Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Photoshop CS5 Color Selection Options

Adobe Photoshop CS5 offers several methods for sampling color, an especially important activity for digital artists. Following is an overview of the available color selection tools.

The Eyedropper Tool now features a color sampling ring (CSR). This visual aid provides a direct comparison between the current and sampled colors. A 50% neutral gray outer ring visually isolates the colors for accurate comparison. Use the ALT/OPT key to invoke the CSR.

The heads up display (HUD) color picker (requires OpenGL) lets you quickly choose colors while painting in the document window, where image colors provide helpful context. Users have the choice of either a hue ring or vertical picker, combined with a shade/value square (Preferences > General).

The HUD display is accessed via the keyboard shortcut Shift + Alt + right-click (Windows) or Control + Option + Command (Mac OS). After clicking in the document window, you can release the pressed keys and temporarily press the spacebar to maintain the selected shade while you select another hue, or vice versa.

Photoshop CS5 now includes an optional keyboard shortcut to invoke either the standard Adobe or system Foreground/Background color picker. Use the Keyboard Shortcuts menu to add your preferred mapping.

With these color selection options, the digital artist will no doubt find a picker that suits his workflow!


  1. its rEaLlY aWesMe!

  2. FINALY! After all of these versions, we have a shortcut for the color picker, but it has been nullified buy the HUDCP, which I'm totally okay with! Thank you Adobe!

  3. But sincerely, the shortcut for HUD (Shift+Alt+right-click) is an obstacle for users who use personalized hotkeys of theirs tablets ... or at least it is for me -I'm using a Wacom Intuos3 reconfigured only for PS and I can't create a shortcut for this HUD-.

    Anyways, that's only my impression. I love CS5. The CSR is very useful =)

  4. Yumoto:

    You can utilize CS5's keyboard customization feature and re-wire the HUD shortcut to make it Wacom-input compatible.

  5. I can't use taht function?
    If I use the eyedrop it's the same as in PS CS4?

  6. There is an option to disable the Color Sampling Ring if you don't need it.

  7. I've been asking for years that the standard Adobe or system Foreground/Background be non-modular, i.e., it stays open as long as you want it and you don't have to close it to continue working. What a pain!

  8. Yea I don't get it. My Color Sampling Ring check box is grayed out, I can't select/check it.

  9. The Color Sampling Ring requires OpenGL. You must have it enabled in the Preferences > Performance tab.


  10. Yumoto:
    You can customize the HUD color picker using AutoHotKey. It's a simple scripting language that you can type out in a text editor.See:

    Just paste this into a text editor after you install AutoHotKey:

    #IfWinActive, ahk_class Photoshop

    send,{Shift down}{Alt down}{RButton down}
    send,{Shift up}{Alt up}{RButton up}

    And save it somewhere with the file extension ".ahk" (for example: CS5_colorpicker.ahk).Then double click to launch it. Now the letter "d" should trigger that HUD color picker. If you want to use another key, here's a page from AHK's help docs:

    Hope this helps you guys! ^^

  11. Thanks Loog! Helpt a lot!

  12. Um, hope someone can help. I'm running CS5 but can get the picker to select a colour. I've checked that the openGL box is checked in preferences but still nothing.

    I've used the picker in previous versions and it's really useful, can you help me?


  13. Hi:

    You didn't mention what OS you're running on, but if it is Windows, there are a lot of video different cards, some of which may not fully support all OGL functions. You can go here for further information regarding OGL compatibility.

  14. am i missing something here? do i have to press shift/alt/right-click every time i need to open the color picker?

    why is it we can't have a color wheel that's open all the time like in corel painter?

    i might be missing something but i find this new feature to be totally useless if I'm always having to press those keys/click the mouse very time i need to switch a color. currently i'm just using the old way which is also a pain but seems to be less of a pain as opposed to this new one

  15. The key combo is a bit much to manage...I have assigned a keyboard shortcut to my Wacom Intuos4 to do the heavy lifting.

  16. I suppose Adobe does these things on purpose, so they can save some new features for their next releases. I find it hard to believe this new HUD thing was their real solution to to the problem. Their next version should have the color wheel accessible just like the swatches panel, only it'll be like a color wheel. No double-clicking to open additional color menus, etc. Have it open all the time and just guide your mouse into the color wheel window to change your color. Right now it's a huge concentration-breaker and interrupts work flow to have to get into the color picker.

  17. I can't use the Alt key to sample colors anymore ! It used to work but now it stopped !

  18. When in the Mixer Brush, what happens when you press the ALT key and click and drag your mouse? Does the cursor change to the Eyedropper? Does the current Color Square update to display the sampled color? If not, what does happen?

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