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Aug 27, 2015

How to Use Advanced Color Tools in Photoshop

In today’s episode, we show you how to use advanced color tools in photoshop.  We’ll show you a unique set of tools that allow you to choose complimentary colors easily.  We’ll also show you how to spice up an advertisement and how to work with your color library and color swatches in photoshop.

THE POWER OF COLOR

Colors are always a huge part of an image.  Sometimes it can be extremely difficult to choose the colors for your desired output.  The method we show you today should make this process a lot easier.  Think of it as a color wheel on steroids.  On the color wheel you’ll see each of the colors and their complimentary colors.  The photoshop version of this is a lot more precise because it calculates the exact complimentary color based off the color you choose.

GETTING STARTED

The image we work on today is one of our ads from The Ultimate Guide to Retouching.  We start off with white text in our ad.  The goal is to change the colors to colors that compliment our image.  In order to do this, we need all of our color windows in an organized format.  We start off by going to Window —> Library.  That pulls up our color library panel.  Next we go to Window —> Color Themes.  We move our color theme next to our library panel.  Finally, we go to Window —> Color.

  • Make sure to keep your workspace as clean as possible.  It will make you more efficient in the long run.

SAMPLING COLORS 

Next we grab our eyedropper and we click on the skin tone of our subject in the image.  Then we choose our preferred option from our adobe color themes.  Next we click on the “set selected color from active color” button.  From there we choose complimentary colors.  Now our adobe color themes panel shows us the complimentary colors based off of the tone we chose with our eyedropper.   Long story short, this enables you to sample any color in any document and find it’s complimentary colors based off of adobe’s precise calculations.  Now we click on the “add to library” tab and all of those colors will show up in our color library.

63 Comments


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    Tom Dubowski

    How can you leverage this same technique while editing photos? Like if you wanted to split tone or apply some sort of filter that would complement a photo?

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    Nicholas Lutfi

    Great tutorial as always….However, I am currently using PS CS6 and cannot find these color windows and libraries you are referring to. Am I missing anything?….Or, is this unique to PS CC?
    Btw, I just finished watching The Ultimate Guide to Retouching – amazing! Great job! I totally learned a ton…

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    Matt Olson

    Aaron, this is AMAZING! No longer will I have to go to Adobe’s Kueler site, save my palate, load the file and then start using.

    THANKS!!!!

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    Raf Geekee

    Hey Aaron,

    Love this guide – It’s most definitely going to help my workflow.
    I do however have a related question regarding advanced colour usage which I hope you could touch on.

    I usually find myself in a position where I wish all instances of a colour to be slightly darker/lighter by the same amount. For example in an example of a website design, I might wish all heading colours change from #000000 to #EEEEEE.

    In my current workflow, I need to find all my Heading layers, Select them, Open up the text tool and update colour using the colour selector. This is fine, except for finding all headings in our layer structure.

    Using the method in this guide, I will select all Heading Layers and select the new colour from the theme. The difficult (I mean time consuming) thing still being: to dig around the layers and hopefully select all the Heading layers. (For organisation reasons, they can’t be grouped together).

    For the web developers, Its a 5 second job of changing the CSS hex value in one place and the colour changes everywhere.

    Is there a way to have a Library of colours, which are updatable. So that when any updates to the theme colour are made, the changes will be reflected on layers using it? Very much like changing CSS in one place can affect colours of all items using the class/id.

    I hope the question is clear and thanks again for the awesome videos!
    Regards,
    Raf

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    Mark Treen

    What a great resource! This is now my workflow for starting a graphic with text. I saved the window layout as a Workspace. It’s an awesome color workflow!

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    Madeline

    I have learned so much by watching your tutorials. You also make it fun. So, thank you THANK YOU.

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    Glen Bledsoe

    This is extremely useful information. I’m opening Photoshop now to test it out.

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    Julie Boyle

    How fantastic – did not know this existed and how easy to use and save. Thank you Aaron. Really look forward to learning something new each week from you.

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    Christopher Briscoe

    The BEST “F”ing video yet!!
    (You are probably aware of the free Adobe IOS app “Adobe Color” that lets you snap a photo, or choose 1 from your library, then shows you the color wheel choices, then sends it to you CC library. ) You’re the best, Aaron!

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    Frank

    Thanks for your videos. I have learned a lot watching them. I’m a ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ CS6 user and it appears you have advanced to Photoshop CC. Would it be possible to mark your videos to indicate those applicable to CS6? It would help save me the time of discovering that I don’t have the menu items you mention (e.g. Window/Libraries). Thanks again.

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    Carlos

    Awesome. Another very useful tutorial. My head is spinning on how it can be applied, not just to fonts, but to toning, highlights, shadows and anything else in a photograph whose color we play with in Photoshop. Thanks Aaron!

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    Daryl

    This is a great find! Now I can stop referencing a color wheel phone app and stay in photoshop…just wish this had come out a few months ago when I was working on an album jacket that had 24 layers of text that I had to change colors on individually LOL

    p.s. at the end, it put that other window at the bottom because you selected Phlearn Color 2, not 3 haha

    Thanks for another great free tip!

