How to use color palette in Photoshop. This video shows you three ways to choose color in Photoshop for digital artists. How to make your custom color palette Also learn to use HSB scale in photoshop for beginners. I hope you will find this tutorial useful. OK, I usually have my own palette whenever I work on a piece. But occasionally I will need to add some more color and hue to my new work.

It is really difficult to find the right color for your art work. Also once you find the color scheme, you will need to make it consistent throughout.
Color is still one of the hardest thing in painting, no matter how experienced you are. Here are a few technique that will make your life easier when painting.
1) Use HSB slider window. This is what I usually do when I want to find new color. I also use this a lot to check my value for correct lighting. It is the most useful default function to deal with color and value in Photoshop.
2) Use default swatch window. My least favorite. But it does have it owns advantage. If you work within a team, you can specify color palette for specific project. And you can easily distribute the swatch to everyone in the team. But that was way back in the day that you had to optimize color to save space in video games.
3) Make your own custom color palette. This way I find most useful for me. You can make your custom gray scale slot. Then color palette blocks. And you can also bring color wheel into your own custom palette. Once you have color in your palette, you can create your own gamut map with it.

Also You could find some plugins but that will cost you some money for good ones.

Here is my color palette: It’s not much, just a bunch of scribble paint of my favorite color range. As for finding value, digital make it easy or I can just use the basic gradation I have on there.

digital painting color palette idrawgirls

digital painting color palette from idrawgirls

Though, the palette I have sometimes doesn’t provide me with everything I need. But 90% of the time, those are all the color I basically can use all the way to finish illustration.

So…to find you color on your own here are the basic guide.
I always use (most artists do) HSB scale window in Photoshop. It makes sense to us as a painter or artists more so than RGB.

Here is a HSB scale:

hsb color scale Photoshop

hsb color scale Photoshop

HSB scale is very self-explanatory:
You can pick rearrange three things that will produce you a result you are looking for.

H = Hue (Hue is one of the main properties of a color described with names such as “red”, “yellow”, etc. The two other main properties are lightness and colorfulness.)

S = Saturation (In colorimetry and color theory, colorfulness, chroma, and saturation are related but distinct concepts referring to the perceived intensity of a specific color. Colorfulness is the difference between a color against gray. Chroma is the difference of a color against the brightness of another color which appears white under similar viewing conditions. Saturation is the difference of a color against its own brightness.)

color saturation

color saturation

Top (red) is 100% saturation, bottom (gray) is 0% saturation

B= Brightness [(also called effulgence) is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to emit a given amount of light. In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target. This is a subjective attribute/property of an object being observed.]

Gray Scale (Brightness), very useful in illustrate black and white illustration or practicing value in painting.

gray scale window Photoshop

gray scale window Photoshop

As for RBG and others, they have their own purpose. It is really hard to almost impossible to be able to select accurate color of choice using RGB color with naked eye. I just don’t bother using them. But hey, if you know how to use RGB scale to paint by all means, do so.

rbg color window Photoshop

rbg color window Photoshop

Hopefully this post is helpful.

Or you can use color wheel open as a window to pick color while you are working.  Suggested by our viewer on the comment.

Here are some you can download.  But then you will have to tweak the saturation level on you HSB scale still.

color wheel digital

color wheel digital

More drawing and painting techniques.
-Photoshop tutorial overlay mode
-Photoshop tutorial overlay mode part 2
-Photoshop tutorial using multiply mode

How to use color palette in Photoshop

| Tips and techniques | 8 Comments
About The Author
- Xia Taptara (黃曉聲 Huang XiaoShēng), currently a freelance concept artist for games and films, formerly a character concept artist for ArenaNet/NCsoft (GuildWars & Guildwars 2). I also work on various projects for Game of Thrones, Square-Enix, Paizo Publishing, Fantasy Fight Games, Disney Interactive, and many publishers & clients. I use Wacom Tablet Intuos and Photoshop CS2,3,4,5 to do most of my professional art work. I use pencil, pen, and traditional medium in my free time. I founded ( in 2007 to motivate myself to create more and better art. Also I get to draw and paint whatever the hell I want to. Hopefully I can inspired some young soul and old soul alike. *QUESTIONS & COMMENT: PLEASE POST THEM ON THE BLOG. Business Inquiry please e-mail me.


  • Joe Bard

    Hi xia i got drawing essentials 1 and in the i got ‘xiapalette’ can u tell me how to actually use it in photoshop? for me its just a photo, thanks

  • Xia Taptara

    Hi Joe, those are for digital painting. Since you are drawing with pencil, you do not need them. It is irrelevant, it is just an image like a palette you can pick color from. Nothing complicated. You can only use them in Photoshop.

  • Christo

    Hi. I`m going to ask a very very basic question. How do you make the palette file? I mean the small palette rectangle in the corner while working. (The FIRST picture on this page) . Is that a separate file? How are the colors placed on it? How are they mixed? Very sorry. I`m really struggling with that. Thanks. 🙂


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