Tutorial: How do I create a Photoshop colour theme?

February 17, 2016 - Design, Tutorial
Tutorial: How do I create a Photoshop colour theme?

In today’s post we show you how creating a theme from a photograph and installing it as swatches in Adobe Photoshop is much easier than you thought!

For this tutorial, we will be using Adobe’s Color utility, mainly because it can be easily synced with creative cloud, and therefore, all of your adobe applications. Editor’s note: you will need an Adobe account to complete this tutorial, which is free at Adobe

To get the most from this tutorial, we suggest investigating more online resources to help you easily create your own palettes in our article, 8 of the best colour palette resources on the web

Creating a theme

1. Go to adobe’s colour theme generator at If you already have an Adobe ID, that’s great. If not, you can always create a free one to make and save creations.

Adobe's colour scheme generator

Adobe online colour theme generator

2. Choose your image by clicking the ‘Create from image’ icon. Navigate to your desired image file and upload.

Click the 'create from image' icon

Click the ‘create from image’ icon

upload any image you want to pick from

Navigate to your desired image

3. When your picture loads in, Color will choose a default colour set from one of its Color Mood settings which, as you can see, can be very different from each other for just one photograph.

Picture credit: Blackpool, by Ian Carrol

04 Adobe quickly snaps to a default selection of colours - first of which are under the 'colorful' setting

Adobe quickly snaps to a default selection of colours – first of which are under the ‘colorful’ setting

05 going down the options under color mood drop-down, 'bright' throws us a very different selection

Going down the options under the Color Mood drop-down, ‘bright’ throws us a very different selection

06 muted is different still

Muted Color Mood default

4. As none of the colour choices have really grabbed me, I’ve moved some picked colour points around to achieve a different theme. This is easy to do, just grab one from the picture, and put it where you want it. The colour is live and will change when you move it, so you can see how it fits.

Shop signage picked

I’ve picked out a custom theme mainly from the shop signage

Close up on the shop sign

Close-up on the shop sign

5. All you need to do before we get it into Photoshop is save your colours.

save button

Hit the ‘Save’ button

Save options when you save

There are options available when you save your theme

6. If, after you save, you find that you want to change anything, you can click the ‘edit copy’.

edit the theme before you get to Photoshop

If you aren’t happy, you can edit the theme

7. On the edit screen, you can change everything about the theme and re-save it when you’re happy.


Edit options are aplenty

8. As you can see, when you click on a single colour, there are multiple colour breakdowns which are changeable using what ever colour mode you are working to. Once you’re done the theme will be saved for import when you open Photoshop.


CMYK values


RGB values

To install the swatch in Adobe Photoshop

9. Moving onto Adobe Photoshop. Open the theme palette Select Window > Extensions > Adobe Color Themes.

Open the correct palette in Photoshop

Open the correct palette in Photoshop

10. Your save will appear in the theme palette and is editable without having to leave Photoshop. You can also view it again online.

14 in the drop down menu, there will be options to edit the theme in the native adome theme colour wheel, add to your swatch palette, or view it again online

14a edit the theme natively in photoshop

Edit your theme while still in Photoshop

11. What we really want to do is use it, so under the dropdown menu select ‘add to swatches, and each individual colour will appear in your swatch palette (which you can open by going to Window > Extensions).

All your theme colours appear in the swatch palette

All your theme colours appear in the swatch palette

For further inspiration on creating your own colour palettes, check out 18 beautiful colour palettes from pictures

Editor’s Note:

  • Make sure you are logged in to your Adobe account when you try to open the Adobe Color Theme palette or your themes won’t appear.

This post was written by Quentin Radburn