Adobe Photoshop Tutorial Part 2: Working with Colors and Painting

Using the Swatches Palette

The Swatches palette contains “swatches” of preset and custom colors, which you can select to quickly apply a foreground or background color. To display the Swatches palette, select the Swatches tab from the Color palette, or select Swatches from the Window menu:

Swatches are pre-defined colors, which can be saved and loaded as related sets. Photoshop includes a number of color swatch presets, including Pantone and Trumatch presets, which you can select from the palette options menu:

Photoshop then asks if you want to replace the current swatches with the ones you selected, or if you want to append the new swatches to the current ones:

Click OK to replace the current swatches, or Append to add the new ones to the palette.

If you append the new swatches, you can click and drag the edges of the palette to enlarge it enough to display the new swatches:

You can also load a palette that’s been saved on your computer or on a disk by selecting Load Swatches from the options menu. This lets you save and load your own custom palettes on any computer with Photoshop installed.

To add your own color to a palette, make sure the color box containing the color you want to save is selected (the foreground or background color box in the Color palette) and then click in an empty area:

Over an empty area, the icon changes to a paint bucket, indicating that a swatch can be added. When you click with the paint bucket, Photoshop prompts you to name the new swatch:

Enter a name and click OK. The swatch then appears in the palette:

To delete a swatch, drag it to the trash icon in the lower right corner of the palette.

To save your custom colors, select Save Swatches from the palette options menu. In the Save dialog, browser to the location where you want to save the swatches, enter a name for them, and click Save:

Your swatches can now be loaded at any time using the Load Swatches command in the palette options menu.


You can also manage your swatches using the Preset Manager:

  1. From the Swatches palette options menu, select Preset Manager.

  1. Click Load to load a preset, or click the right arrow button next to the Preset Type drop-down menu to select from a list identical to the preset list included in the Swatches palette options menu.
  2. To create your own collection from colors in a preset, hold down the Ctrl button while you click each color you want. Selected colors appear with a thick black border:

  1. Then, click Save Set to save the colors you selected as a new set.

Using the Eyedropper Tool

The Eyedropper tool on the toolbox gives you another means of setting foreground and background color. Select the tool and then click anywhere on your image. The tool “lifts” the color of the pixel you clicked, making it the new foreground color (if the foreground color box is selected) or background color (if the background color is selected).

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