Indesign Colour Picker

There are several methods to choose colour in Adobe Indesign, including the new Color Theme tool introduced in Indesign CC 2014.

Let's first look at the standard methods of choosing colour which have been part of the program since its creation several years ago. Before we address the method of changing colours we first need to select the object with the Selection tool, or in the case of text with the Type tool. In the former case make sure that either fill or stroke is overlapping the other at the bottom of the toolbox. In the case of text it's usually the fill colour that we want to change; coloured strokes usually look amateurish except in large type.

The most obvious method of adding a colour is via the Colour Picker which opens when we now double-click on the fill or stroke icon at the bottom of the toolbar. Note that there are several ways we can select a colour here. On the left of the dialog box we have the colour field and vertical colour slider. To simply choose a colour which looks good first select the range of colours by clicking in the vertical colour slider, whereupon the colour field will change to a large gradient of either warm or cool colours. Now we click inside the colour field to pinpoint the colour we wish to add to the object or text. Then hit OK to close the dialog box.

Alternatively we can change the colour by entering numerical values into the fields on the right. Here we have RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colour fields, as well as CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black), HSB (Hue, Saturation, Brightness) and Lab colours. We also have hexadecimal numbers at the bottom and a Web Safe check box.

RGB colours are generally used for digital print media and web or screen based media. Flyers are usually printed digitally for print runs of up to 1000. For over 1000 copies we usually print using the CMYK method, where colour plates are used in a printing press. Traditionally this was the cheaper method of printing over 1000 copies, but digital printing is getting cheaper each year, so the slower offset printing method may be phased out in future.

HSB and Lab colours are sometimes used by print professionals and commercial photographers. Hexadecimal colours are sometimes used by web designers - there are a thousand colours in the hexadecimal library, and the colours are denoted by a combination of numbers and letters. Only Web Colours are sometimes also used by web designers - when this check box is ticked the colour field is reduced to bands of colours. This is to assure colour consistency between different web browsers. However, since 2011 all monitors can now display millions of colours as opposed to the previous 15,000 colours, and so possibly Only Web Colours (or Web Safe) is not so relevant these days.

Most large companies will have a Style Guide produced by their designers to keep documents consistent in appearance. These style guides will contain the RGB, CMYK and hexadecimal colour formulas, as well as guidance on font type and general appearance.

Tom Gillan has been training Indesign to corporate clients in Sydney for seven years. You can learn more about Indesign when you click this link.

This article was published on 30 Nov 2015 and has been viewed 454 times
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