25 Replies Latest reply on Aug 9, 2017 10:55 AM by rob day

    HSB color picker

    Scooby007 Level 3

      Does anyone know of a plugin for IND that enables an HSB color picker? I really can't stand the color picker. It gets tiresome having to switch to PS for color picking. I understand how the IND color picker works, but there's no reason why there can't at least be an HSB option, especially for people who are now using IND to design things like ebooks. It's a waste of time. Any plugins that enable fast efficient HSB picking from within IND?

        • 1. Re: HSB color picker

          I'm also looking for this. I know that the inDesign colour picker is geared towards print, but for the purposes of web or ebook design I would really like to see an HSB option.

          • 2. Re: HSB color picker
            [Jongware] Most Valuable Participant

            If your native system color picker supports HSB, you can try this little Javascript:


            rgb = $.colorPicker(-1);
            if (rgb >= 0)
            try {
              c = app.activeDocument.colors.add({space:ColorSpace.RGB, colorValue:[rgb >> 16, (rgb>>8) & 255, rgb & 255], name:"#"+rgb.toString(16)});
            } catch (_) { }
            3 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: HSB color picker
              geocresent Level 1

              I'm just getting into inDesign and I don't know how to use javascript with it, but I'll find out and give it a try.

              • 4. Re: HSB color picker
                happybana0 Level 1

                I really don't understand why this was omitted. It's in Photoshop and Illustrator, and it's just as likely someone would be using InDesign for online work (even for print, HSB is a much easier way to mix greys and lighten colors). Sometimes Adobe really baffles me.


                Also, that javascript doesn't really do what is needed here. May as well tab back and forth to Photoshop.

                • 5. Re: HSB color picker
                  rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  especially for people who are now using IND to design things like ebooks.

                  If you are looking for hex values in-tools has a  Hex swatch plugin. You are still limited to InDesign's 3 color spaces for picking, but it also lets you get Photoshop's forground color if PS is running.



                  • 6. Re: HSB color picker
                    happybana0 Level 1

                    Perfect interrim solution! Having to write down those RGB / CMYK values was awful.

                    • 7. Re: HSB color picker
                      Thomas Dearie Level 2

                      HSB would be invaluable not just for online work, but also for the conceptual phase of any design project.


                      It's easy to forget that, before we start production on any project, we actually have to design it. I do all my own production, so I love the production advances that have dominated InDesign's development.


                      But I'm  a designer first and a production jockey second. I'd like to see some focus on the conceptualization end of things.


                      HSB is a much more productive model for conceptual design – it's the model for color theory in design.


                      Human beings understand it much more intuitively than RGB or CMYK. (RGB and CMYK mimic the sensor instrumentation of color vision, but not so much the perceptual end of things)


                      It's also odd that the integrated Creative Suite has HSB in Ps and Ai, but leaves it out in Id.


                      I'd really like to see this model added to ID's color system.

                      • 8. Re: HSB color picker
                        Red Point Level 3

                        Hi Thomas,


                        I think your not alone. Many users would like to see an implementation of the HSB color picker in InDesign. I myself have posted feature request to the InDesign dev team to that regard on countless occasions (today again) only to be fully ignored. It really is frustrating to see this total lack of response from the development team. I must say, I haven't experienced this any where else at Adobe. An example of this frustration can be seen here (its a representative post - one of many): Color picker in InDesign - Graphic Design Stack Exchange


                        The whole color picker thing might be ideologically charged, which of course is a strange concept in software development to begin with - I agree. Lets say this, with the color picker issue in InDesign, its like talking to a wall! It is the "CMYK" wall - to be specific - a remnant from the cold war of desktop publishing. Let me explain:


                        Firstly I would say it is a fact that many users (you can see this on the web in many forums) have various questions regarding the HSB color picker in InDesign missing and are expressing their frustration. I suspect not only users who are crossing over from other creative apps and giving Indesign a try. I would like to see the HSB color picker myself very badly and have been in DTP since version 1 of Ventura Publisher in 1986.


                        It seems there is someone in the development team actively opposing change. Often there are, which I believe outdated, arguments put forward that relate to InDesign as an exclusive layout tool for print (CMYK and so on). But times are changing. Print is evolving from CMYK offset to digital printing. We are also using InDesign as a tool to produce digital content like PDFs that we share online or via email. Although some great new tools have been added to InDesign that seem to reflect a strong understanding of the evolving landscape (like the "publish online" feature which I really love - super professionally done and really works like a charm - even video embed) there are still some remnants of the CMYK guru Ideology poisoning true forward development within InDesign.


