Photoshop gets a new color picker panel

When painting in Photoshop, I’ve always found the little color ramp area on the Color panel (screenshot) pretty cramped.  At just 190×15 pixels, it occupies a princely 0.16% of the screen real estate on a 17″ monitor (or 0.07% on 30-incher!), and yet you’re supposed to use it to choose among 16.7 million colors.  The main Photoshop color picker is of course much larger and more powerful, but using it requires trips into a modal dialog box.


Though we’ve yet to offer the color picker dialog in panel form, developer Anastasiy has created a SWF panel form of the picker (screenshot) that you can download for free.  Very cool!


I’ve written to Anastasiy to suggest a few tweaks, and I hope this is the first of many alternate color pickers for Photoshop. (We’re also talking to Viktor Goltvyanitsa about bringing his ColorPalette panel–now part of Fireworks CS4–to PSCS4.)  Lastly, we’ll work to make sure these components can be dropped into Configurator panels.


PS–A note on installation: Drop the contents of the ZIP file into your "Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-Ins/Panels" directory, then look under Window->Extensions.  All SWF files you drop into Panels or its subfolders appear under the Extensions submenu.

26 thoughts on “Photoshop gets a new color picker panel

  1. This is one of the things i’ve been asking myself… Why make the Adjustment-Layers non-modal, but not the colour-picker?
    Great idea for an swf-panel! I’ll definately give it a try.

  2. I put it in ps4/plug-ins, but how do I activate it?
    [Drop the contents of the ZIP file into CS4/Plug-Ins/Panels, then look under Window->Extensions. –J.]

  3. I like Shades for Mac
    [After installing this picker, you should be able to access it from within Photoshop by going into preferences, then choosing Color Picker: Apple at the top of the first panel. Unfortunately this is the only way to toggle between the pickers. There’s no way to flip between them while in the picker dialog box. –J.]

  4. I think it would be great if there was a color picker dialog box that one could reach trough a menu command. Then it could be implemented in an action and when one runs the action, the picker pops up, you choose the color and hit ok, the action goes on.

  5. Wow, this is great, thanks for the link!
    I’ve been excited about the possibilities with SWF panels for awhile now, but this is the first that I think will be really useful for me.

  6. Interesting idea, and nicely executed, however, it won’t find a home in my CS4 until there’s a CMYK option.

  7. I am all for alternate color pickers and I am all for an easier way of adding color picker items (like foreground and background swatches) in configurator without having to do programming.
    One thing I would like to see added as add-in component in configurator is a nice color wheel.
    I know my basic color theory and use it quite often for color cast removal. It would be nice to have a color wheel in Photoshop so that you can easily see for example that green will cancel out a red color cast in an image because it is opposite red on the color wheel. This kind of stuff is not just for artists.
    [Have you tried the Kuler panel in CS4 (Window->Extensions->Kuler)? –J.]
    Configurator is great, but there are lot of basic things missing that now require you to either script (not user friendly) or create in Flash (also not a user friendly option, flash is fine but not having to use it create text with fonts and color, borders or to be able to turn them off, panel background color, etc.)
    I am sure this stuff will come configurator had to start someplace.

  8. Thanks!
    I’m planning to implement Lab & CMYK modes in the near future, so hold on guys!
    There’s a readme in the package where it’s written, how to install the panel.
    I can’t try it on a Mac, but I guess you have to copy the files to the same folders as it os on PC.

  9. Anastasiy,
    The path is a little different for the Mac, but it is indeed the equivalent folder in the end.
    ./Applications/Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-ins/Panels/colorpicker folder.

  10. The main Photoshop color picker is of course much larger and more powerful, but using it requires trips into a modal dialog box.
    Dude. Just fix the color picker instead. You’re even bringing the problem up yourself! Why on earth should it be modal?
    The Apple color picker is perfect, I don’t get why you don’t just use that one (except consistency across platforms). It’s non-modal: it can be used inline while doing anything else, because 1) it remembers its last edited swatch and updates it live while you’re using the picker 2) it’s a floating panel. It has many modes for picking the right kind of color for the situation. It can grab colors from anywhere on the screen (with the magnifying glass). It stores favorite colors. It’s small and resizable. It’s great! And if you use the os native color swatch, you can drag ‘n’ drop colors between swatches, which is very handy (I just noticed e g that you can’t do that on the swatches for the transparency grid color in the preferences).

  11. The Photoshop color picker currently has to be modal because it can open Apple/Microsoft’s modal pickers, or plugin modal pickers (which very few people seem to have implemented. Oh, well.), and it has to be invoked from within many other modal dialogs.
    But we’ve been looking into ways that we could change the picker to being non-modal while allowing the other pickers to remain available as well, and allowing it to become modal when necessary. Unfortunately, things like that are not as easy as they look from the outside. “Just make it non-modal. Sure, just as easy as making your car fly.”
    As for the Apple picker: not correctly color managed (they tried, they missed). And Apple’s OS supplied picker is very much modal. They have similar pickers in Apple apps that are not modal, but they’re not the same code as far as I can tell.

  12. This is nice, but it would be even better if it could remember the last/or saved settings and be executed by a hotkey.
    The panel is kind of slow on my machine.. maybe its my pc, but everything else run pretty good.
    I would also like to see a colorwheel panel that Robert Barnett wrote about above.
    still, nice to see this evolving, I know alot of people in the graphics communities been requesting a hotkey for the Set forground/Background color picker for a long time now.

  13. [sorry slightly flameing]
    Awesome! But very flawed.
    Apart from the fact that it’s slow (slow to respond, slow to load), there’s a LOT of banding. I’m guessing this is a problem with Flash not doing good gradients (built for speed not quality).
    I really wish Adobe would stop coming out with “great ideas” that are so flawed. Instead of changing the interface with every release why not fix things that already there. What’s with the JS to connect to PS rather than direct AS access?
    PS: I have a super good machine – the slowness is NOT because of lack of power.

  14. This plug in is great, it will save me a lot of time switching to the color picker, Thank you very much, the plug in works great!!!

  15. Does this work on CS3? I tried it and nothing shows up.
    [No, it relies on infrastructure that’s only in CS4. –J.]
    If it doesn’t, are there any alternatives for CS3?
    [I’m afraid I don’t know of any. –J.]
    Don’t have the money to get another version yet, and I’m strongly against pirating.
    [Thanks; I appreciate that. –J.]

  16. How could i miss that ? it’s great.
    Improvements suggested : behaviours like photoshop ones : click/drag on the letters H/S/B… to move the cursor [double checked that : it only works on CMYK in the current picker]
    shift-arrow to increase numbers by ten
    Add a “smallsize” palette so it fits like the other panels

  17. hum, sorry in last comment i didn’t release the size arrow and only saw the picker go out of the frame… whereas it works as intended and gets smaller by itself. Forget abour my request 🙂

  18. I was wondering if anyone could help, I found this post trying to fix PS CS4 that I have, The color picker is all wrong!! It does not have a spot to put in hex code and It has like 48 squares (colors) to pick from.. Any ides how to change/ fix that?

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