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    SYaz

    Hi, LOVED this video and got a lot out of it. Thank you so much.

    CS6 users note, this is possible in cs6 even though we don’t have Libraries or Adobe Color Themes… just use Swatches and Kuler 🙂 , all the same buttons are there. Very cool.

    Thank you again

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      Alistair

      Syaz can you explain more? I cannot see how you can do this using the cs6 colour swatch and colour settings
      Alistair

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        Sheryl

        Hi Alistair,

        I can’t find where you can download the add-on “Kuler” extension for CS6 anymore. So I won’t explain that…. However, you can use Adobe’s free online color wheel called Adobe Color CC if your not a CC user yet, like me. It’s really awesome. You can create themes, save your themes and Explore themes by others.

        I registered with Adobe so I could save the “Color Themes” I created using my own photos and those created by others that I like. It seems you’ll have to save the colors manually into your Swatch Panel in PS (the site gives you the RGB and HEX values for each color). Here is the Adobe Color website: https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/

        Quick summery how it works: If you want to find the complementary colors of a “Base Color” in an image you have > on the website, look for the symbol/button that looks like a “camera” (top/right) > click on it > locate your image and click “open” > the image will load.

        Now, you will see white circles around main colors in your image. You can drag these around if you wish. Next, select one of the circles (the circle will become bold to show you’ve selected it) > next, click on the symbol that looks like a “color wheel” (top/right) > NOW a theme is created > you will see the color you selected (Base Color) in the middle of a “Color Theme” > on the left side change the choices as you wish as Aaron did in the video, for example: Complementary or Triad color theme. The color boxes will change respectively – totally cool!! Oh, hit the “back” button on your browser if you want to go back to your image and select a different color as your “Base Color”. If you like a Color Theme remember to SAVE it before you go on.

        There are lots of other options to changing the colors. I hope this helps out. I don’t see a way to download saved themes or colors directly into our Swatches Panel. But, it’s not too hard to write the HEX numbers down and add them to the swatches panel in PS. But, I save all my themes online at the site.

        Sorry it took me so long to respond. If anything doesn’t make sense, let me know. 🙂 You’ll love it. It is a lot of “phun” to use the Adobe Color site. Enjoy!

        Sheryl

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    Tracy

    Arron,
    You have helped me learn so much about photoshop and I can’t believe you do all of these videos for FREE, You are so comical to watch!
    I purchased the retouching video today, it’s awsome!

    Thank you,
    Tracy

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    George

    My photoshop does not have library windows, extension windows is gray out. Are you using a third party plugin in photoshop how to do you install that to work color of wheel as you show on your video?

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    Kevin

    This is pretty cool, IS this only available in CC? I have CS6 and libraries and color wheel are not there. Is it available for CS6? Thanks!

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      Sheryl Yaz

      Hi Kevin… In CS6 it is called “Kuler”. Go to: Windows > Extensions > Kuler and the palette will open up. It works pretty much the same way as Aaron shows. It connects via the internet to color.adobe.com to see color theme libraries. Really cool.

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    steve drury

    WOW!!!!!!! what can i say. Outstanding. What I loved is learning about changing multiple text colors @ once. no where have i found this. This tutorial knocked it out of the park. easy to follow. step by step. Thank You Phlearn.

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    Lisa

    You have wowed me again! I didn’t know this existed! Your tutorials never disappoint. Thank you. I can see this all the time.

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    Omar

    Hi Aron, this is a great tutorial, BUT, there is a problem I just found out, and I’ll let you look into it to check if there is a solution. This is what happened. I opened one of my images, opened the windows and started sampling the skin tones, then I went and clicked the button to get the active color as a base color in the ACT window. BUT, and here comes the but, the color was totally off, it has the same RGB and HEX code but it’s totally different to what I sampled on my image (see uploaded SC). I work on ProPhotoRGB color settings from Lightroom to preserve as much color gamut as possible and 16bit depth. But seeing the color themes where totally off I converted the image profile to sRGB and then I could sample and get the color right. Apparently this will work only when your file color space is in sRGB and not on aRGB or ppRGB.

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    Thomas Keach

    Wow, what an excellent tutorial! I have a question, can you input several colors to the library and will they all show in the themes panel?

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    Alistair

    Hi Arron, is there any way to do this in ps 6?
    I don’t see how the swatch and colour panels can do this?
    thank you
    Alistair

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    jeanette Frizzell

    Wow!! that is amazing. I had no idea that was there. Woww!! You are amazing

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    Michael

    Dangit!! Now I gotta subscribe to PSCC too? You’re making life complicated and expensive… but i love ya!!

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    Lisa

    Love all your tutorials…i had no idea how to use the color tools! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

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    Jesse

    Your videos are great but one thing it would help us if you would let us know what virson of photshop you are using thank you a lotttttt.