                        Every time you hear a response like "you don't understand color space" or "InDesign is used primarily for print and hence has different color requirements" aso you know you are talking to the "CMYK" wall. A remnant of the cold war of DTP. No point in mentioning new trends, new ways in which InDesign is being utilized, changing landscapes in printing technology aso. The CMYK wall will prevent any change from coming to InDesign or, for that matter, will prevent any response coming back to you. I quit frankly could'nt care less about color space. Its like asking a driver to understand the technicality of a car engine before going shopping. Like the driver, I want to focus on the creative process (and shopping).


                        Anyway, I would also like to see the HSB color picker implemented (finally) into Indesign. But I believe this will only happen after resistance in the InDesign is overcome. That being said, it seems that all we can do now is tear down that CMYK wall ourselfs and doing so by popular demand:


                        Hence all users who are frustrated with the current restrictions of the Adobe color picker in InDesign, come and join me in the charge once made by Ronald Reagan to Gorbachev in Berlin 1988: "InDesign Product Developers, tear down that CMYK Wall"!





                        PS.: Many layout changes that were easily done in DTP were difficult or impossible to do in web design (I still remember the Netobject Fusions days). But it speaks volumes, that today it is often easier to create things in web apps than in Illustrator or InDesign. Try to create a one sided strokes box / frame in Adobe InDesign. Its much easier done in Muse (Web App) than it is in InDesign. Seriously, I don't even now if there is a dedicated feature for it in InDesign. Which of course is very sad for software that prides itself to be the standard in DTP. I often think, that it would be good for the InDesign Dev team / product managers to spend a day or two with their Muse colleagues to see how simplified DTP could look like! And yes, I am being sarcastic - sorry about that!

                        1 person found this helpful
                        • 9. Re: HSB color picker
                          rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP
                          InDesign Product Developers, tear down that CMYK Wall"!

                          InDesign doesn't have a document color space, you can define native colors as RGB, Lab, or CMYK either as spot or process. There can be a mix of all three on a page, or if you want you could build an entire document using only RGB or Lab and completely eliminate CMYK color. So ID has never been CMYK-centric. An HSB color picker would be nice and I can't tell you why it's not a feature, but it has nothing to do with a preference for CMYK.

                          • 10. Re: HSB color picker
                            Red Point Level 3

                            Yes of course. My reference was to the voices who claim that InDesign is mainly used as a DTP tool for offset print, hence my reference to CMYK (in relation to an offset print centric use of InDesign). I am aware that InDesign can follow RGB or CMYK (; - btw, CMY are simply negatives of RGB. But i agree, the CMYK wall needs to be renamed...


                            What I was trying to get at is that if InDesign is recognized as something more than just DTP for Offset, maybe the dev team would also accept that a color picker HSB would be an important feature to add. But then again, they may have a completely different reason why they are not including this picker. Maybe my assumptions are wrong. Anyway, thanks for clarifying. Its always good not to impart wrong impressions.


                            My issue with the color picker in InDesign is not only that the HSB picker is missing. The whole color picking process is counter intuitive in comparison to other CC apps. Take Muse for example. Super easy to create gradients. Just click on the color and chose. It always takes me ages (and I am not exaggerating here) when I am back in InDesign to figure out how to bring in swatch colors into the gradient tool. Or to get a tint of one specific color. OK, I can use L in Lab or the tint picker. But not very intuitive. In all other apps it one simple step. Click on color swatch and pick tint. Very simple.


                            I think an overhaul of the whole color picking process could do InDesign some good. Simplify it. Color is at the core of the creative process and therefor an area where simplification / streamlining / intuitive UI's could help immensely. Click > Pick > Go. That's the way to go with color! Also, start unifying color process picking / interfaces across apps. If Adobe wants individual users to use multiple apps more frequently, then unifying the color picking process would help.


