Choose colors from your photo and apply to elements in your layout.

Borrow a color theme from a colorful photo

It's easy to create a polished look for your design. The Color Theme tool lets you pick colors from elements in your project to create color themes. You can use these custom color themes in your current project, in InDesign, and in other Adobe desktop and mobile apps.

If you want to follow along, download the sample file and open it in InDesign.

Tip: Go to View > Display Performance > High Quality Display to view all page elements in the highest quality.


Pick colors from any part of your project

Select the Color Theme tool in the Tools panel.

There are three ways to create a color theme from a colorful photo:

  • Click an area: To use colors from the entire image, click an area. A color theme based on the colors appears in a floating panel.
  • Click + drag: To restrict the colors to a certain part of the image, first click the Color Theme tool to reset. Then drag a marquee to select an area of the image.
  • Shift + click: To focus on a single color range, reset the tool; then Shift + click on a part of the image.

Modify the color theme

Once you have a color theme you like, click the arrow to see some color variations.

If you created a theme from the entire image, you can choose from variations such as Colorful, Bright, Dark, Muted, etc.,

If you created a theme focused on a single color range, choose from variations such as Analogous, Monochromatic, Triad, etc.

Pick a variation.


Apply colors to elements in your layout

Click a color in the theme and move the Color Theme tool over an object. Depending on its location, the icon will indicate a fill or a stroke.

Click to change the fill or stroke with the selected color.

Click another color in the color theme and practice applying it to other elements in your layout.


Save the color theme

You can save colors to the Swatches panel to reuse them later.

Click the Add to Swatches icon. This creates a folder in the Swatches panel with all the colors in the color theme.

Tip: Double-click the name of the color theme folder to rename it.


Use your color theme everywhere

You can reuse your color theme in other InDesign projects and even in other Adobe desktop and mobile apps by saving it to your Creative Cloud Libraries.

To save all colors in the color theme, click the folder in the Swatches panel to select it, and then click the Add selected swatch to my current CC Library icon below. The colors are added to your currently selected CC Library in the Libraries panel.

To save a single color, select it, and then click the same icon.

See What are Creative Cloud Libraries to learn how to share creative assets in Adobe desktop and mobile apps.


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Contributor: Sam Chivers

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