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Universal colours (CMYK/RGB/Hex/Spot) – One swatch, many colour spaces

Community Beginner ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Working across print and digital I find adding colours to swatches/CC libraries frustrating and timely, especially when you're working with various brands and their extensive colour palettes and the project needs to be in both CMYK and RGB, for print and for online. Manually changing colours to match the colour space should be a thing of the past!

 

My solution: Universal Colours

Create new 'universal' colour swatches in CC Libraries or individual apps with the option to add all the colour values to each swatch, CMYK, RGB, HEX, Pantone & several spot colours (i.e. RAL etc.).

 

Working in CMYK on a print project (in your app of choice) and the swatches in your swatch library import as CMYK as standard when you create the new document. In CMYK mode you could also select specific swatches and quickly change them to Pantone or Spot, if required.

 

Create a new document in RGB and the colours from the swatch library import as rgb, if you're working on a web project, all colours are HEX.

 

Exporting a file, for example a PDF for print and for online, it automatically uses the correct colour values based on the universal swatch. Want to change the colour space of a document in Illustrator or InDesign, the colours automatically change to the new colour space values as set in the universal colour swatch.

 

Fellow designers and creatives, what do you think?

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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<moved from cc desktop ideas>

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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I am not sure I understand – is this a Feature Request? 

Are you working mainly in Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, After Effects, …? 

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Yes, this is a feature request. I do work mainly in Indesign, Photoshop, Illustartor and XD.

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Well, @D Fosse already elaborated on why there seems precious little hope for such a feature to work out. 

 

What are your usual CMYK output spaces? 

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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RGB, CMYK etc aren't color spaces, they're  color models. Color spaces are sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto, US Web Coated SWOP, Coated FOGRA39, etc etc etc.

 

The numbers are different in all of them!

 

That's what a color space is: a definition of numbers as colors, and colors as numbers. The reference for all this is Lab, which is at the heart of all color management.

 

Hex, BTW, is just base 16 notation for RGB numbers and varies with color space accordingly.

 

If you want reference numbers, use Lab. Much simpler and more reliable.

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Converting Lab to different CMYK Spaces will result in various results and can, in many cases, »dirty« primary and secondary colors. 

And involving Pantone and RAL Colors doesn’t make the issue easier. 

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Yes, lots of reasons this can't work.

 

Pay attention to color spaces, never accept numbers until you know what color space they refer to. And Lab when appropriate or practical (which it isn't always with CMYK as c.p. points out).

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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I wonder, though, based on the sentence

»Exporting a file, for example a PDF for print and for online, it automatically uses the correct colour values based on the universal swatch.«

whether the OP really works (at least a significant part of the time) in Photoshop or might work mainly in layout applications. 

 

Not that this would make a universal-swatch-feature more plausible. 

And even in that case the spot color output would necessitate additional input because »a PDF for print« could be for 4C, 5C, 6C, … (or in some cases even 1C). 

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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If you're defining the values then you're not letting the colour space select those colour values for you. Why couldn't this work?

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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quote

If you're defining the values then you're not letting the colour space select those colour values for you. Why couldn't this work?


By @Rhinobytes

There are dozens of CMYK spaces (technically much more, but realistically …) and several relevant RGB Spaces – do you intend to enter customized values for all of them or let Lab and Color Management »do its stuff«? (For certain colors, like 0/100/100/0, that may not apply but for others it would.) 

And how would the corresponding Pantone Coated, Pantone Uncoated, … values be defined? 

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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Semantics! Yes the numbers are different for each, but most brand guidelines will only feature colour values for a few colour spaces. What if you could add them all and let the output automatically select them from you defined vaules in the universal colour swatches you've set up!

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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The real problem here is that brand guides usually (mostly out of ignorance) leave the color space undefined,  so nobody can tell what the numbers actually mean and what the intended color is supposed to look like.

color-space_3.png

color_3.png

 

 

 

 

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Community Expert ,
Mar 09, 2023 Mar 09, 2023

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LATEST

Hi @Rhinobytes , If the source color reference is a device independent Lab value then the color conversions for different print conditions and sRGB web can be managed. Pantone solid ink colors are captured from printed swatches as Lab values, so that library or any other Lab defined ink library (e.g. Toyo, ANPA) could be used as a source reference. This might be useful:

 

https://community.adobe.com/t5/indesign-discussions/branding-color-guide/td-p/10818696

 

 

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