                            I would also like to drag a swatch from one app to the other. I create a website, create the colors. Then need to work on some brochures with the same colors for CI's sake. Why not just drag them from one app to the other. I think that is more intuitive then what is possible now. The whole thing with swatches in the cloud is a little to cumbersome for my taste (but that's just my opinion). The first file I create for my client usually becomes the reference point for all other files for that same client / CI (in terms of colors and fonts anyway). Not the cloud. My guess is, many work the same way. And with 20 Gigs cloud storage offered by Adobe, I think it will stay that way for some time...

                            • 11. Re: HSB color picker
                              rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              Simplify it.

                              InDesign's color requirements are considerably more complex than an image editing application like Photoshop or a web app where the document has a single color mode and color management is easier. When I pick HSB color in Photoshop I know when I apply it, it will simply get converted into my document's single profiled color space (which is never HSB).


                              Over in ID things get more complex because I can have a mix of color modes on the page and different output considerations. So if I could pick HSB 5|32|36 do I want a color managed process color conversion into the document's CMYK color profile? Do I want an RGB equivalent to be converted to the print space later downstream or used for screen display? Do I want Pantone Metallic 8540 which needs to output to a spot plate for one print version, a process simulation for another, and exported to RGB for a screen?


                              Or there's HSB 0|0|0 black. What does that mean? Should it be a color managed conversion into the printer's maximum total ink black point i.e., 75|68|67|90 CMYK? Do I want black only 0|0|0|100 for text? A "rich black" build 45|35|35|100 for large print areas? Or is it only for screens—0|0|0 RGB? I could go on, but I don't think you will get simple. An HSB interface on the Color Picker maybe, but I don't see how you could have HSB swatches, which has probably stopped it from happening.

                              • 12. Re: HSB color picker
                                happybana0 Level 1

                                I can't believe this is still not being addressed. This, among many other horrendous affronts against the user and performance issues, are why I avoid InDesign whenever possible. I would rather use Illustrator for almost any layout need (with the exception of a book) than InDesign.

                                • 13. Re: HSB color picker
                                  rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  In InDesign I use the L view in Lab—the interface is similar to the intuitive HSB  H view that everyone likes, but with hue and brightness swapped.


                                  Selecting Hue is simply a rotation around the standard ROYGBIV color wheel:



                                  And Saturation is a move from the center to the outside:



                                  • 14. Re: HSB color picker
                                    jane-e Adobe Community Professional

                                    I have heard this request many times before.

                                    Please submit a feature request that will be read by the InDesign team so they will know it is important to us:



                                    • 15. Re: HSB color picker
                                      rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      I have heard this request many times before


                                      Yes for at least 10 years—usually that means it's not going to happen.


                                      Sure seems like there's a color management reason for it. InDesign handles color very differently than AI, PS, or DW—it can have native objects filled or stroked with 3 different color spaces on a page. That's not possible with the other apps, which have a single document color mode, so there's never any ambiguity about how the HSB representation will be converted when you use it in the document. (see my #11)


                                      In ID the dialog would at least have to have some extra complexity. There would need to be a query somewhere that asks the user which color mode the chosen color should be converted to—there's no HSB color mode in any of the apps, it's an abstract representation of color.

                                      • 16. Re: HSB color picker

                                        I went to the Feature Request page and submitted a request.


                                        I'm sure ID can handle many colour spaces and maybe they're not exactly comfortable with HSB internally, but I think noone is talking about internal colour spaces here. We just want to PICK colour in HSB. I'm sure it's not THAT difficult, Adobe.


                                        Given how much I've seen this topic discussed, I put it down to sadism on Adobe's part. Some sick manager or something wants to teach the world a lesson about colour spaces and stuff and he says "no, you little #$&%!$, you will not be having HSB while I'm here".

                                        • 17. Re: HSB color picker
                                          Ntafy Level 1

                                          Rob Day,

                                          I think most (I'd say ALL) people in here do understand the conversions between Lab and other colour spaces. It's merely a matter of convenience.

                                          • 18. Re: HSB color picker
                                            rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            I think most (I'd say ALL) people in here do understand the conversions between Lab and other colour spaces. It's merely a matter of convenience.

                                            I never make assumptions about reader's knowledge level, and my point didn't have anything to do with how Lab works in color managed conversions.


                                            If you read my #11 & #15 carefully I'm pointing out that InDesign doesn't have a single document color mode, while both Photoshop and Illustrator do. With those apps when you pick color from an HSB representation (there's no HSB color mode) it's explicitly understood that the color will actually be converted into the document's color space. The dialog doesn't have to ask the user to choose a destination space because it's defined by the active document. At a minimum ID would have to add that query to the dialog.


