Using Adobe Color CC to Create Custom Color Palettes For Fashion Photography & Retouching

Our guest writer Daniel Hager talks about the Adobe Color CC app and how photographers and retouchers can use it to create custom color palettes for their fashion and beauty work.

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Color is key

When you look through today’s magazines or at advertising campaigns, you may quickly notice that specific design features are always used to convey the message that is to be delivered to the viewer.

The use of color is often one of the most underestimated design components. Colors can be employed in such subtle ways without stealing the viewer’s attention and yet they play a critical role in speaking to the viewer’s emotions by bringing all of the design elements together.

Differences and Similarities In Color Perception

As you work with clients you might encounter difficulties when it comes to talking about color. Today it is a known fact that color is perceived differently from one individual to another. With the ongoing research on psychological aspects of color perception, this field is becoming more and more important in marketing. As Retouchers and Photographers, understanding color should be the bedrock in our journey to becoming masters of the craft we love so dearly.

Color Palettes

While studying commercials, advertising campaigns, product packaging or fashion editorials, you have probably already noticed that they are based on color palettes.

Color palettes are sets of colors that work well together, having designated relationships in hue, saturation and brightness values. After all, a color palette could hypothetically be comprised of almost any colors that a person would choose to mix together, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean that it will be pleasing to the eye. Good usage of color creates visuals most people would describe as harmonious.

Color is complicated

Many people struggle with color and selecting impactful color palettes and I must admit, I don’t think it’s an easy topic either. As with everything, it takes a lot of practice to become good at it, but this should never discourage you from pressing into it.

Color Tools

Fortunately for those of us who are not far enough along on this journey there are tools that can help create our own color palettes. Better yet, they can also be used to learn about color and assist us in creating palettes from existing colors in our images.

Paletton (www.paletton.com) is a browser-based tool that is available for free.

Adobe Kuler was another option that used to be offered as a Photoshop plugin. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available as we knew it.

So what happened to Adobe Kuler?

With the advent of Creative Cloud Adobe chose to integrate Adobe Kuler into the CC suite along with significant enhancements to its functionality and design. For those of you who have a Creative Cloud subscription, you’re lucky since it’s included as part of the CC line of apps and Adobe Color CC can be easily downloaded and installed directly into Photoshop. Unfortunately without a subscription you’ll have to rely on free, yet respectable offerings like Paletton.

Color Palettes On The Go

Adobe provides an app called Adobe Color CC (Apple and Android devices) which allows you to capture an image and use the existing colors to create a custom color palette based on that image. The app is pretty neat as it handles up to 5 selected colors in live view mode. You can stop refreshing when it has picked the colors you like in an image and then take the frame to create your color palette.

As an added bonus those colors can be adjusted later on and then saved to the cloud.

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Color Palettes In The Cloud

Adobe Color CC is a cross-platform application. It also provides a web app which can be found at color.adobe.com.  The same basic functionality is offered that you may already know from Kuler: you can create color palettes and when logged into your Adobe account, you can also save them as Color Themes.

This is one of the powerful features of the Creative Cloud. You can save your presets and access them independently from the device that they were created on. This allows you to create color palettes from your smartphone, then automatically syncs them to the cloud and makes them available for access across the entire suite of CC apps. A beautiful advantage of staying in the Adobe CC ecosystem.

Adobe Color CC also provides a library where artists can share their color sets with other users.

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Color Palettes in Photoshop

Thankfully there is still a dedicated plugin similar to how Kuler used to function. The name has now changed to Adobe Color CC Panel and all the expected cloud features have been added as well.

You can download the Panel at Adobe’s Add-on Page.

It’s a powerful tool that allows you to create color themes from your images, load colors from your sets, create swatches and create project based libraries.

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The Power of Libraries

A quick reminder regarding the use of your CC libraries and how powerful they can be: Adobe has invested significant resources in the libraries features and sadly not many users have tapped into the potential that they offer.

Libraries are a big topic which deserves to be covered in its own right, but… take a moment to consider the potential of project-based Libraries. Imagine the power of being able to collect color palettes, pictures, brushes, text, graphic elements and share them with team members or across multiple apps as you go about the process of working on a large campaign.

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Color is an important factor in the work that we do. I would like to encourage you to play around with Assets and Libraries in Photoshop. Go and take a look at the Color CC app and play around with the tools.

Pick up magazines that inspire you, be attentive to images that move you and then force yourself to spot and figure out color palettes that were used in those images. Spend time mulling over them and figuring out what kind of a palette was used, why it worked. Try seeing if you can distinguish the “base” color.

It’s all about practice, push yourself to start making your own palettes, using these powerful tools that are available to you. There has never been a better time to be a creative!

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You can see Daniel Hager’s work on his website and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

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