Feedback, please: kuler in Photoshop?

Every time I’ve demonstrated Illustrator CS3’s excellent Live Color feature, the first question I hear is predictable: "Great, but when can I have that in Photoshop? [Or in Flash, or InDesign, or…]"  Selecting harmonious colors is a necessary part of just about every design discipline.

Adobe’s kuler online application offers a subset of Live Color in a Web-hosted, Flash-powered environment.  It offers powerful tools for creating color harmonies, plus tools for saving color sets & sharing those with others.  As noted recently, feeds of these colors can be sucked into other apps.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to make it possible to extend Photoshop (and all Adobe apps, for that matter) by dropping in Flash-based palettes/panels.  So, here’s a thought: what if we gave Photoshop (and maybe other Suite apps) the ability to use kuler to create and modify color harmonies, and to upload/download color sets to share with others?

Here’s a really simple mockup I created to show how it might work.  You’d be able to use the color wheel to create color sets based on rules (Analogous, Complementary, etc.).  Clicking on the resulting colors would let you paint with them in Photoshop, and/or save them as color swatches.  You’d also be able to view, search, and use harmonies created by others & shared via kuler.

What do you think?  I created a two-question survey to gauge your response.  Comments are also welcome. [Update: The survey is open again. I didn’t realize that Survey Monkey had a 100-response limit on their free account. Clever, clever…]


0 thoughts on “Feedback, please: kuler in Photoshop?

  1. after Kulers intro I expected it to pop up in CS3, and since it is integrated in Illustrator I use it in there, but quite often I save sets from the online version and import them them in InDesign.

  2. Yes please πŸ™‚
    However, what would also be nice is to have it work very much like the CS3 color management, and have the sets you create available in all the applications from one central user library.

  3. I need less sharing and more features. Did you ever see the aged filter called Color Theory?
    Also, Adobe could use a suite-wide non modal color model like Autodesk/discreet, plus.
    [Could you point me to more info on the latter, and/or elaborate on what you’d like to see? Thanks. –J.]

  4. That would be nice, but it doesn’t have to look like it does in Illustrator. Afterall – nothing Adobe does in one program works in another.
    Going from InDesign to Photoshop is like stepping back in time about 10 years. And you’d think that going from InDesign to Illustrator would be easy – nope that’s all different too.
    Sure it looks the same, but the commands are different – for no good reason.
    Forget kuler – lets get some integration.

  5. I have been saying since the first time I saw Illustrator CS3 that Adobe needs a UNIVERSAL color swatches file format as well as the swatch groups, the color guide, live color, and kuler in EVERY program with their name on it.
    Or maybe centralize it all somehow in Bridge?!
    That being said, I also think Knowhow needs to be in every program to some degree as well.
    Wishful thinking on my part, but I love Adobe and would love for every one of their programs to be truly cohesive and integrated. That would make my job easier.
    Thanks John! Keep up the great work!

  6. It will be great! I already use something like this: I have several small files with special color combinations and the pantone used in some of my client’s products, but having this build-in will be much faster and elegant.
    Also, the survey seams to be closed.

  7. Illustrator CS3s improvements over CS2’s are so much bigger than in Photoshop, mostly because of this color stuff. PS’s Smart Layers don’t get used on the daily (hourly) basis that AI’s color gizmos get used.
    But a Flash-based Kuler panel is not the same. I tried that panel in AI. It looks like an AI palette, but it’s really a flash thing (can’t open panel to full height of screen, different ways of clicking etc).
    [Ah, glad you brought this up. The Illustrator kuler palette (which just pulls in color feeds & which is separate from their Live Color interface) is just a proof of concept with some known rough edges (e.g. not being resizable).
    What I’m suggesting is not just an interface that would load color feeds, but one that would let you do the color harmony creation right inside Photoshop. You’d be able to toggle between harmony creation/editing & feed browsing. We’d fix the rough edges, making the palette feel like a native part of the interface. These capabilities could appear not only in Photoshop, but in Flash, InDesign, Dreamweaver, etc. if desired–anywhere you want to create/browse/pick from sets of colors. –J.]
    Most of all, for details you must leave your work and go to the web-app on the Kuler web page. Sure, you can zap the color into your own swatches, but for color research you get stuck with too many dead ends.
    I stopped looking at popular color themes in the… “community” a while ago because doing it myself in AI (even for a PS project) is so much easier than Kuler.
    [So, to put that another way, is it fair to say that in your experience, the creation/editing of your own color themes is much more important and useful than the browsing of other people’s themes? –J.]
    So just make a built-in PS thing.
    [We could, but the Flash approach is appealing because, for the first time I know of, we could develop a palette/panel that would work across multiple applications & multiple OSes. Changing/upgrading it in one spot would let those changes flow into all apps that use it. Think how much more efficient that could be to develop than redundant chunks of platform-specific C-code. –J.]
    If you’re that enchanted with floating flash panels, make a “this Day in Photoshop History” one instead.
    [Heh–I’m afraid there would be far too many entries saying, “More quiet toiling; check back tomorrow.” But the beauty part is, *you* could make your own palette to do this–or to do lots of other things. The point is to make our apps much more flexible & to democratize the development process. –J.]

