is a great place to start. Color lists are presented from a drop-down palette menu. There are a few default color palette lists, including Web Safe Colors.
The strength of the Color Palettes is that you can make your own. Use the Magnifying Glass to select just the right colors. This is an excellent way to put a consistent set of colors at your fingertips. Additionally, color palettes created here can be shared with others and are available in all other applications that use the Colors panel (your List and Image Palettes are stored in the ~user > Library > Colors folder).
To create your own color list, choose New from the action menu. A new unnamed list will be opened, containing only the color currently in the large color well at the top of the window. Rename the list using the action menu.
Using any of the color selection methods described below, drag-and-drop colors from the color well or a mini-well in the bottom Swatch drawer into the list window. Alternatively, select a color and click “+” below the list window to add it to the list. Repeat selecting colors using any method, adding colors to the list.
Double-click on list items to give each of the colors a meaningful name. You can easily find colors by typing part of the name into the Search field below the List window.
To Use the Image Palette:
The fourth icon opens the Image Palettes. The Spectrum Palette is loaded by default, but you aren’t limited to it. You can open any picture you have, and use it as a palette, by choosing New From File or New From Clipboard from the Palette menu below the picture. You can also drag-and-drop images directly from the Image Browser into the image-well.
Once you have one, you can pick any color from within it, just by clicking. Or you can drag and watch the colors change. A tiny white square will show you exactly where you are. Drag-and-drop colors from the large color well to the bottom Swatch drawer for later use.