113. Select a Color to Work With
Before You Begin
110 About the Toolbox
111 About Tool Options
63 Change Color Mode
114 Select a Color Already in Your Image
115 Draw on a Photo with a Pencil
At the bottom of the Toolbox is the foreground/background color control. Use it to set both foreground and background colors. Photoshop uses the foreground color to paint or fill selections and the background color to fill in the erased areas of the background layer. These colors are also used jointly by the Gradient tool as well as by some filters such as the Clouds filter.
By default, the foreground color is black and the background color is white. You can select a new foreground or background color from the Color Picker or the Color Swatches palette. You can also pick up the color to use from the image, with the Eyedropper tool. See 114 Select a Color Already in Your Image.
Foreground color The color that's applied when you use the Brush, Pencil, or Paint Bucket tool, create text with the Text tool, or create a shape with one of the Shape tools.
Background color The color that's applied when you erase with the Eraser on the background layer.
Within the foreground/background color control are two small icons. To return to the original black-and-white selections, click the small squares in the lower-left corner, or press the D key on your keyboard. To swap the foreground and background colors, click the curved arrow in the upper-right corner or press X.
Click Foreground/Background Color Swatch
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to work on. Select a tool from the Toolbox.
Click the foreground color swatch or the background color swatch at the bottom of the Toolbox. The Color Picker opens. Unless you have made another selection, it is the Adobe Color Picker. You use this dialog box to select a color by choosing from a color spectrum or by defining colors numerically.
Select a Color Visually
In the middle of the Color Picker, the currently chosen color's components are displayed as two groups of three components each: HSB and RGB. Beside each component is an option button. When you click one of these buttons, the vertical color slider in the middle of the dialog box displays the complete spectrum of possible settings for that component, in the context of the current settings for the other components. The big, square color field on the left of the dialog box displays all the possible variations you can make to the other two components in the chosen triplet.
For example, when you enable H (hue), the color slider reveals the full spectrum of hues at full intensity. You can click one of these hues in the slider to set the H value. Meanwhile, the color field changes to show all possible shadeslight and darkof the hue you've chosen. You can also click a spot in the color field to pick a color. This action changes the S and B values as well. If you proceed from here and enable S (saturation), the color slider changes to reveal the entire spectrum of saturation choices, while the color field reveals your array of choices with the same saturation, but with different hues (horizontally) and brightness (vertically). Your current hue choice is indicated by a circle in the color field.
You might notice a stacked pair of colored rectangles in the upper-right corner of the Color Picker. The lower rectangle shows the original foreground color or background color at the time you opened the dialog box; the upper rectangle shows the new color you have selected. This allows you to compare the two colors, which can be an important consideration if you are choosing a color as an adjustment to an existing color you've absorbed with the Eyedropper tool. See 114 Select a Color Already In Your Image for details on absorbing existing colors.
Think of the color field as presenting you with a cross-section of the entire color spectrum cube, for the two axes that are not selected in the HSB or RGB grouping.
The Editor recognizes a small subset of the color palettespecifically, 216 combinationsas Web-safe colors. These are the hues that can be accurately reproduced by both Windows and Macintosh Web browsers, when either system is set to display only the minimum of 256 colors. (The 40 colors that do not translate well are excluded.) There are two ways you can address the problem of choosing colors that might not translate accurately to low-color systems:
To have the color field show only shades from this limited palette, enable the Only Web Colors check box in the lower-left corner of the Color Picker. Instead of the infinite spectrum that was previously available, the Color Picker displays only what are known as Web-safe colors. If you already chose a color, that choice is changed to the nearest Web-safe alternative.
The foreground color swatch is on the left; the background color swatch is on the right.
Next to the sample rectangle for the original color (the foreground color chosen at the time you opened this dialog box), you might see an Alert Cube. This symbol serves as a gentle, if unintuitive, indication that you have not chosen a Web-safe color. If your objective is not to make certain this image can be seen by the few remaining users of NCSA Mosaic on a Macintosh II, you can safely ignore this warning.
The number of colors in the Color Picker is limited by the number of colors in the image. To change color modesand the number of colors allowed in an imagesee 63 Change Color Mode.
Or Select a Color by the Numbers
You can specify a color by entering its description on one of three numerical scales in the right side of the Color Picker:
- RGB. Enter the values of red, green, and blue that make up the color, using a scale of 0 to 255 for each component. For example, a pure red is R255, G0, B0. A medium orange has the values R228, G135, B42.
- HSB. Here, the three values you enter to define a color indicate hue, saturation, and brightness. The hue is indicated by the number of degrees in a standard color wheel, the saturation and brightness by percentages of their maximum values. On this scale, orange has the values H30, S82, B89.
- HTML. HTML color codes are used in hypertext markup language, the programming language of the World Wide Web. This is a single value, using six digits preceded by a pound sign. The digits express the RGB values on a hexadecimal scale. The first two digits contain the red value, the second two the green value, and the final two the blue. In this notation, lime green color appears as #6FD035.
Enter the values you want to use on any of the three scales. The other scales automatically display their versions of the values you just entered.
You also can pick a color from the Swatches palette. To display this palette, from the Editor's menu bar, select Window, Color Swatches. To set a new foreground color, click that color; to set a background color, Ctrl+click that color.
To finalize your color choice, click OK.