Tagged: color

Finding the perfect color combo

Looking for color combinations for your next Web project? There are plenty of these Web-based color combo sites out there, with my personal favorite being Adobe’s Kuler. Kuler is great in that it allows you to work with CMYK values, and upon completion, download an Adobe Swatch Exchange document you can import into all your Adobe Creative Suite applications. All the Creative Suite 4 applications have integrated Kuler into the program, so this option will most likely be the default for designers using Adobe products. Perhaps the king of color combo sites is Colourlovers, where there are countless color palettes already built, or you can create your own. You can also click a link next to each color to find photos using that color from iStockphoto. ColorBlender is a fairly straight-forward color combo site which allows you to create and share color palettes, and download files containing your colors for use with other design applications. A unique feature to ColorBlender (though I couldn’t get it to work) is the ability to match the color you create on screen to the closest Pantone color match. ColorCombos has yet another Web-based color combo exploration tool. Simply add a Hex color value into an input box and select the complimentary colors option. Simple! Virtually all color combo sites allow you to create and share your custom color palettes, so whichever one you choose, you probably can’t go wrong.

InDesign color swatches panel shortcuts

Everyone knows you can revert to the default colors (no fill, black stroke) in Adobe InDesign color panel simply by hitting the D key. Here are a few more helpful shortcuts to file away in your mental rolodex.

  • D = Revert to default colors
  • X = Switch between fill and stroke
  • Shift + X = Swap the fill and stroke colors
  • / = Change the fill or stroke color to [None]
  • J = Switches application of color formatting to frame or text

By the way, you can only use these shortcuts when you do NOT have the type tool active in a selected text frame. That’s probably obvious, but I thought I would point it out just in case.

Pantone Goe System libraries available for Adobe Creative Suite

If you recall reading my announcement of the Pantone Goe System back in September of 2007, you’ll be happy to know that you can now download the entire Pantone Goe System color libraries for Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop from the Pantone Web site. The free download requires you to register with an annoying amount of personal information (address, phone number, etc…) but I guess that’s the price we pay for being on the cutting edge. That being said, I haven’t come across any printers or designers using the Goe System as of yet, so there’s probably no rush. Still, it’s nice to have nearly double the amount of Pantone colors available.

Getting accurate colors when printing proofs from InDesign

In response to a reader question, David Blatner over at InDesign Secrets has offered some helpful tips and explanations regarding InDesign and getting accurate color proofs. On of my favorite tips from the article is to completely turn off Color Management in the print driver for your particular printer. Once you’ve done all the color management in Photoshop and InDesign, a printer driver can mess it all up. Turn that sucker off and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache.

Adjust skin tones in Photoshop easily

One of the most difficult color adjustments to do is skin. Too much red and you look sunburnt, not enough and your skin takes on a shade of yellow that can only be compared to an infants dirty diaper after eating peas. In the photo below, the handsome devil on the right looks pretty good, but that ugly guy on the left looks like he spent a little too much time in the sun the day before.

Original image with redish skintones

Original image with redish skintones

Many times, adjustments made with either Levels or Curves can destroy detail and affect colors you don’t want to change. Here’s another way that isn’t quite as drastic and limits the adjustment only to the colors you want. Hue/SaturationFirst, select the area you want to edit (in this case, the face) and feather the selection a little to create a soft edge. Now, create an Adjustment Layer using the adjustment layer button at the bottom of the layers palette and select Hue/Saturation. By using an adjustment layer, we don’t lose the original and don’t have to bother saving the adjustment as a copy. Next, from the drop down menu, select the color you wish to adjust, in this case it’s Red. Now start moving the sliders around and watch the unwanted color disappear. Or if I really WANTED to look sunburned, I could add more red to the already red areas. You can see the results of a slight Red adjustment in the photo below. Notice that only the red areas were affected.
Adjusted skintones

Adjusted skintones

The changes I made were purposely drastic (the skin tone now looks too flat) to show the differences. Obviously, you must look at each image individually and adjust accordingly. The guy on the left is still ugly, but at least he doesn’t look sunburned!

Save your sanity, use CMYK Preview in Photoshop

ps_cmyk_previewI’m always amazed to see some print designers working in the RGB color space. It’s like a mechanic working on a car in the dark, you just don’t know what you’ll get when he’s done. Many filters and some color correction features only work in the RGB color space, but that doesn’t mean you have to “fly blind.” Try hitting Command + Y or select View>Proof Colors from the menu bar to see what your image will look like when converted to CMYK using your particular color settings. Many times, it will drastically alter your expectations and the results of your color edits. It will also allow you to continue using those filters and edits for color – and still know what you’ll get when you’re all done.

Correcting washed-out color photos in Photoshop

Many times you are stuck with a washed-out photo from digital camera or scanned photo. Most people who try, find that quick adjustments in Photoshop’s Levels or Curves dialogs will certainly boost the colors up, but they also destroy all the details in the photo. Fortunately, Photoshop offers layer modes! Make a duplicate of the photo on another layer, the easiest way is hitting Command + J. Then, set the layer mode of the newly created layer to Overlay. This should really boost the color & contrast, but not mess with your highlights and shadows.