                                            I answer questions all the time from users who don't realize InDesign has no document color space like PS and AI—that makes it's color management much more complex.

                                            • 19. Re: HSB color picker
                                              Thomas Dearie Level 2

                                              Yes - we'd need standardized policies on how HSB colour choices are translated to machine output models such as RGB and CMYK.


                                              But I think conceptual designers only really need to be able to pick in HSB, as its the conceptual front end of the process in which HSB is critical.

                                              • 20. Re: HSB color picker
                                                Thomas Dearie Level 2

                                                Ntafy  wrote


                                                We just want to PICK colour in HSB.


                                                This is the crux exactly.


                                                I’m a college instructor in both colour management and the neurology of colour perception – and I feel your pain in conveying why you want what you want.

                                                =: )


                                                In short - HSB’s utility is in choosing colour, whereas that of RGB, CMYK and Lab is in output and consistent reproduction.


                                                Once that’s understood, the technical requirements in the software get a bit simpler.


                                                It's true, as Rob notes, that InDesign would need standardized policies to translate HSB colour choices to machine models such as RGB, CMYK, or Lab.

                                                But that’s all part of the human-to-machine colour translation and rendering process, even in a doc with no inherent colour mode.



                                                The key gap in InDesign is the human part.


                                                There are fundamental reasons why HSB is important for designers, (but not quite as much for prepress and production professionals).

                                                These stem from the difference between perceptual and machine colour models.


                                                In short, RGB and Lab describe aspects of how humans see colour at a base cellular level.

                                                They boil our colour vision system down to the math of cellular biology and physics so that we can easily render that information to machines.

                                                But neither audiences nor designers actually perceive colour in this way at a conscious level.


                                                HSB, on the other hand better approximates how humans actually understand colour.

                                                It represents how we perceive colour after billions of neurons have used their massive processing power to translate machine data into intuitive, practical, usable information.

                                                And that processing power makes its calculations in milliseconds, not seconds.

                                                So capitalizing on it lets us make more intuitive and effective decisions about colour relationships, and make them quickly.


                                                Hence the practical use for HSB at the front end of the design process.


                                                After many years, seasoned colour professionals will eventually develop an ability to intuitively relate colours in a particular colour model (After 30 years in the profession I can “see” in CMYK.)


                                                But it will never be as effective for design as the hard-wired neurology that lets a child learn to intuitively describe colour in HSB in about ten minutes.

                                                • 21. Re: HSB color picker
                                                  rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                  But I think conceptual designers only really need to be able to pick in HSB, as its the conceptual front end of the process in which HSB is critical.



                                                  Right which is easy in Photoshop because documents can only have one defined color mode.


                                                  Besides the missing HSB representation, InDesign's current picker is subtly different than Photoshop's. Instead of Add to Swatches, the button changes depending on your cursor position to Add Lab Swatch, Add RGB Swatch, or Add CMYK Swatch. That slight difference is essential because you can mix color modes on the same page and the ID dialog needs to know which mode you want for the swatch or fill.


                                                  This is not an issue with Photoshop where there is always a single color mode destination and the swatch representations can be more abstract. If your swatch is the abstract Hue Cube, Photoshop doesn't need to throw up a dialog asking what color space you really want because your document is already set to a single destination—RGB, Lab, CMYK, Grayscale, etc,. but not HSB.


                                                  If the engineers added an HSB representation, it would follow that an HSB model should also be added to the Swatches panel. But the abstract HSB swatch in InDesign doesn't work because if you need to apply it to a fill there would need to be an intermediate dialog to ask for the RGB, Lab, or CMYK color destination—an InDesign fill couldn't be defined as HSB.


                                                  What seems to be a simple interface change is actually quite complex.

                                                  • 22. Re: HSB color picker
                                                    Thomas Dearie Level 2

                                                    Thanks Rob.

                                                    Yes, as always, the implementation is reedier than the wishing.


                                                    Most of the posters here appear to understand the notion of InDesign as an aggregator of disparate file types and color modes, as opposed to Ps and Ai.


                                                    But for conceptualization, that issue is a bit of a red herring, because we really are only talking about the color choosing part of the process.


                                                    Colors chosen in HSB can be defined as per the working RGB policies of the document CSF.

