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 color.adobe.com. 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

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 upload any image you want to pick from

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 05 going down the options under color mood drop-down, 'bright' throws us a very different selection 06 muted is different still

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

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

save button Save options when you save

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

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


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.


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

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

14a edit the theme natively 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

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.