Photoshop: Supporting Global Color on the Swatches panel

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  • Updated 11 months ago
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In Photoshop, the legacy of the Swatches panel is just color references ("archives").
There is no link between the swatch and the object filled with this reference color cause of the Pixel based original purpose of Photoshop.
But now, that we use Photoshop for graphic design and webdesign, we use a lot Text layer, Shape layer and Layer Styles.

In Illustrator, by default, a basic swatch is also a simple reference/archive, but if you double-click on a swatch color and check Global in the option, the future objects (fill, stroke, pattern...) which will use it, will be linked with this Global swatch.
So that, you could edit the value of the swatch to modify all the applied color at once and sync your modification!

Here a video explaining in details my feature request:
https://vimeo.com/84398366 (PW: request)

What do you think about that idea?
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Stephane Baril

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  • happy

Posted 4 years ago

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Chris Cox

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Illustrator works with a few hundred discrete objects, with discrete colors.
Photoshop works with millions to billions of pixels, with continuous mixtures of colors.

Tracking what a color swatch contributed to in Photoshop is like tracking which grain of sand on the beach was in a particular sand castle 20 years ago.
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Helena Lager

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Chris.
I'm sure there are issues But what you say doesnt sound like a hinder.
You're saying that rastered colors "cost" more to keep track of but you don't actually have to keep track of the colors one object has but instead remember the fill I give to the object for example..which is math before fill. Then repeate that to all connected objects.

Right?
Cus what you're talking about is an algoritm that checks what is already filled..that would be "costly" in processing but not if you repeate the math you did before the fill.
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Stephane Baril

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Hi Chris,

Sorry, I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm sure I was not clear :(

For sure, I know that it's impossible to target millions of pixels and that's not at all my request!

My request was about swatches options - global Illustrator behavior - which target and linked only with specific kind of content: Shape layer, Text layer, Layer Style and perhaps 3D diffuse color.
This type of "global swatch" would react like in a legacy swatch (simple reference with no link) when it will be apply to pixels (painting, fill pixels, color adjustment...).

I hope I'm now more "understandable" in my feature request?
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Chris Cox

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That narrows it down a little.
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jacquilyn

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With PS expanding it's vector abilities to better serve web/graphic designers using it, I'm honestly surprised this hasn't already been included. Yes it would be impossible have global color on things like brush strokes in PS, but for the vector items (shape layers being a big one) it only makes sense.

On a related note, if we create a style (using the 'Styles' panel) why can't we later edit it and have those changes applied to all the layers using that style?

Though maybe in a few years Muse will be powerful enough to actually replace PS as a mock up tool. But at this point that's merely a dream and a hope, so those features would be great for PS.
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Chris Cox

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Because after you apply the style to a layer, there is no relationship between the preset and the contents of the layer. Trying to maintain such a relationship with the hundreds of parameters for styles would be quite difficult.
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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I see some merit in the Feature Request (particularly with regard to Solid Color Layers and Color Overlays) but I guess I see some of the problems, too.
As Swatches and Styles currently are Application presets would a file have to also include all used Styles/Swatches and how should it handle identically named items that have been changed in the Application in the meantime and how to handle the additional data while maintaining backwards compatibility and ...?
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jacquilyn

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I believe the standard practice when two things are named the same is to 1 tell the user and ask if the they want to rename or replace, or 2 don't use the name as the unique identifier (use it as a string label, maintain the unique key in the bg and always assume one should change if two are the same).

As far as backward compatibility, Ai and ID (and probably many more) haven't let worrying about that hold them back. Why should PS? Just give users the option to save docs in the old format like other adobe programs.
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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»Why should PS?«
I’m no programmer so maybe this would be no concern at all anyway, it just seemed like a possible source of problems to me.
So far the psd format (with »Maximize ... Compatibility« at least) has maintained backwards compatibility fine so maybe adding that extra information would be no problem to begin with.
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Helena Lager

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Jacquilyn..
Oh harsh! :)
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jacquilyn

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If maintaining a relationship between the layer styles and layer is such a problem, then why can Ai maintain a relationship between objects in the document and graphic styles and why can ID maintain relationships with it's more than hundreds of parameters in it's character, paragraph, table, cell, and objects styles? Having ID's "object styles" ability in PS for the layer styles would be killer since it would save designers so much time.

Cox, making PS in the first place I would have to guess was more than quite difficult. Maybe you should look for the advantages in suggestions instead of just being rude to Adobe's customers.
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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»Maybe you should look for the advantages in suggestions instead of just being rude to Adobe's customers.«
What a strange comment – which of his utterances exactly seems rude to you?

