Photoshop Predefined Colors

If you click the Custom button inside the Color Picker dialog box, Photoshop displays the Custom Colors dialog box shown in Figure below.

Figure-1: The Custom Colors dialog box enables you to select predefined colors from brand-name libraries.

In this dialog box, you can select from a variety of predefined colors by choosing the color family from the Book pop-up menu, moving the slider triangles up and down the color slider to specify a general range of colors, and ultimately, selecting a color from the color list on the left. If you own the swatchbook for a color family, you can locate a specific color by entering its number on the keyboard.

The color families represented in the Book pop-up menu fall into seven brands: ANPA (now NAA, as I explain shortly), DIC, Focoltone, HKS, Pantone, Toyo, and Trumatch, all of which get a big kick out of capitalizing their names in dialog boxes. I honestly think one of these companies would stand out better if its name weren’t capitalized.

Anyway, at the risk of offending a few of these companies, you’re likely to find certain brands more useful than others. The following sections briefly introduce the brands in order of their impact on the American market forgive me for being ethnocentric in this regard from smallest to greatest impact.

The number-one use for predefined colors in Photoshop is in the creation of duotones, tritones, and quadtones. You can also use predefined colors to match the colors in a logo or some other important element in an image to a commercial standard. And you can add an independent channel for a predefined color and print it to a separate plate.

Focoltone, DIC, Toyo, and HKS

Focoltone, Dianippon Ink and Chemical (DIC), Toyo, and HKS fall into the negligible impact category. All are foreign color standards with followings abroad. Focoltone is an English company; not English speaking (although they probably do), but English living, as in commuting-to-France-through-the-Channel England.

DIC and Toyo are popular in the Japanese market, but have next to no subscribers outside Japan. HKS formerly was provided only in the German and French versions of Photoshop, but enough people asked for it to be included in other languages that it now is available in all versions of the program.

Newspaper Association of America

American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA) recently changed its name to NAA, which stands for Newspaper Association of America, and updated its color catalog. NAA provides a small sampling of 45 process colors (mixes of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink) plus 5 spot colors (colors produced by printing a single ink).

The idea behind the NAA colors is to isolate the color combinations that reproduce most successfully on inexpensive newsprint and to provide advertisers with a solid range of colors from which to choose, without allowing the color choices to get out of hand. You can purchase a swatch book from NAA for $35. Members pay $25.


Trumatch remains my personal favorite process-color standard. Designed entirely using a desktop system and created especially with desktop publishers in mind, the Trumatch Colorfinder swatchbook features more than 2,000 process colors, organized according to hue, saturation, and brightness.

Each hue is broken down into 40 tints and shades. Reducing the saturation in 15-percent increments creates tints; adding black ink in 6-percent increments creates shades. The result is a guide that shows you exactly which colors you can attain using a desktop system.

If you’re wondering what a CMYK blend will look like when printed, you need look no further than the Trumatch Colorfinder. As if the Colorfinder weren’t enough, Trumatch provides the ColorPrinter Software utility, which automatically prints the entire 2,000-color library to any PostScriptcompatible output device.

The utility integrates EfiColor and PostScript Level 2, thereby enabling design firms and commercial printers to test the entire range of capabilities available to their hardware. Companies can provide select clients with swatches of colors created on their own printers, guaranteeing what you see is darn well what you’ll get.


On the heels of Trumatch, Pantone released a 3,006-color Process Color System Guide (labeled Pantone Process in the Book pop-up menu) priced at $79. Pantone also produces the foremost spot color swatchbook, the Color Formula Guide.

Then there’s the Solid to Process Guide, which enables you to figure out quickly if you can closely match a Pantone spot color using a process-color blend or if you ought to give it up and stick with the spot color. Pantone spot colors are ideal for creating duotones and adding custom colors to an image for logos and the like.

Furthermore, Pantone is supported by every computer application that aspires to the color prepress market. As long as the company retains the old competitive spirit, you can, most likely, expect Pantone to remain the primary color printing standard for years to come.