Photoshop

Colour

Swatches Palette

The Swatches palette provides another way to select colours. You can add, name and delete colours, load colour libraries and create your own custom libraries.

Displaying the Swatches Palette and Selecting Colours

To display the Swatches palette:

Swatches palette The swatches are the small squares of colour organized in the palette. When you hold the pointer over the swatches, it turns into an eyedropper. Clicking a swatch with the eyedropper will set a new foreground colour. To set the background colour, Alt-click (Option-click) on a swatch. When the eyedropper hovers over a colour, a tool tip will appear showing the colour's name.

Swatches Palette Menu

Swatches palette menu The Swatches Palette menu contains commands for viewing and managing swatches as well a list of swatch libraries (not shown) that can be loaded into the palette. Many of these libraries pertain to print output and, therefore, aren't relevant to Web graphics.

Display Options

Swatches displayed as Small List The default swatch arrangement is called Small Thumbnail and the palette diagram above was set to this option. The other option is Small List which is pictured here. It displays the swatch colours and names in a vertical list. To switch between the display options, select its name from the palette menu.

Managing Swatches

You can add, rename, duplicate and delete swatches in the palette.

Add a Colour to the Swatches:

  1. Display the colour as a foreground colour in the Toolbox or Colour palette.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Click the New Swatch button New Swatch button in the Swatches palette.
    • Select New Swatch from the palette menu.
    • Hold the pointer over an empty part of the palette and it will turn into a paint bucket icon. Click to add the foreground colour as a swatch.
    • Right-click (Ctrl-click) on any swatch to access the context menu and choose New Swatch.

Colour Swatch Name dialog

  1. The Colour Swatch Name dialog will appear unless you used the New Swatch button to add a swatch. Enter a name for the new colour and click OK. The new swatch will appear at the end of the swatches.

Rename a Swatch

  1. Right-click (Ctrl-click) on the swatch to access the Colour Swatch Name dialog.
  2. Type in a name and click OK.

Duplicate a Swatch

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Click on the swatch you want to duplicate and choose New Swatch from the palette menu.
    • Click on the swatch you want to duplicate and then right-click (Ctrl-click) and choose New Swatch from the context menu.
    • Drag the swatch you want to duplicate onto the New Swatch button and release the mouse button.
  2. Enter a name for the duplicated swatch in the Colour Swatch Name dialog and click OK.

Delete a Swatch

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Drag the swatch onto the Delete Swatch button (trashcan icon) and release the mouse button.
    • Right-click (Ctrl-click) on the swatch and choose Delete Swatch from the context menu.
    • Hold down the Alt (Option) key and hold the pointer over the swatch. It will appear as a scissors icon. Click to delete the swatch.

Working With Libraries

A swatch library is collection of colour swatches. Photoshop comes with a number of preset libraries. Some of them are geared for Web graphics and some for print work. You can load a library into the Swatches palette, restore the default swatches and save your own custom colours in a permanent library file.

Load a Swatch Library

You can load a library of swatches into the Swatches palette and can choose whether you want to add (append) them to the current swatches or replace the current swatches with the library.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Select a library name from the palette menu. (Swatch library names have an .aco file extension.) A prompt message will ask you whether you want to replace the current swatches with the new library. Click Append to add, click OK to replace, or click Cancel to abort the operation.
    • If the library isn't listed in the menu, choose the Load Swatches command, navigate to the .aco file on your hard drive, select it and click Load. This will automatically append the library to your current set of swatches without prompting.
    • To replace the current swatch set without receiving a prompt, choose the Replace Swatches command in the palette menu. Navigate to an .aco file on your hard drive, select the file name, and click Load.

Restore Default Swatches

  1. Choose Reset Swatches from the palette menu.
  2. A prompt message will ask you whether you want to replace the current swatches with the default library. Click Append to add, click OK to replace, or click Cancel to abort the operation.

Save a Custom Swatch Library

After you've added your own swatches to the palette, your new swatches will appear the next time you open Photoshop unless you delete the Preferences file. To maintain a permanent copy of your new colours, you can save the current set of swatches as a custom library file that you can load from your hard drive or copy to a disk and use on another computer.

  1. Choose Save Swatches from the palette menu.
  2. The Save dialog will appear with a default file name. Type in your own name for the library and retain the .aco extension.
  3. Click the Save button.

The .aco file can be saved anywhere on your hard drive. If you want the library to appear in the palette menu, save it to the Presets/Swatches (Presets/Color Swatches) folder in the Photoshop application folder. To prevent a library from appearing in the palette menu, move the file out of the aforementioned folder. You will have to restart the application to see changes in the palette menu's library list.

Swatches Palette Summary


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