Adobe Color CC: Become a Master of Color
One of the fantastic features of Adobe CC is the Adobe Color CC (formerly Adobe Kuler) feature. This helpful online portal allows you to create ready-to-use color themes for your InDesign layouts, and it’s a great little tool for converting colors to CMYK, RGB, Hex and Lab formats.
It’s well worth a look even if you’re using an earlier InDesign version (CS4, CS5 and CS6). But if you’re a user of CC you’ll also be able to import color palettes directly into your InDesign artwork.
How to Use Adobe Color to Create Color Themes
Using the online Adobe Color platform, which you can use to create your own color palettes (or ‘Color Themes‘). You can create themes in the desktop or mobile Adobe Color app, or create themes in InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop.
Let’s learn how to use the app and apply Color Themes to your InDesign documents using the online Adobe Color platform.
Step 1: Browse Color Themes Manually
If you’re working in InDesign CC, make sure to open InDesign CC up and open your internet browser too. Ensure that you are logged in with your Adobe ID to Creative Cloud.
In your browser navigate to Adobe Color’s online color wheel. You can play around with the wheel, adjusting the Color Rule on the left-hand side to different settings, such as Analogous…
…or Compound, to create different color combinations and find colors that work well together as a group.
The wheel translates the colors to RGB format by default, but you can adjust the colors to CMYK by clicking on the RGB values just below a selected color to open a drop-down menu. You can also alter the colors in InDesign directly, which we’ll take a look at a bit later.
Step 2: Browse Color Themes Using a Photo
You can also choose to lift colors from an image, like a more sophisticated version of the Eyedropper Tool in InDesign.
Remaining in your browser, click on the small camera icon at the top right of the screen. You will be prompted to choose and open an image from your computer.
I’ve chosen a JPEG photo of an exotic toucan. The image has a variety of color tones I’d like to pick up in Adobe Color.
Adobe Color will automatically pick up a palette of different colors from the image. You can also adjust the Color Mood of the theme; in this example the tones are picked out in a Colorful mood…
…and this is a Muted combination. Hmmm, what else can we do…
…you can also go for a Custom combination and click to select your own colors from the image.
I’ve decided I like the Muted color combination best. Once you’re happy with the Color Theme, you can save it by clicking on the Save* button at the top-left of the window. Give the theme a name, here I’ve gone for ‘Muted Toucan Colors‘.
*You’ll need to be logged in with your Adobe ID to Creative Cloud to save the theme.
From the menu running along the top-left of the window you can click on My Themes to view your saved theme.
Step 3: Apply Your Color Themes in InDesign
To take advantage of this, you’ll need to have access to Adobe InDesign CC.
Return to InDesign and File > Open the document you would like to apply color to.
Go to Window > Adobe > Adobe Color Themes to open the Color Themes panel. The panel’s made up of three windows: Create, Explore, and My Themes.
Under Create, there’s a smaller, more simplified version of the color wheel that you can use to create new Color Themes as you work.
Under Explore, you’re presented with a library of pre-loaded Color Themes from Adobe, which is a great little tool if you’re stuck for color ideas.
Finally, under My Themes, you will find your pre-saved Color Themes. Here, as you can see, ‘Muted Toucan Colors‘ is waiting, ready for me to use in my document!
Before you start applying color, you can choose to add a Color Theme to your collection of Swatches in InDesign. Go to Window > Color > Swatches to open the Swatches panel.
Back in the Adobe Color Themes panel, under My Themes, click Actions to the bottom right of your chosen Color Theme to open a drop-down menu. Select Add to Swatches Panel. Your colors will be added to the Swatches panel. Not only that, InDesign CC has also helpfully grouped them into a folder with the title of your Color Theme. Nice and organized!
If you didn’t save the Color Theme in CMYK mode, and you’re putting together a print document, no worries. Simply Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) on an individual swatch in the Swatches panel, choose Swatch Options, and select CMYK from the Color Mode drop-down menu. Click OK.
Now you can start applying your new color swatches to elements in your document!
How to Use Adobe Color to Convert Color Formats
Even if you’re not a CC user, you can still get some great features out of Adobe Color.
One of these is to use Adobe Color to convert color formats quickly and easily. Say you have a CMYK swatch in InDesign, and want to convert that to an RGB, Lab or even Hex Code format (which is suitable for web design). Admittedly, you can convert CMYK colors to RGB values directly in InDesign, but using the Adobe Color app is super quick and easy. As a bonus, you can’t convert to Hex format unless you use the Color Picker feature in Adobe Photoshop.
Simply navigate to the Adobe Color color wheel, and type in your CMYK values underneath one of the swatch tabs beneath the wheel.
Adobe Color will automatically convert the CMYK color to RGB, Lab, HSB and Hex formats. It’s that easy!
This is a particularly useful feature if you’re designing within the restrictions of a branded color palette, and need to share color formats with web designers or developers quickly and easily.