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Creating Cooler Colors with Adobe's Kuler

Adobe believes there is power in color

Are your colors cool? Do you wish they were cooler? Adobe believes there is power in color. Their new web solution, Kuler, is a clear demonstration of this. In this article, you will find out how to use Kuler to create, share and rate color themes.

Kuler is a new Web-based app from the Adobe Labs. Type in the Web address kuler.adobe.com and you will arrive at the Kuler site.

The focus of Kuler is to allow you to create new color themes. This sounds easy enough. There are other solutions for creating color collections, such as the color palette tools found in some graphics tools through to Web solutions that allow you to convert RGB color to HEX. The problem with all of these tools is that the focus is on creating individual colors. In reality, when you create a print document, Web site or a design what you need is a collection of colors that have a common theme.

Kuler is completely Web-based - a significant first for Adobe, a company that has always created packaged software. It's not clear what inspired the creation of Kuler. The fact that something did spawn this product is good, as we all now have a cool new tool.

Kuler is a designer's dream in that it makes creating custom color groups easy. You can use it to create, share and browse through color collections, so the focus of the site is on color. A traditional color swatch of five colors runs across the top of the screen. The collection of colors is a theme in Kuler jargon. As you might imagine, the whole Kuler solution is in Flash.

The immediate view of the site shows you the highest-rated color themes. Select a new theme and you will see the colors appear across the top along with the name of the color theme, the creator, and tags to help categories the theme. Figure 1

Along the bottom of each color theme are voting buttons and a reviews people have given any color theme.

Other ways in which you can find colors is to select the Popular and Newest links on the left-hand navigation. The search tool lets you search for colors by tag and name. For instance, entering a search on "holiday" brings back some 120 or so themes.

The color theme by itself is very pretty but not much use. What's important is to know what goes into constructing the color. To see the details of any one color you must first select a color, and then choose the "make changes to this theme" button.

The screen changes and takes you into a Details view for any color theme. Along the top of the screen is a color wheel with five highlighted colors. Each color represents a color from the color theme. Each color has the HSV, RGB, CMYK, LAB and HEX values. You can use these values accurately with your designs.

Creating Your Own Themes
Viewing themes others have created is great but how do you create your own themes? If you have an Adobe account then you are halfway there.

There are two ways in which to create a theme: modify an existing theme or create a new theme from scratch.

You are going to learn how to create a new theme from scratch. The principles that you will use for a new theme are very similar to those for modifying a theme.

From the left-hand side navigation, choose the "Create" button. This will give you a basic theme.

The color you want to focus on is the left-hand color. This color is the Base Color and is the pivotal color for your theme. You will see that, by default, the remaining colors fall into a logical color pattern from the Base Color. In addition, notice that the Base Color has a white circle in the color wheel. You can select any of the colors in the color wheel to spread the color pattern.

The default color pattern spread has the label Analogous. You can also choose additional color patterns such as Monochromatic, Triad, Complementary, Shades and Custom.

When you have a color theme you like, you should give it a name. Don't give it a boring name, like "Brown 34," give the color theme a name that's fun such as "Coffee Break." It's also good to give your color theme a few tags to help categorize the theme. The search engine will use the tags as part of its search. Figure 2

Finally, select the "Save" button to save your work. (You can select the MyKuler at any time to view all of the color themes you have created.) Figure 3

Once you have created a theme you can choose to keep the theme private or you can select the "publish" button to share your theme with the whole world.

Kuler Talk
Adobe wants to hear what you think of their latest Web product. Unlike other products coming from Adobe, such as Apollo and Adobe Acrobat 8, Kuler is a pure Web product. The only way you can use it is through your own feedback. To help facilitate open communication Adobe has a Web site you can go to (http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/webforums/forum/categories.cfm?forumid=72&catid=622).

The aptly named "Kuler Talk" is a great place for you to meet other people crazy about color schemes.

To round off your access to information on color treatment and management Adobe has section called Links at the Kuler site. They include:

Color Workz - www.worqx.com/color
Color Matters - www.colormatters.com/
Wikipedia Color Theory - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_theory
Webexhibits Causes of Color - http://webexhibits.org/causesofcolor/index.html
Apple World of Color - www.apple.com/pro/color/

Kuler is a fun, focused new solution from Adobe that has potential. What I would like to see in the immediate future are enhancement that allow sample swatches to export to PDF, create RSS feeds for latest colors, and integrate Kuler into products such as Flash, Illustrator and Photoshop.

This is a great first step. I cannot wait to see what will come next.

More Stories By Matthew David

Matthew has written books for Friends of Ed, Pearson Press, New Riders, Wiley, Focal Press and Peach Pit. He is also experience at leading teams top deliver bestselling titles books that come with accompanying video training and media. An example is Flash MX Magic, a book written by 7 authors, with an accompanying web site and CD. The book sold over 45,000 copies in 12 languages. Matthew is also the author of 400+ articles.

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