As for the question on why vector oriented programs may offer features pixel oriented ones may not (or at least less easily) I think Mr.Cox’ first post in this thread may not have been fully comprehensive but valid nonetheless.
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jacquilyn

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Mostly his comments in another suggestion I made, but I wouldn't say he's that being polite here either. He compared the idea to a ridiculous irrelevant example and has yet to consider that this idea would save so much time and effort that it might be worth it.

PS might be a pixel program at heart, but it has an expanding set of vector features. For example the Paragraph / Character styles that came with CS6. While they are no where near as refined as ID's, they are still a major time saver. If PS can have those, then why not do the same thing with the layer styles?

No PS can't and shouldn't have swatches that are truly global for even when the brush tool uses them, but this is more about having vector like swatches when using PS's vector abilities (Shape layers, Text layers, Layer Styles, like Stephane Baril said). For example a web design mockup. Say I make a bunch of shape layers for the buttons using blue fill, but then the client decides that they need to be red or a different blue. There's no good reason for me to have to go in and change the fill color of every shape layer one at a time. To my knowledge, there is no way to change them all at once. But if PS had vector swatches, then I could just use that swatch as the fill and change the swatch.

Though I think the UX of vector type swatches in PS would probably be a little wonky at best. Hence my suggesting global layer styles, since it has parameters like color fill, it would fix the problem. Or maybe if I define a layer style on one layer, can I tell another layer to always copy the styles of the first? Basically linked layer styles. You can apply layer styles to a whole group, so PS already has the ability to apply the same set of layer styles to multiple layers. The only difference is for this use case the layers are in different groups for the sake of sanity.

Another thought: You could also create it so the layer styles link to styles in the styles panel, but really what it's doing is copying and pasting the layer styles automatically to the layers "linked" to that style. Just define what style to link back to in a field/column/whatever that old versions of PS will ignore if you want old versions of PS to be able to open the file.

Gosh I write too much stuff. Sorry for long reply. I guess my point is there are many different ways to go about solving this problem.
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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No denying that »linked« Styles, Swatches or even Adjustment Layers could be beneficial in some (or even many) situations and I support this Feature Request.

As for Mr.Cox: I have come across quite a few posts of his here and over on forums.adobe.com and I find that his behaviour is usually above reproach. Maybe his humour is not for everybody but whose is?
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Ivan Paudice

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PLEASE ADD GLOBAL COLOR IN PS AS WELL. I WOULD SIMPLY LOVE IT.
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Michel Thiffault-O'Narey

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This would indeed be a real time saver, and it would also make the inclusion of colors swatches and styles in the Photoshop CC libraries actually mean something. For now they're mostly there as reference.
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Jennifer Scalo

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Photoshop/Elements: Linked swatches.

Enhancement request: Linked swatches. Changing the color of a linked swatch changes it EVERYWHERE that it’s used. Changing the same color in 10 layers is really tedious, even with actions.
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ginvael semen

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What do I think about the idea? I think, that Ps and Ai should have been already integrated to one app a couple of years ago. But no. We have the marketing staff.
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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»I think, that Ps and Ai should have been already integrated to one app a couple of years ago.«
To me that seems about as sensible as »integrating« car, aeroplane and boat into one vehicle ... while there might be cases where such a thing would be useful in general it would probably be wasteful and unwieldy.
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Stephane Baril

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Just to add some new infos:

Something like Ditto but only for one variable in a CC Library (Gobal Color like) for "non-pixels" stuff (fx, shape, stroke, text color, diffuse color...): http://casualnotebook.com/ditto
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Stephane Baril

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Or something like:
http://colorkit.maketheweb.pl/
http://www.codeadventure.com/prisma

But synced in CC Libraries :)
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Helena Lager

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Global Swatches for Photoshop.

It would be fantastic to have global swatches for Photoshop just like there is in Illustrator.

I'm sure there is some technical issue between vector areas and solid fills that I'm not aware of to hinder this or it would have been implemented years ago, such a useful tool. Would save me many hours. I have the need to use it so much everyday.

But there is some fan-made function for this so it's doable. at least to repeate moves like an action only saved as a variable. SO please please look into making Global Swatches for Photoshop bitmap (not vector)
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Shiroi Kaze

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As Stephane pointed out this is clearly possible and it has been for some time like so many other things. I think Adobe just doesn't care about improving their product anymore since the code is too bloated, probably abandoning ship to other apps (like XD).