How to Create and Save Custom Color Swatches in Photoshop

How to Create and Save Custom Color Swatches in Photoshop

August 14, 2019 10 By Peter Engel


– [Instructor] Hello and
welcome to this Design Cuts video tutorial today. We’re going to look at creating and using custom colour
schemes in Photoshop, and a few things to be aware
of with colour schemes. I’m going to start
with the swatches panel because we really need
to have a look at that and just understand some
of the ways that it works before we start. The swatches panel
is what came with this brand-new document. I’ve just created
a new document. This is what my swatches
panel looks like. Let’s go and create
another new document with File and then New. I’ll just click OK, and it again has the same
colour swatches panel. Let’s go back to the first
document that we created and let’s look at this
yellow colour here. I have the move tool selected. I’m just gonna take
this yellow colour and I’m gonna drop it
onto the trash can. So the last colour in the colour
palette in this document here is now blue. Let’s go and see what just
happened to our new document. Well, it lost the
yellow colour as well. So these colour swatches
are a little bit fragile. If you remove a colour
from an open swatch here in this document, then it’s going to disappear
from the other open documents. If you don’t want
this to happen, then you need to protect
your colour palette so that that doesn’t happen. And the smartest way
to do that is to, before you start working
with colour swatches, go and save the default
one or whatever it is that you’ve built up over time, so that whatever happens,
you’re not going to lose it. Here’s how you can do that. Open up the swatches panel
and click the flyout menu. You’re gonna click
Save Swatches. At this point, you’ll
be taken to the location where the swatches for this
particular version of Photoshop are stored, and if you
don’t get taken there, then you need to find
this and put them there. It’s in my user area, so
there’s my Helen area. That’s my user name. It’s in
AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe
Photoshop CC 2017. Now if you’ve got multiple
versions of Photoshop installed as I have, you need to
choose the Photoshop version that matches the one
that you’re using here. Otherwise, they’re going to
be difficult to find later on. So even though I have
2018 installed right now, I’m using 2017. So I need to make sure that
my colour swatch is saved into my 2017 folder. And inside that folder,
it goes into Presets, and then of course,
into Colour Swatches. Now I’ve already got a
saved version of this but I’m doing this
now in November, so let’s call this
November 2017 Colours. It’s been saved as
an ACO swatches file, and I’ll click Save. Now this means
that if I go ahead and delete any of these colours, I can always get
my swatches back. So let’s go and do just that. I’m going to delete my
colours not in this panel here but I’m going to do it
through the preset manager because it’s just quicker there. I’ll open the flyout menu and
I go to the preset manager. The preset manager shows me
all of the current swatches in this document. I’m going to select one and
I’ll shift + click up here, so I’ve got a whole lot of them that we’re just about to delete. I’m only doing that
because I’m confident that I have saved
the original set so I could always get them back. I’ll click Done. You can see now that
my swatches panel has a lot less colours in it
than it did to start off with. So if you had deleted colours
from your swatches panel and thought afterwards,
“That was not the best idea. “I want my colours back,” then
you can go and get them back, but before we do that,
let’s just confirm that this is the same in
both documents, so again, because we’ve removed colours
from the swatches panel, it’s affecting all our
open documents right now. I’ll open the flyout menu, and I’m going to choose
Replace Swatches. What I’m going to do
is replace this set with the set that I
have previously saved. I don’t have to save the
changes to these swatches unless I really wanted to. I don’t want to. I just want to go back
and get that full set that I had a few minutes ago. So I’ll say no to
saving the changes, and I’ll go and get my
November 2017 colours and just load them up. And here again are our colours. So I suggest that before
you do any work at all with colour swatches that you
go and save the current set. Just in case things go west,
you want to have your set saved so you can always
get back to them. So now let’s have a look at creating our own
custom colour swatches. I have a photograph here that
has some really nice colours in it; there are lots of sort
of fruit colours, oranges and greens and yellows
and browns here. I want to sample some
colours out of this image. I’ve only opened this
image for the sole purpose of getting a colour
swatch out of it. So anything I do to the image, I don’t actually plan
saving the image, so the original
will be quite safe. I’ll choose Image>Mode, and
then I’ll choose Index Colour, and choose to flatten layers. Index Colour flattens
the colours in the image and at this point, I can
select how many colours I want to save. Well, I’m gonna set this to
120 colours, and I’ll click OK, and that’s limited the colours
in this image to 120 colours. If we choose now Image
>Mode and Colour Table, we’ll see that 120 colours
that Photoshop has extracted from this image. You can vary the number 120
and make it more or less as you wish. At this point, I want to
save this colour table ’cause I want to be able
to use these colours, so I’ll click Save. We’re going back to that
exact same location, so again, in your User folder, AppData/Roaming/Adobe/Adobe
Photoshop CC, whatever version
you happen to using, Presets, and Colour
Swatches is where it goes on a Windows machine. Now interestingly, the November and October
colours aren’t here. The reason for this is
that we’re about to save a colour table, an ACT
file, and a few minutes ago, we were working with ACO
files, so we’re just not seeing any ACO files in this folder. They’re there; we’re
not seeing them. I’m gonna save this
and call it Fruit because it has sort of
fruit colours in it, and it’s about to be saved
as a Colour Table (ACT) file. I’ll click Save. At this point, I don’t need
this image or this document any longer, so I’m
just going to close it, and I do not want to save it because it’s in index colour
mode, the color’s all flattened, the image is flattened,
I don’t want to save it, so I’ll click No. So what if with this
new document that I
had created earlier I want to use the new fruit
colours that I’ve created? Well, I know already
that I saved these. So they’re saved away. I can get them
back really easily. So let’s go to the flyout menu and let’s replace
these swatches here with the colour table
that we just saved. I’ll click Replace Swatches. Now I get to go
to the same folder that we’re storing our colour
swatches in, and at this stage, we’re just seeing the ACO files but we know that
we had an ACT file, so we’re just going to go
here to Colour Table (ACT) and here is our fruit.act file. I’ll click on it,
and I’ll click Load. So now my colour swatches
are showing the colours that I sampled from
the fruit image, which are the colours
that I want to work on in the current project. Of course, this other image
that’s open at the same time, it’s colour swatches
are now these exact
same colours as well. At any time in the future, we can go back to the
original set that we had that we saved by going
to the flyout menu, choose Replace Swatches, we will go and select the most
recent save of our colours, click Load, and they’re
all loaded here for us. So just be sure to
save your swatches before you start messing
around with them. If you need to delete swatches, then you can go to
the preset manager. It’s the easiest place
to see your swatches and delete any that
you don’t want. You could also go from this menu and replace the
current set of swatches with a different
set of swatches. You can also load
additional swatches. So we could load the fruit
ones at the end here. So let’s just go and get the
fruit ones and click Load, and they’re now going to
be appended to the end of the current swatch library. But you might find
this process of simply adding the swatches ends
up with a swatches panel that’s just full of
colours that you don’t use. I prefer the Save option, and then replacing them with
the colours that you need as in when you do. I hope that you’ve
enjoyed learning these Photoshop colour
swatch techniques. Let us know what you think
in the comments below and give us a thumbs-up
if you liked the tutorial. Until next time, I’m Helen
Bradley for Design Cuts.