A world of color options in Adobe graphic design apps

Color is one of the most important elements in the design. It reflects your design’s goal and personality and becoming synonymous with a brand. If you're beginning your exploration, a visual guide to color theory may be helpful. There is also a guide to color meaning that can help to pick a winning color scheme. Adobe facilitates precision color in both digital onscreen and print designs.

Getting started with colors

For fresh options, you can use Adobe Color to access powerful harmonization engines for creating beautiful color themes to use in Adobe products. Start your color journey by exploring themes from the Color community. Be inspired by other creatives in curated Trend Galleries from Behance and Adobe Stock. Import photos and images to generate cohesive color palettes from your artwork. Saved color themes are automatically synced to Adobe Creative Cloud and are immediately available in the Libraries panel of your desktop and mobile applications. Use the color tools on the desktop, on mobile, or by installing Adobe Capture on your Android or iOS device.

Colors for printing

Printing is a process of reproducing a design on a physical surface. There are many techniques to achieve this process. Accurate reproduction of colors is a part of this process. Depending on the app’s primary use case, Adobe supports most printing processes, which include accurate handling of color information from design to print. Largely, the storage of color information within the applications can be classified into three swatch types:

  • Process
  • Process-Global
  • Spot

Process and Process-Global swatches can be CMYK or RGB, depending upon the color mode of the document they are stored in. Spot color swatches are independent of the document color space and can be in CMYK, RGB, Grayscale, or Lab color modes. Spot colors always preserve their original color information irrespective of the document’s color mode in which they are used. Users can create all these swatches in the apps that support such swatch types.

There are also industry-standard color swatches available in Adobe apps through Color Books which are popular in branded color workflows. Most color swatches are available through licensing agreements to Adobe which are Pantone, ANPA, TOYO, FOCOLTONE, HKS, TOYO, and TRUMATCH. All swatches from these Color Books are either Process-Global (CMYK) or Spot (RGB). Details of which are available below:


This color book consists of 300 colors selected by ANPA (American Newspaper Publishers Association), which are primarily used as spot colors in newspapers.


This collection provides 1,280 spot colors from the DIC Process Color Note. DIC color swatches may be matched against the physical DIC Color Guide. Learn more about DIC Color.


FOCOLTONE is designed to work with four color processes, its name: “FOur COLor TONEs”. The book consists of 763 CMYK colors. Focoltone colors can avoid prepress trapping and registration problems by overprinting tints to create specific colors. Learn more about FOCOLTONE. Learn more about FOCOLTONE.


The eight HKS books include over 3520+ HKS colors for coated and uncoated paper. Learn more about HKS colors.


1,050 colors based on the most common printing inks used in Japan, and widely available in the US through Toyo Ink America. Learn more about Toyo.


TRUMATCH enables predictable CMYK color matching of over 2,000 colors. The Trumatch Color Finder displays up to 40 tints and shades of each hue, originally created in a four-color process and each reproducible on electronic imagesetters. Learn more about TRUMATCH.

Pantone now provides full access to spot colors through its Pantone Connect plug-in, available directly from Pantone or also on Adobe Exchange. Learn more about working with Pantone colors in Adobe apps:

Creative Cloud Libraries

A Creative Cloud Library is a collection of design assets. It is the easiest way to access your preferred colors while you're designing or to share with the whole team. Creative Cloud Libraries let you gather design elements for specific projects, clients, or teams for use within any of your Creative Cloud apps.

To get started with libraries, you can follow libraries curated by Adobe Color and Adobe's annual color themes.


Add color to library

  1. In your desktop application such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, go to Window > Libraries or Window > CC Libraries to open the Libraries panel.

  2. Use the Libraries menu to create a library and name it, or simply add assets to the default, My Library.

  3. To add specific colors to your document, select the object with that color.

  4. Select   in the Libraries panel and select fill color.

Once assets are saved to CC Libraries, reuse them in your designs — in the same file, another project, or another app — without worrying that you’ll grab the wrong versions.

Create your own libraries to store and share colors and other assets. To learn more, see Creative Cloud Libraries.

Each of our most popular graphic design apps has robust color support. You can learn more here:

Using color in Photoshop
Using color in Illustrator
Using color in InDesign


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Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
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Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online