Learn the basics of working with colors in Adobe InDesign CC, including how to change color, create swatches, and add effects like drop shadows.

Change the color of content

Explore how to apply color to content using existing colors and colors you create.


What you learned: Change the color of content

  • Content in InDesign can have a color stroke (border) and a color fill.
  • Clicking the fill color or stroke color in the Control panel above the document reveals colors saved in a document, called swatches.
  • Choose Window > Color > Color to open the Color panel. You can use the Color panel to mix a custom color. Choose CMYK from the color panel menu, if necessary, to see the CMYK sliders. Click in the color spectrum to choose a color, and then adjust the color values using the CMYK sliders.
  • Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (K) are the colors represented by CMYK. These are printing inks that are mixed to create the final color on a printer.
  • Press and hold the Color Theme tool in the Tools panel to select the Eyedropper tool. The Eyedropper tool captures formatting from an object you click on and applies that same formatting to the selected content.

Save colors as swatches

Learn how to save a color you create as a swatch for later use.

What you learned: Save colors as swatches

  1. Click the fill color or stroke color in the Control panel above the document and click the New Swatch button at the bottom of the panel that appears.
  2. Double-click the new color swatch, change the name (if necessary), and set options. Click OK to save the color swatch.
  3. Apply the new swatch by selecting artwork and clicking the fill color or stroke color in the Control panel and selecting the swatch.

Add effects like a drop shadow

Apply creative effects to your content.

What you learned: Explore effects like drop shadows in InDesign

Transparency effects include drop shadows, bevel and emboss, and more, and are found in the Effects panel.

To apply a drop shadow effect to an object:

  1. Select the object with the Selection tool.
  2. Click the fx button in the Control panel to open the Transparency and Effects drop-down menu. Choose Drop Shadow to open the Effects dialog box. You can also open the Effects panel by choosing Window > Efects.
  3. Adjust the drop shadow options. You can also explore other effects by turning them on or off in the panel on the left. Click OK to apply the effect. 


Back to: Add and transform graphics | Up next: Edit content




Presenter: Brian Wood

Designer: Erica Larson

Photography: Andrew Zhou