  8. It will be great! I already use something like this: I have several small files with special color combinations and the pantone used in some of my client’s products, but having this build-in will be much faster and elegant. And I agree that the more scriptable and easily expandable/configurable Photoshop gets the better.
    Also, the survey seams to be closed.
    [Ah, crap! I didn’t realize that Survey Monkey had a 100-response limit on their free account. Clever, clever. I’ve just whipped out my credit card, so things should be working again. Please give it another try. –J.]

  9. I’m not sure why we’re looking to reinvent the wheel here. The kuler panel in Illustrator should simply be accessible in PS as well. I wouldn’t want to CREATE color harmonies in PS — but I would like to ACCESS them.
    [Why would you want to create the harmonies in Illustrator but not in Photoshop? Isn’t the process analogous to selecting colors–something every app supports? Do you worry that Photoshop would be “stealing” one of Illustrator’s features? –J.]
    The kuler panel in AI basically gives me access to kuler’s RSS feeds, and I have the ability to search for themes as well. A simple click of a button in the panel adds the selected them to my swatches panel.
    Please help me understand the thinking behind having the actual color wheel to CREATE these themes in PS. I’d rather see Adobe just turn kuler itself into an AIR app (not just the RSS feed access as it is now — the whole thing).
    Doing that would mean it would work in any app, so you wouldn’t have to now do more work to add this to InDesign, or After Effects, etc.
    [Actually, it wouldn’t. Making kuler run through AIR would mean that it would run as a stand-alone desktop application–not integrated into InDesign, PS, AE, etc. That is, instead of the SWF interface being hosted within these apps, it would be hosted by the AIR runtime. This approach might be a fine thing to do for other reasons, but it wouldn’t address the desire to have access to color harmonies from within any app. Make sense? –J.]

  10. So this would be the first dropin palette? Great! If it speeds along dropin development, more power to it.
    [Could you elaborate on why you find the prospect of this kind of extensibility appealing? What kind of things would you like to build/see get built? –J.]
    But as a builtin? No thanks, there’s still way too many things that would be actually useful to photographers and retouchers to budget development time for.
    [We’re always open to hearing those ideas, too, of course. In this particular case, I’m poking at ways to provide useful functionality as efficiently as possible. The more efficiently we can do one thing, the more time and energy are left for other work. –J.]

  11. JN: …is it fair to say that in your experience, the creation/editing of your own color themes is much more important and useful than the browsing of other people’s themes?
    I guess if I’m blank I go for ideas at,, colorschemegenerator , kuler, etc. once a month (1hr/month). There’s literally millions of combos (and for some reason most of them are 5-colors). It’s way too much. The Illustrator Live Color machine can do that live, with two or more colors, no pauses for accessing the database.
    For a web site, rather than Kuler I recently used Illustrator to get a seven-color unified palette out of their two-color logo. I could eye drop the colors in PS and DW thanks “color settings”.
    JN: …You’d be able to toggle between harmony creation/editing & feed browsing. We’d fix the rough edges, making the palette feel like a native part of the interface…
    So you mean this is different than a built-in color harmonizer in that the same exact panel can be used in all CS3 apps? If you truly couldn’t tell it was Flash/Flex/Air then I guess it wouldn’t matter.
    [The details of how the palette/panel gets implemented should be irrelevant to most users, who simply want it to perform useful functions. But yes, from a development perspective, doing the work via SWF opens the possibility of sharing it across all apps that can run SWF palettes. –J.]
    Why not make ALL panels this way (so in theory I could open DreamWeaver’s “Assets” window in PS)?
    [Because you have to start somewhere. πŸ™‚ Actually, as engineering is quick to remind me, simply using SWFs as product interface isn’t a panacea. There remain all kinds of time-consuming details (testing especially, but also localization, etc.) that make any decision to support a particular feature something we have to trade off against other work. Still, I continue to believe that we must make it easier to develop extensions for our apps, and that there’s more appeal to a developer when work can be leveraged across apps/OSes. –J.]

  12. I think this would be completely amazing, as long as the PS SWF Kuler panel had an “Add to swatches” button like the SWF Kuler panel for AI. Is the folder-with-plus-sign icon for this purpose?
    [Yep. As I say, it’s just a crude mockup–the kind of thing you get when a PM hacks together some screenshots–and it’s missing a number of details. Still, I figured it would communicate the general concept. –J.]
    I would love to have an implementation of LiveColor in PS as well, though.
    BTW, Color Theory is a standalone app/plug-in designed by Matt Silverman and commercialized by Digital Anarchy. I have to agree that it has many features that are not available at all in LiveColor or Kuler. Like better randomization options, and above all, a series of 10-15 different visualization patterns to see how color combinations would work. These patterns (bull eye, random circles, etc) are so beautiful that sometimes you just wish to use that as an end result, rather than a visualization tool!
    [Good to know, thanks. I’d like to make it possible for developers like Matt/Jim to reveal this kind of functionality in a palette, instead of just in a modal dialog box, if doing so would be useful. –J.]
    It feels easier to use and more powerful than Kuler, but of course, it doesn’t have the “community” aspect.

