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Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Lesson 27 of 34

Color & Swatches Panels Basics

Erica Gamet

Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners

Erica Gamet

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Lesson Info

27. Color & Swatches Panels Basics


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:01:51
2 Document Set-Up Duration:15:39
3 Panels Duration:11:46
4 Toolbox Duration:08:22
5 The Adobe® Workspace Duration:05:17
6 Shortcuts Duration:05:33
7 Saving Files Duration:05:37
8 Guides Duration:12:42
9 Text Frames Duration:08:13
10 Shapes, Fill and Stoke Duration:07:43
11 Arranging and Modifying Shapes Duration:08:31
14 Pencil, Smooth and Erase Tools Duration:05:46
15 Strokes and Arrows Duration:13:33
17 Placing Graphics Duration:08:05
18 Placing PDFs Duration:04:22
19 Placing Multiple Files Duration:06:14
21 Specialty Frames Duration:05:52
22 The Links Panel Duration:21:34
23 High Quality Display Duration:06:48
24 Clipping Paths Duration:13:08
25 Transparency Duration:09:41
26 The Gap Tool Duration:03:55
27 Color & Swatches Panels Basics Duration:16:38
28 Eyedropper Tool Duration:10:03
29 Gradient Swatches Duration:05:31
30 Character Panel Duration:23:38
31 Paragraph Panel Duration:15:09
32 Spelling & Autocorrect Duration:06:42
33 Text Frame Options Duration:08:10
34 Printing and Exporting Duration:16:16

Lesson Info

Color & Swatches Panels Basics

So we've worked a lot with the images. Now we need to start adding a little bit more color. We've dabbled a little bit. We jumped into the swatches panel here and there, and the color panel once or twice, but let's take a closer look at the color panel that's there. I'm gonna jump back to this original file. Back to our annual report, and I wanna look and see what I have for color swatches first, and then we're gonna jump out to a page that doesn't have any swatches in it. So in here, in the swatches panel. I'm gonna pull swatches off, and I'm also gonna pull the color panel off. So they're floating separately. And generally, I start with the color panel first, but because we've already got this information or this file, with all this color information in it, I wanted to look and see what's in there. I have a lot of colors, and it seems like an awful lot, and it really is, because these colors here that are named with strange numbers on them, we'll talk about that in a second, those ac...

