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Using the Color Picker

To display the Color Picker in either Photoshop or ImageReady, you can click the Foreground Color or Background Color selection box located in the Toolbox and on the Color Palette. For now, click the Foreground Color in the Toolbox.

You can use other Color Pickers instead of Photoshop's own, but as discussed in the previous chapter, you should stick with Photoshop's default Color Picker. This is the one we're going to cover here.

After you have the Color Picker open, notice the spectrum strip that runs down the middle-right side of the Color Picker. By default, you are working in the HSB color model (indicated by the radio button next to the "H"). Clicking on any color area in the spectrum strip moves you to a specific point in the hue component of a color. You can also use the small triangles on the side of the spectrum strip to slide to the hue you want to use. Click somewhere in the green area of the strip. The color field window directly to the left of the color strip displays all the variations of that particular color:

  • The upper-left corner of the color field box represents 100% brightness of the hue you chose on the color strip. According to the HSB color model, when a color is 100% bright with 0% saturation, the resulting color is white.

  • The upper-right corner of the color field represents full brightness and full saturation of the color you chose on the color strip. If you move the color circle to the upper right, you see green in the preview box, right?

  • The lower-left of the color field box represents 0% brightness and 0% saturation of the color you chose on the color strip. The resulting color is black.

  • Similarly, the bottom-right corner of the color field box represents 100% saturation, but 0% brightness of the color. So this area, like the lower-left corner, is also black.

Click the color field box to make a choice of saturation and brightness for the hue you chose on the color strip. The box to the right of the spectrum strip should now show two colors: The top color is the one you just selected, and the bottom color is the current color (soon to be dethroned) of the Foreground box (see Figure 3.8). If you already have green selected as your Foreground color, you might want a darker green or a green with more blue. This box shows your new green choice next to the old green so you can make an intelligent comparison.

Figure 3.8 Note the triangle icon with an exclamation mark inside (for CMYK colors) and the cube icon (for Web colors). If you've chosen a color and see either of these icons, it means the color you've chosen isn't safe for one or both purposes. If you need only Web colors, check the Only Web Colors box and only Web-safe colors are displayed.

Click OK to close the Color Picker.

And for All the Artistic Accountants Out There...

You can also enter color values numerically into the Color Picker if you need a precise color and you know the numbers. Entering R:75 G:185 B:50 gives you a nice medium green, for example.

By default, the Photoshop Color Picker displays hue on the color strip, and saturation and brightness in the color field. If you'd prefer a different method of choosing a precise color, click on either the S or the B buttons and see how the color strip and the color field change the display of components for a color.

Exploring the ImageReady Color Palette

In ImageReady, RGB is your only choice, because the Web is the final destination because Web images are meant to be displayed only on monitors, and monitors display color as RGB information. For this reason, the ImageReady Color Picker is a little different from the one found in Photoshop.

As in Photoshop, you can have the full array of available colors displayed and when the cube icon appears to the right of the color choice box you can click the cube to make the color Web-safe (see Figure 3.9). You might find it easier to just click the Only Web Colors box at the bottom left of the dialog box; with this selected, every color you choose works for the Web.

Figure 3.9 The ImageReady Color Picker enables you to enter the hexadecimal value for Web colors (or copy down the info if you need it) in the box marked #, just as you would when using Photoshop.

Painting with the Color Palette

The Color palette is a pretty unappreciated and certainly underutilized tool, yet it offers the availability of the Color Picker and a few more tricks to boot. Click on the Color palette tab, or choose Window, Show Color from the menu (or press F6).

The coolest thing about the Color Palette is what I call "color on-the-fly" (that's not a real name, it's just my moniker). Take that green color you just picked. Let's say you've made a bunch of green paint strokes to create a four-leaf clover, and now you need to make a red doodle. Move the R slider to the right, pull the G and B sliders to the left, and ba-da-boom ba-da-bing, you've got red on the run. (Note: In General Preferences, Dynamic Color Sliders must be checked to perform this feat. If this box is not checked, the sliders on the Color palette are ordinary sliders—they do not update the current color mixture.)

You can also use the Color Ramp (the spectrum strip running along the bottom of the Color palette) to get to the general vicinity of a color, and then use the color sliders to hone in your choice. Note that as you adjust the color sliders, the Foreground Color Selection box changes to the color of your choice. The Color palette menu (accessed by clicking the downward-facing triangle) enables you to access additional options, as seen in Figure 3.10.

Figure 3.10 In both Photoshop and ImageReady, you can choose to use a palette filled only with Web-safe colors (or any other custom color palette you've created). You can load the Web-safe palette from the Palette menu (the circle with the triangle inside) in Photoshop. In ImageReady, the Web palette is the default, but you can access other color palettes.

Using Color Swatches

The Swatches Palette, shown in Figure 3.11, is for the guy or gal on the go. This palette contains preselected colors for those who dislike all that clicking and sliding. You simply choose a color from the palette choices that appeal to you. Click the Swatches tab on the Color Palette to pop the Swatches Palette to the front.

Figure 3.11 The Swatches palette also offers more palettes, and like the Color palette they are loaded from the Palette menu (the circle with the triangle inside on the top left of the palette).

Click the color of your choice in the Swatch Palette, paint a little, click a new color, and paint some more. That's it; that's all. Just paint and click.

A major benefit of the Swatch palette is that you can create/save/load specific color palettes to use on multiple images. This is great if you have a specific palette for Web colors, or if your company's corporate color scheme is on file.

To add a specific color to the Swatches palette, choose your color using the Color Picker, the Color Palette, or Eyedropper. Then move your cursor over the empty area found at the bottom of the Swatches palette. Your cursor converts to the Paint bucket. Just click in the empty area to add the new color.

You can load and save Swatches palettes by clicking on the Palettes menu (see Figure 3.11) and choosing Load Palette or Save Palette, depending on what you want to do.

I Want More Swatches!

If you want to load Web-safe color swatches—additional Swatch files can then be found in the Presets, Color Swatches folder of your Photoshop directory. Look around if you're in Photoshop (as opposed to ImageReady), as there is a folder marked Photoshop Only (referred to as ACO files).

If you want the default Swatches file back, click the palette menu button again and choose Reset Swatches.

Pulling Apart Palettes Like a Teamster

All the Color palettes (or any of the palettes, for that matter) can be pulled apart at any time. Because we just wrapped up talking about the Swatches palette, let's use this palette as the example. Click the Swatches tab and, without letting go, drag it away from the rest of the Color palette group. You should see a dotted outline of the palette as you separate it from the others, as shown in Figure 3.12.

Figure 3.12 Palette groups can be broken apart by simply clicking on a palette tab and dragging the palette away from the group.

Because the grouped palettes offer you only one feature at a time, separating them gives you access to the best features of each color selection tool. Let's say you're sampling your color choices from the Swatches palette. Anytime you need to make slight variations of a color, you can just move over to the sliders on the Color palette, make your adjustments on-the-fly, and then go back to your original color on the Swatch palette. If you need a special color, click the Foreground color in the Toolbox. To use the Eyedropper tool just...whoops! We're getting ahead of ourselves! The point is, all these tools work together well when you know how to use them.

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