  13. I’ve used the kuler-palette in Illustrator beta (and gotten used to it). Unfortunately it’s not available in the German version. So besides including kuler in Photoshop, could you please enable it in international Illy-versions? And please let us have the knowhow-palette as well.

  14. I would completely love this idea. I suggest being able to simply drag and drop color harmonies right into your swatches palette. What a great idea. I am sorry it wasn’t done sooner.

  15. In light of the recent logo fop aux, this is actually a great idea. I designed my new site around a color theme that I made at Kuler. This would have been a great thing to have.

  16. Since I don’t know much about Kruler, this brings to mind a second idea.
    I think that ALL new features in CS4 should be a preference, which if non selected would prevent the code from loading and hence (I hope) make the applications faster. By preference I am thinking of an additional pref method, options perhaps πŸ™‚
    If possible, legacy code I know, I would like to see this done with a lot of the current features too. The levels adj layer is an example at least in concept—I use curves for everything now.
    The features could all be turned on by default to help the less experienced users. But experienced users I think would greatly appreciate even a long and VERY complex “set of preference choices” if it would aide speed of operation.
    Bridge is a prime candidate for this; namely turning the loupe/loading 100% option off so we don’t suffer on large files.
    Old historic features that you hate to drop, but would really like to, would be another group to “optionize” (TM pending on ‘optionize” :). Would apply to the extended parts of PS CS3 too.
    Maybe legacy code that is hard to “turn off” could be commented out? or something. Obviously I am not a software guru.

  17. I’d love to have a kuler palette. Maybe Bridge could have a module for managing favorite kuler swatches?
    [Perhaps. There’s always a bit of a trick in knowing which browsing/management features belong in Bridge vs. which belong inside each app. Maybe Bridge could be a front door to all of one’s Adobe settings, which would in turn be auto-synched with a server. That way, any copy of Photoshop could become your copy on demand. –J.]

  18. Often times we need to access the same set of color swatches that reflects a client’s corporate standards and this would be a great way to do it. Aren’t you limited to 5 swatches though?

  19. Forgot to add this and I’m not sure if you can do this in Bridge already. I think it would be great if you could create an “Asset Palette” that allows you to group things like color swatches, images, logos, text, etc. as a dynamic grouping of assets you might need for a client. For example, I create an asset palette for CompanyXYZ and when I fire up Photoshop I can somehow select that asset grouping and the color palette for that company will load and whenever I select File > Open I get a dynamic list of folders that reflects the grouping I created in Bridge. No more hunting around for different folder locations for a single client.
    [It’s certainly possible to add panels to Bridge today, using JavaScript and/or SWF to form the interface. As for having certain things happen upon opening certain files, I’ve always had my doubts as I think it could be more confusing/annoying than beneficial. –J.]

  20. As if you wouldn’t want that!!
    Can’t believe it’s not already added.
    [Heh–hey, I have to ask, and I don’t want to lead the witnesses, so to speak. –J.]
    And while you’re at it, why leave out AE and FL…
    [Why indeed. This, to me, is the beauty part of designing something using a cross-application, cross-platform extensibility mechanism: it has the potential to “just work” in all the apps of interest. –J.]

  21. I never have asked that…
    Is there a reason why (at least from what i know) there is not tools in the SKD to help the integration of a non-modal (native) palette in photoshop?
    It`s surely a requirement to have flash integration!

  22. Oh, i’m also curious about this…
    It’s not question to me that sdk’s, scripting api’s and integration helper’s have trendemous value.. especially for in-house developpement of production framework.
    But i would understand adobe not putting money in developpement if such use is only a minor part of the user business.
    From the activity of the forums, it doesnt look like there is TONS of pluggins/tools developper…
    Is there any public data available about this market? (pluggins/tools for photoshop users and more broadly of CS suite?).

  23. Kuler in Photoshop? Sure, but Photoshop needs more than Kuler. Kuler is a cute way to share palettes. Photoshop’s color palette creation and management is just terrible compared to Illustrator’s and I’ve never understood why this is. I’d like to create custom swatch palettes in Photoshop but being limited to “appending” or “replacing” what is already there is awkward. How about being able to move color groups and swatches around in a list, like in Illustrator?
    So back to Kuler. As long as Photoshop’s swatch management is as clunky as it is, Kuler won’t help. In fact it would likely just make it more frustrating.

  24. How about: use the *same* swatch palette system in Ps as exists in Ai (minus the Ai gradient swatches, I would assume).
    There is no sense behind the different treatment of swatches in Ps- a totally confusing mess, no swatch groups, etc. These are two products by the *same* company, that are designed to function *interactively*.
    Photoshop is used by many as the ‘coloring’ step in illustrations- bringing the swatch palette into the ‘Ai’ world would tremendously help this use of Ps, in particular.

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