114. Select a Color Already in Your Image
113 Select a Color to Work With
Suppose you need to duplicate a color from an existing image. You might want to duplicate the exact shade of blue in a corporate logo or the bright plumage of a rare bird. You can try to emulate the color using a Color Picker, or you might try to find it in a color swatch. There is a quicker and more accurate alternative: select the color directly from the picture.
Select the Eyedropper tool, point to the picture, and click the shade you want to duplicate. It's nearly as simple as that. You do have one decision to make, though: the size of the sample the tool should retrieve. The Eyedropper offers three options. If you choose Point Sample, the Eyedropper tool picks up the color of the specific pixel you click. That's fine if you are selecting from an area of solid color such as a logo. It's not so fine if you are selecting from an area of varied color such as the feathers of a bird. There's a good chance that the specific pixel you select will not accurately represent the overall color of the bird. You might click in a shadow and pick up a dull color instead of the bright hue you were hoping for. To compensate, you can adjust the sample size to average the colors of several neighboring pixels. Open the Sample Size drop-down list in the Options bar and choose either 3 by 3 Average or 5 by 5 Average.
Sample size The area from which a color is derived by computing the average color of the pixels in that area.
Neighboring pixels Pixels that physically touch each other.
Select the Eyedropper Tool
Open the image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, select the layer that contains the color you want to pick up from the image and use.
Click the Eyedropper tool in the upper section of the Toolbox.
Select a Sample Size
On the Options bar, select the Sample Size you want to use. This option affects whether the tool samples the specific color from one point or samples the average of all colors in a three- to five-pixel radius from that point.
To quickly borrow the Eyedropper while you're busy with one of the drawing tools, don't switch tools from the Toolbox. Instead, just hold down the Alt key. Your pointer becomes the Eyedropper. Click any point on any open image (not just the one you're drawing on) to absorb a new foreground color. Then release the Alt key and continue painting.
Select the Color
Click in the image to sample a pixel or pixels, and make that sample the foreground color. To sample for the background color instead, press Alt as you click the image.
Make changes using the color you've picked up and your tool of choice. After you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want, then save the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
In this example, I sampled the orange in the bird's head and used it as the color for the text I added to label this image of an oriole. See 183 Add a Text Caption or Label for more about adding simple captions like this one to an image.