If you’re a designer, or you do a lot of design work for your own blog or business, then Adobe is likely something that you’re familiar with. I use Adobe Illustrator for most of my designs, and also use Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop, though more sparingly. Since I’m a professional designer, I work with a lot of different colours. Though some projects are one-offs, there are also clients that I do repeat jobs for. Of course I’m always working on graphics for my own brand as well, which means I’m always coming back to the same groups of colours, which means custom swatches are vital for my work.
To access colours, you use the Swatch panel, which is a lot of small square swatches of various colours that you can use. Rather than having to use the eyedropper tool to draw the colours you want, or creating new swatches every time you open up a file, you can create custom swatches. This allows you to add your colours to the library, and to delete colours you don’t need to keep things organized. This will save you time and headache, and make sure you can always come back to the same colours, and stay on brand for all your projects.
First, open up a document in Adobe Illustrator. If you have a document with your brand colours in it already, open it up. Or just create a new document and put your brand colours into it using shapes. For every brand I develop (including my own) I create a colour reference guide so I can always access the HEX codes easily. So I’ll open that up to draw my brand colours from.
Next, highlight all the shapes using your colours, so I’ll highlight everything on my artboard. Go to the Swatches panel (it might be over on the right already, or you can open it by going to Window > Swatches).
With your colour objects still highlighted you can click on New Color Group along the bottom of the panel (the little folder with the plus arrow). Then give your colour group a name and make sure Selected Artwork is selected, so Adobe knows to draw the colours from the artwork. Click OK and you will see the swatches appear there in their own line next to a folder icon.
Alternatively if you just want to add the colours without making a folder, click on the dropdown in the top right corner of the swatches panel and click Add Selected Colours, which will add them alongside all the other colours.
Next you can delete colours you don’t use by highlighting them in the swatches panel, clicking on the dropdown in the top right, and then click Delete Swatch. Delete all the ones you don’t use, and add whichever ones you need to make your perfect library.
With the Swatches panel looking like you want it to, click on the dropdown again, and select Save Swatch Library as ASE near the bottom. This makes a file that you can open in most other Adobe programs, while Save Swatch Library as AI will create an Illustrator file you can open in Illustrator.
Give your library a name and click save! It will automatically be saved in the Swatches area, which is where you want it so you can access it again.
Next time you open a new document you then just go back to the swatches panel, click the dropdown again, and click Open Swatch Library. Go down to the bottom of the list to User Defined, and select your library from the list. This will open your swatch library in a separate panel from the swatches, but you can just drag it into the toolbar and close the swatches panel.