How to Use Color Picker in Photoshop CS6 - dummies

How to Use Color Picker in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

When you click either the Foreground or Background color swatch in the Tools panel of Photoshop CS6, you’re transported magically to the Color Picker. This huge dialog box allows you to select a color from the color spectrum (called a color slider) or define your color numerically.


Choosing a color visually is fine for web or multimedia work, but not recommended for print work. Among other reasons, your monitor uses an RGB (red, green, and blue) color model, whereas printers use a CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) model.

To select a color visually, follow these steps:

  1. Click either the Foreground or Background color swatch in the Tools panel.

    The Color Picker dialog box appears.

  2. Drag the color slider to get in the ballpark of the color you want.

  3. To fine-tune your choice, click in the large square on the left.

    This square area is called a color field. The circular icon targets your selected shade. The dialog box displays your new chosen color, as well as the current, or original, foreground or background color.

    The numeric values also change accordingly to represent the exact shade you’ve chosen.

    Alternatively, if you know the numeric values of the color you want to use, you can plug in the values in the text boxes on the right side of the Color Picker.

    For example, RGB values are based on brightness levels, from 0 to 255, with 0 being black and 255 being the pure color or white. CMYK values are based on percentages (0 to 100) of the four process colors — cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. You can enter the hexadecimal formula (six digit alpha numeric color code) for web colors.

  4. When you’re satisfied with the color, click OK. Note that you can add your new color to your Swatches panel, if desired. Click the Add to Swatches button. Name your new swatch and click OK.

  5. Click OK to exit the Color Picker.

The HUD (Heads Up Display) Color Picker is a nifty onscreen tool that lets you quickly select colors. This can come in handy when you want to choose colors based on your image and want to have your Color Picker adjacent to those colors.

To choose a color from the HUD Color Picker, select any painting tool. Then press Shift+Alt+right-click (Control+Option+Command on the Mac) and click in your image window to display the HUD Color Picker. Drag to select your desired hue and shade (you can release the keys while you drag). You’ll see the appearance of a circle target to help pinpoint your desired color.


You can do pretty much the same thing in the Color panel that you can do with the Color Picker.