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    Mark Day

    Hey Aaron, Excellent video – I have just one question- which probably demonstrates how of a novice I am with Photoshop. At around 3:10 you move the panels around (as you’ve tken up quite a bit of real estate’. That’s fine I can do that & like you am OCD enough to have to resize the panels to fit! What I am struggling with is moving the image around. I resize the image as usual to make it smaller, select the hand tool but the image doesn’t move when I drag – is there a setting I’m missing? Apols if this is on the basic side for your tutorials – it’s just that a quick Google didn’t help me solve this issue.

    Many thanks, Mark

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      JohnB

      You’re probably looking for ‘press F’. Basically Aaron is in the ‘full screen’ mode of Photoshop for the duration of the tutorial. Press F a few more times to go back to windowed mode. While in F mode you can pan about an image regardless of zoom level.

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    Marcelo Bass

    Hello: great tutorial!!. I tried to perform it in Photoshop CS 6 . Unfortunately it seem it is impossible do it in this version. The extension Adobe Color Themes is unavailable. Also, when browsing for Libraries in Window, it does not appears. All theses issues was founded in my Spanish (my lingua mater) version of Photoshop CS 6. Could somebody please give me indication in order to solve this problem? many many many Thanks.

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    Kirk Shultz

    Thanks Aaron. For those of us that don’t have the color themes in Photoshop, go to paletton.com. The The Palleton Color Schemer is a realy cool tool. You can bookmark color schemes that you’ve set up to return to at any time. Or, go to adobe.color.com for an online version of the one Aaron has in his version of PS.

    I don’t know how anyone can use one monitor. Whatever program I’m using – Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Vegas Pro, Pro Tools, TurboCad, Swift3D, etc – I always put my tools on one screen and leave one clean for my workspace. It drives me nuts having to move windows around to see my work.

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    Daniel

    What a usefull tutorial! thank you Aaron, I used to go to adobecolorcc.com but here is so much simple!

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    Letitia

    I just love your tutorials! User friendly, easy to understand, easy to follow, and always a laugh or two . I am a beginner and I’m learning so much from your tutorials because they don’t make me fall asleep – lol.

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    Reginald Bateman

    I am using the latest Photoshop CC and I do not see Libraries and Extensions in the Window menu drop-down!

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    jeanette Frizzell

    I could hardly wait to try this out. I took this photo of a wood dragon in someones yard. So decided to practice with the pen tool and your color tutorial. Which I set my workspace up the way you described. I am so thrilled. Your teaching is so good. I will try to put the original photo so you can see the difference. It won’t let me put both here so will do another comment. Thank you so much. I really learn a lot from your videos.

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    jeanette Frizzell

    Here is my original photo. I used the triad picked backround color and the text. So cool you are awesome.

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    myphotoshop44

    I don’t have the libraries or the adobe color under the window tab in CS6. Are they available at all in this version?

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      Mpho

      I also struggled to find the Adobe Color under the Window Tab. It took me a while to figure out where it was, it’s listed as Adobe Kuler under the tabs Window/Extensions/Kuler. I hope that helped. My next mission is to find the Libraries.

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    LucyAlia

    I still don’t see library in my photoshop can anyone share where to find it. I tried on windows but don’t see it there, is it a pluggin

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    LucyAlia

    I don’t seem to have the libraries, does any one know if we can load it into photoshop or could it be in a different section. can someone share

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    Henning Hansen HIH Ad.

    I received the Ultimate Guide to Retouching and look forward working and learning with it.
    The currant tutorial on how to use Advanced Color Tools in Photoshop is fantastic! BUT does not seem to work with CS6, which is what I have. I can open a color wheel in Kruler which is the same as color under windows, but there is no Color Library, no color theme. Any suggestions?

    2nd, Question: When are you coming out with the Natural Light Contest?

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      Sheryl Yaz

      Hi, you may already know this but if you log into color.adobe.com you can save your own color themes, create new themes based on photos and explore color themes (libraries) created by others.

      In Photoshop CS6, using the extension Kuler if you downloaded it from Adobe, I believe there is a button on the top that says “Browse” > under that tab there is a drop down button that allows you to choose to see other themes (like: “Highest Rated” or “Most Popular”) created by others on color.adobe.com, it is like seeing libraries of color themes. Under this tab is also where you see the color themes you’ve created and saved…. I’ve taken a screen shot of mine and uploaded it here. I hope this helps. Kuler is sooo amazing to use and this video session with Aaron explains it so well, it helped me a lot!!

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    María

    mi photoshop doesn’t have the libraries and extensions available.. do i have to download them? help 🙁 haha

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    Lucy Hall

    great videos !! i learn loads 🙂
    slight problem with this one, my photoshop doesn’t have the ‘adobe colour theme’ option ?
    Lucy

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    Teresa

    I also don’t have CC and therefore no libraries in windows etc. Just saw a brilliant idea to get complimentary colour. Go to ‘image’ then ‘adjustment’ then ‘invert’ (or use CMD + i) Using the brush tool and “alt’ chose the area that you want to have a complimentary colour of and then you will see the choice in the ‘foreground’ ‘background’ colours on the tool bar.

    I suppose you could use the ‘blur’ then ‘average’ technique used in the changing the baby’s skin technique to get an average complimentary colour.