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Design

Quick Tip: Enhance Your Designs With Adobe Color in InDesign

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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Adobe has made some exciting new changes to the way InDesign manages color. Let’s review what you need to know about the newly renamed Adobe Color CC (formerly Adobe Kuler), and how it can improve your designs and the efficiency of your workflow in InDesign.

1. Using Adobe Color CC to Create Color Themes

A really fantastic feature of CC is the integration of the InDesign software with the online Adobe Color platform, which you can use to create your own color palettes (Color Themes) with enhanced creativity and ease. You can create themes in the desktop or mobile app, or create themes in Illustrator or Photoshop. 

Let’s learn how to use the platform and apply Color Themes to your InDesign documents using the online Adobe Color platform.

Step 1

Open InDesign CC and open your internet browser. Ensure that you are logged in to Creative Cloud.

In your browser navigate to Adobe’s online home for creating Color Themes. You can play around with the color wheel, adjusting the Color Rule on the left-hand side to different settings, such as Monochramatic or Complementary, to produce different palettes. 

adobe color cc

The wheel translates the colors to RGB by default, but you can adjust the colors to CMYK by clicking on the RGB values just below a selected color to open a drop-down menu. Of course, you can also alter the colors in InDesign directly, which we’ll take a look at in a moment.

CMYK conversion

Step 2

Once you’re happy with a Color Theme, you can choose to save it for use in InDesign. 

Click the Save button at the top left corner of the screen and rename the theme as something memorable. In this example, I saved a palette of icy blues and moss greens as Winter Blues and Greens

There’s no need to save the theme to your computer, as the theme will be stored in Adobe Color, which will be accessible directly from InDesign.

save a theme

Step 3

You can also choose to lift colors from an image, like a more sophisticated version of the Eyedropper Tool in InDesign. 

Remaining in your browser, click on the small camera icon at the top right of the screen. You will be prompted to choose and open an image from your computer. I've chosen this image, a glamorous shot of a woman in a red dress. The image has a variety of color tones I'd like to pick up in Adobe Color.

create from image

Adobe Color will automatically pick up a palette of different colors from the image. You can also adjust the Color Mood of the theme; in this example the tones are picked out in a Colorful mood.

Colourful Mood

This example shows tones picked out with a Muted mood.

Muted Mood

Once you’re happy with the Color Theme, you can save it as we did with the blues and green above. I saved this theme as Glam Winter Colors.

save theme

2. Applying Color Themes to Your InDesign Documents

Step 1

Return to InDesign and File > Open the document you would like to apply color to.

Go to Window > Adobe > Adobe Color Themes to open the Color Themes panel. The panel’s made up of three windows: Create, Explore, and My Themes. 

Under Create, there’s a smaller, more simplified version of the color wheel that you can use to create new Color Themes as you work. 

Create in panel

Under Explore, you’re presented with a library of pre-loaded Color Themes from Adobe, which is a fantastic tool if you’re really stuck for color ideas.

Explore Themes

Finally, under My Themes, you will find your pre-saved Color Themes. Here, as you can see, both Winter Blues and Greens and Glam Winter Colors are waiting, ready to be used in the document.

My Saved themes

Step 2

Before you start applying color, you can choose to add a Color Theme to your collection of Swatches in InDesign. 

Go to Window > Color > Swatches to open the Swatches panel. Back in the Adobe Color Themes panel, under My Themes, click Actions to the bottom right of your chosen Color Theme to open a drop-down menu. Select Add to Swatches Panel.

Add to swatches

Your colors will be added to the Swatches panel. Not only that, InDesign CC has also helpfully grouped them into a folder with the title of your Color Theme. How organized! 

Swatches panel

Step 3

If you didn’t save the Color Theme in CMYK mode, and you’re putting together a print document, no worries. Simply Control-Click (Mac OS) or Right-Click (Windows) on an individual swatch in the Swatches panel, choose Swatch Options, and select CMYK from the Color Mode drop-down menu. Click OK.

swatch options

Now you can start applying your new colors to elements in your document. This magazine cover really benefits from having a color palette with various light and dark tones which contrast against and yet complement the image beautifully.

final color application

With Adobe Color CC you can create an advanced technical workflow in color without compromising on creativity. In fact, the useful features provided by the Adobe Color platform can be a great way of stimulating your creative thinking. 

Happy coloring! 

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