FrameMaker allows one or more characters of the paragraphs font or by using a character format by any other character formatting. Therefore it is possible to create a colored symbol, but only a single color. Also in general, characters are opaque objects, so you can build multicolor symbols from several character, positioned on top of each other (I have used that to create black/yellow warning signs), but shading and depth is clearly the domain of images.
If you don't have too many images that you want to use for the "bullet" symbols, then you could do this using two paratag styles and reference frames to hold the images.
Create one paratag (e.g. bullet_image) that uses the Frame Above referenced to the desired image in a reference frame on the Reference page (you'll need to play with the size and location of the image within the reference frame to get the margins correct) . Then on the Basic tab, set the Space Below to a negative value of the line spacing in the bulleted paratag, set the Line spacing to zero and set the Next Pgf Tag to be the one that you actually want to be the text entry (e.g. bullet_text).
In the actual bullet text paratag (e.g. bullet_text) adjust the left margins so that it doesn't overlap the "bullet" and set the Space Above to be the same negative spacing set in the previous paratag. You can optional set the Next Pgf Tag to be the bullet image (e.g. bullet_image), if you wish to keep adding bulleted items in a list.
What this does is move the text line (from the bullet_text tag) up and over top of the previous (bullet_image) paratag, so that it will appear that the image sits beside the text entry (acting as a bullet).
To use this, apply the bullet_image paratag, hit Enter and type in the text for the bullet_text tag, hit Enter twice (when the Next Pgf Tag is set to the bullet_image paratag) and keep going...
Moderately hard to set up, dead easy to use.
Michael & Arnis: Thanks for the suggestions.
I am reluctant to implement the two paragraph tag solution because it would mean having to go into our multi-product doc set and add the extra line break between the bullet image's paragraph tag and the bullet's text paragraph tag for every occurrence of the existing bullet paragraph tag. I will keep this idea in mind the next time I create a new template.
I think the overlapping opaque characters might get me closer to what I need with minimal rework to our existing doc set.
Where an iconic character (like the default bullet) will do, and only color variation is needed, the standard formatting tools suffice, as long as you don't mind some clutter in the catalogs.
For example, if you want a black-text bulleted format to have a red bullet:
- <define color - in this case Red already exists>
- Create a Character Format named "Red" that is As-Is for everything except Color: Red
- Create a Paragraph Format named: Bulleted.Red that has...
- Autonumber property of standard \b\t\, but
- Character Format: Red