                                                    (e.g. In North American Prepress, HSB would be defined as Adobe RGB. )


                                                    You wouldn't need a swatch-by-swatch intermediary dialog box.

                                                    In other words:

                                                    "Whatever Ps or Ai would do under the current CSF ––– do that."


                                                    Once you set that decision as a default policy, you’re in a device independent color space and any conversion to other spaces will be handled by the Adobe color engine, as always.



                                                    So it really is just an interface issue.


                                                    We're already doing this manually (yuck).


                                                    In fact, I can even specify HSB in completely different apps (such as Powerpoint, of all things), copy down the RGB equivalent, and enter that in InDesign and get good results.


                                                    But it's a huge pain, and I don't just mean in the time it takes.


                                                    Our brains have an intuitive sense for the systematic relationships between HSB of different colors, but not for Lab or RGB.

                                                    So it's more effective to do conceptual design in HSB, then have the app convert to a machine-friendly model according to a predefined set of policies (e.g. a Color Settings File).





                                                    • 23. Re: HSB color picker
                                                      rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                      I've been trying look at this from an engineer's shoes. You and I might think an HSB view should default to an RGB swatch, but if it were implemented that view would not be universal.


                                                      InDesign is still primarily a print application (it's not anything like Powerpoint). In many cases it is correct to define native swatches and colors as CMYK and I could argue the default should be CMYK. And if you really think the swatch should be strictly device independent there would an argument for a Lab default.


                                                      When the Photoshop style Color Picker was added to ID there were endless complaints about the picked colors not being CMYK, or becoming color managed conversions of a chosen CMYK value—50% black turning into a 4-color mix. It was common for some fairly experienced users to recommend not using it at all because it isn't immediately obvious that the cursor position defines the mode.


                                                      If the default were RGB you would run up against this case where I might double click the Color panel's swatch which is defined as CMYK 0|0|0|50 and then put my cursor in the H field:



                                                      Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 3.10.45 PM.png



                                                      If clicking OK or Add Swatch produced an RGB value, I would never get to a black only gray (which I might legitimately need) because the conversion from 149|150|150 RGB to CMYK would almost always produce a 4-color mix. Something like this with a typical coated CMYK destination profile:


                                                      Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 3.10.55 PM.png

                                                      Our brains have an intuitive sense for the systematic relationships between HSB of different colors, but not for Lab or RGB.

                                                      Yes I prefer the H view, but the L view is actually an HSB picker.


                                                      With the classic H view the color field contains SB and the side scale is H. With the L view the color field is HS and the side scale is B. See my #13.

                                                      • 24. Re: HSB color picker
                                                        rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                        In fact, I can even specify HSB in completely different apps (such as Powerpoint, of all things), copy down the RGB equivalent, and enter that in InDesign and get good results.

                                                        You might checkout inTool's Hex Swatch plugin, which still works in CC2014. The Hex feature isn't really needed anymore, but it will get the Photoshop Foreground color


                                                        Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 3.37.41 PM.png


                                                        Hexadecimal Swatches in InDesign | in-tools.com

                                                        • 25. Re: HSB color picker
                                                          rob day Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                          If anyone's interested here is an InDesign Javascript that gets Photoshop's foreground color and makes an InDesign Lab swatch without the overhead of the InTools plugin. If you want the swatch to be CMYK remove the backslashes from the last line. You'll have to close Photoshop's picker before running the script:


                                                          function makeSwatchFromPS() {  
                                                              var bt = new BridgeTalk();  
                                                              bt.target = "photoshop";  
                                                              //convert the script to run in PS to a string
                                                              bt.body = ""+ psScript.toSource() + "\r" + "psScript();";  
                                                              //wait for the result and run the swatch function
                                                              bt.onResult = function(resObj) {  
                                                                  makeSwatch( resObj.body );
                                                          //the script to run in PS 
                                                          function psScript() {  
                                                              var c=app.foregroundColor.lab.l+", " +app.foregroundColor.lab.a +", " +app.foregroundColor.lab.b;
                                                              return  c;  
                                                          function makeSwatch( res ) {
                                                              var l = new Array();
                                                              var c = app.activeDocument.colors.add({space:ColorSpace.LAB, colorValue:[Number(l[0]),Number(l[1]),Number(l[2])]});  
                                                              //c.space = ColorSpace.CMYK;