tually came in when I copied and pasted from Illustrator, right? So in an earlier section, when I grabbed the pie chart from Illustrator, copied it and pasted it in, it brought in all those strange colors with it, and I don't really need it. I have these nice named colors here, and that's basically the colors that I wanna use throughout this document, so the first thing I can do is I'm gonna come in here and choose from the panel menu up at the top here, I'm gonna choose Select All Unused, and those actually come up, because I'm not actually using those pie wedges that we copied and pasted. I went back to just the placed link. So, everything that got selected, it means the color's not even being used in this document. I'm gonna click the little trash can, and make those go away. And that's something you wanna do if you're bringing files from somebody else, it might have a whole bunch of colors that are in there that you really don't need, and you wanna get rid of, and you wanna do this with your own files when you send them off to a printer. Because you don't wanna send them saying, I've got five colors I'm using, and then suddenly there's 800 to choose from. And they can't tell the difference between them because you named them with the color values, which is what those were named with. So we wanna keep our swatches panel pretty clean, but I still see that I have several different colors that are being used, and I also have several flavors of black, and, at the top, I have a couple that look kinda special. I have this one called None, which is in brackets, and Paper, which is in brackets, also known as white, in this case, and I also have one called Registration, which I can't do anything with. I can't delete, and you shouldn't use. So just pretend Registration doesn't exist. It's very specialized, and nobody I know even uses it anymore, so we're not gonna worry about it, but we have to leave it there. So, how do these colors get into the swatches panel? We need to create them in the color panel to start with, so I'm gonna create a new document. I'm gonna create it completely from scratch, because I don't want any of that information coming in, and if you notice though, I do have these colors here in this particular document. And that's because I set, with no document open, I created all these swatches here, and that means that every new document I create from that point forward will have that color in it as well, which is great for demo purposes, but in this case, in the real world, I generally have very little in there at all. So I selected all those colors, and I'm deleting from this document. So you may see something like this, None, Registration, Paper, and Black will be there. You may also have Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. And I deleted those as well, so I don't see those. So, we have basically nothing in our swatches panel, and that's what we want. We wanna start from scratch on this one. What I wanna do is start with the color panel, and the color panel is where I'm gonna mix colors or put in color values if I know the color values of the colors I need. I'm gonna put them in here, and then, as I create ones that I like, I'm gonna move those into the swatches panel. So let's do that, and I have two different color modes. And we're not gonna talk a whole lot about color modes, but basically know that if you're going just to digital, you probably wanna work in RGB, which is Red, Green, and Blue. If you're going to print, you're probably going to work in CMYK, or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. When we created our new document, and we told it it was a print document, it automatically assumed that you're working in CMYK, because you're going to print. If you're going to both, you're gonna start with one document, and eventually one's gonna go off to print, and one's gonna go off to digital output, you wanna work in CMYK, because it's more restrictive. It has a smaller color gamut, so that you don't have as many colors to choose from, so it's more restrictive, and because we told it we were working in print, it already assumes we're gonna be in CMYK, and so if I choose an RGB color that is super bright, and can't be reproduced really well in print, it's gonna give me a warning to let me know that, you know, it might look great on screen, but it might not look so great when we go to print it, so it does want me to be aware of that, so we're gonna choose, let's do CMYK, 'cause that's what we set up, was a print one here, and then I can show you what happens when we print or select an RGB color that won't look so well when output. So how do we choose that? Well, up here under the panel menu, I have my color modes off to the side, so again, CMYK, RGB. I can also cycle through them by holding down the shift key, and just clicking on the color wheel down below, and just holding down the shift key and clicking, it cycles through each of those. So go back to CMYK, and if we're just picking several colors, like if we know this is going to go either to four-color print, so four color meaning that it's four color process, and we can print any color we can think of, within the color range of CMYK, we can just go ahead and select colors to our heart's content, out of this color spectrum here. So, for me, when I'm creating a new color, and mixing it, if I don't know the value of it, and I'm just going to visually do it, I'll create an image or a graphic on the side here, so that I can actually see the colors changing. Otherwise, I'm trying to see the color in this little icon here, or this even smaller icon here, or this even smaller icon here, so sometimes it's hard to see what the color truly looks like. So I generally just create some big square or something like that, so I can see as I'm mixing the color it will be applied to the item I have selected on my page. All right, so let's just come in here, and I'm just gonna click on an orange, and I think, okay, I like that. And I don't know, but I wanna save it right away. I think, okay, that looks decent, so the first thing I will do is go up to the panel menu, and choose Add to Swatches. And it's gonna add it down here, and we'll look at all these colors in just a second. Right now, we're just selecting color, and then adding it, and then once I do that, it switches to this color ramp, and it just basically shows me all the tints of that exact same color. But we're not gonna deal with the tints at this moment. All right, so we're gonna come in here, and I'm going to go ahead and hold down my shift key, and again cycle through till I get to CMYK. I overshot. There we go. CMYK, and we choose another color. Ooh, that's really bright. We don't want that. Let's go ahead with like a nice blue, and say Add to Swatches, and we'll cycle through again, just holding down the shift key here. And we'll do something bright, like yellow, and I'll add that as well. So now I can see those are the three colors that we just added, and they're named with the values of each color, how much C, M, Y, and K each color has. We're gonna change that in a minute, so again, we can cycle through, keep adding colors as we need. We can add 'em whenever we want. We don't have to do it all at the beginning. And again, I have this selected, so that I can see the changes that are being made, so let's come over to the colors that we just created, and the first thing I wanna do is I wanna change this. I don't want this to be the color. I don't know what color that is, just by looking at that. I wanna make sure that the color is named something that makes sense to me. So I'm gonna double click on that color. You notice when I did, it applied it to the shape that was there. That's one thing you have to be aware of, and I'm going to deselect Name with Color Value. So I can actually give it a real name. So I'll call it orange, and I can change the color mode here, but I already have that selected because that's what it was when I chose it. I'm gonna leave it as Process. If you're working with spot colors, you probably already know what you're doing, so we're not gonna even talk about what spot means. Instead of that, we're just gonna leave it at Process. And I can make any last minute changes that I need to here, and whether it was here or in when I was creating the color, if I know the value of the color, maybe it's a corporate color, and I already know what the color value of each component color is, I can just enter it here. In this case, I'm gonna say OK, and I can do the same thing. We'll call this Blue, and I'll call this one Yellow, just so we have some colors that make sense to us. Ah, yes. Well, Yellow is already being used because that is one of our basic colors. Even though you don't see it, it still lives there. That Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow actually live in the depths of InDesign somewhere down in there, so I'll say, okay, I have those. Now let's say I was trying to select a color, and I was using the RGB model, which like I said is a lot brighter, has a lot more range to it, and I choose something like this very bright yellow, well, this is what I want it to be, but I notice this one's here, and it's a little bit duller. Well, it's basically telling me that they can't reproduce this color, this bright yellow in CMYK, and if you've ever created something on screen, and then you go to print it, even just on your ink jet or something like that, and you get sort of this dull color looking to it, and you thought, it looked really great on screen. This is what's happening, because when it goes to print, it has to shift the color to CMYK. You cannot output something in RGB. Only light can be done that way, so if you're going to toner or ink, or anything like that, it has to be shifted to CMYK. So, this is showing you what's gonna happen when you go from the bright yellow of the RGB color you chose, when you go to CMYK, this is what it's gonna look like. And it does tell you just to click and it will change it for you, so we click it, and now you can definitely see that change. I'm gonna undo that, just so you can see it. That was beforehand, and this is once we shift to CMYK. So, we know it's not gonna look quite as good, but we're still gonna save it and think that it's doable. So we wanna make sure that we're always choosing colors in the CMYK world, if that's where we're outputting to. Only because we don't want any surprises, like that color shift. Well, let's go back to this item over here, and I'm gonna select this again. Let's change this to orange, and I wanna change it to a tint of this color, to this orange. I can use the ramp slider if I want, or the tint ramp if I want. I generally don't. This is where I generally use just a numeric value, but I wanted it to be a percentage of orange, so in this case let's make it 50%, and hit return, now here's what 50% orange looks like, but I also wanna make sure that I have 50% orange available to me in my swatches so I can use that throughout this entire document. So I'm going to go ahead and, right after I changed it to 50, I'm gonna go down to the bottom and say, Create New Swatch. And when I do that, it creates a 50% orange swatch. I'm also gonna grab it and drag it up underneath the orange, so that they're kind of all grouped together, so I know they kind of work together. And the great thing is, if I change the orange swatch, everything that's built on it will also update, so if I double click on Orange, actually, let me cancel that. Because I have this selected, I don't want that. I wanted to stay at that 50%, but I wanna change what the orange definition is to something a little bit redder, and when I do that, I can see that the 50% also updates with it, so they're kind of linked together. If I get rid of the main orange one, all the tints will disappear, but I can get rid of tints individually if I want to. All right, so that's how we make a tint of that one. That's how, in this one, we have all these different black swatches that are here, and obviously there's duplicates as well. There's 30% of this Black 2. There's all the black ones underneath here. Jump back over here. Paper, by default, is white, and this just basically is what the background, or your document, is going to, what it's going to look like, and so it assumes it's going to sit on white paper, and the reason for that is that we wanna know how all of our items that we put on our page, how they look sitting on a white background, so we need to tell it, if paper is going to be a different color, we can change this to something else, but paper never prints. It's not a printed color that we can actually separate out or export from InDesign at all, but if I wanted to, I can change what the value of paper is, so if I double click on that, maybe if I'm printing it on a light blue paper, I can just change so that I can see what that paper will look like. There's light blue. But then as I put items on the page, whether they're transparent items, like for instance if we grab this guy and grab the coins that we had with the clicking path. Oops, just passed it. If I grab that, and jump over to that page, and paste that here, maybe, there we go, I can see what that's going to look like when it's sitting on a blue background instead, and I didn't have to put a rectangle back behind it and fill it with blue. I can just change the paper to that. My only problem with changing the paper definition is now I don't have a white color, and sometimes I want something to be white. Otherwise, we use paper for white if we assume it's sitting on white paper. So, again, the paper here just is to give us an idea of what it will look like when we put items on top of it. It doesn't change the color of anything. It never gets printed out or anything. It's just an onscreen visual. But if we have this set at another color, we'll need to create a whole new color, so go up under New Color Swatch, and we'll call this one, we'll have to actually just call it White, and then we come down here, and we define what white looks like. So we'll say, OK, and now that's added to our swatches panel. So that way when I do need something to be white, I can actually select it here. But for the most part, I'm gonna actually undo that, undo this guy, and undo the change of paper as well. There we go, so we'll get paper back to the white that it was supposed to be. Again, we can group these however we need. We can put them in color groups if we want to as well. I could select these two items, or multiple items, whatever, go up under the panel menu, and come down and choose New Color Group, and I can choose to do, with Selected Swatches, or Selected Page Items, if I want, 'cause I have something selected, but I wanna change this one, I'll just leave it as Color Group, that's fine, from the swatches that I have selected in this swatches panel. And now, it puts them in a folder and lets us group them together. There's a lot of reasons why you might want this. You might have a group over here that is all for table colors, and you might have another one that's for all the colors we're going to use when we make a pie graph, and so we might put those into a group as well. So there's a lot of reasons for that. Then we're not trying to necessarily rearrange these all the time. If you have a hundred colors, it's super nice to have the color groups in here as well.

Class Description

Learn Basic Design Skills.

Adobe® InDesign CC® is the industry's go-to tool making for layouts that combine images and text. Learn the most efficient way to work with this indispensable software in Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet.

In this beginner-friendly class you’ll learn how to:

  • Navigate the Adobe InDesign CC workspace
  • Work with text, images, and color
  • Export and Print

Erica will show you how to execute layouts that include text, graphic elements, and images. You’ll learn basic design skills you can use to create professional-looking magazine layouts, newsletters, flyers and more.

If you want to take charge of your graphic design, Adobe InDesign CC for Beginners with Erica Gamet will get you started.

Level: Beginner, No prior Adobe InDesign experience required.

Don't have Adobe Creative Cloud yet? Get it now and save 20% so you can follow along with the course!


Adobe InDesign CC 2018



Fantastic course. I have used Illustrator and photoshop, but learned when under tight deadlines. We are going to begin using inDesign to publish a more extensive multipage newsletter, and I wanted to build a better knowledge foundation of this tool, rather than just diving in. The course was comprehensive and I feel that I'll be able to make a better product after taking the course.


Have loved Erica since I was a baby designer. She is a great educator, and even though I have been using ID for about 8 years, I just changed from CS6 to CC. This was a great refresher as well as a mental upgrade to new options and effects.

Gilbert Beltran

I enjoyed these classes. Learned the Indesign toolbox and picked up a few smart tricks. Erica is great at keeping up the pace and being very clear and easy to follow.