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A new way to work with color in Photoshop.

Software Review: ColoRotate from IDEA

ColoRotate is a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop that allows you to see and edit your colors in three dimensions. By viewing them in 3D, you can more easily see how colors relate to each other giving you a better feel for putting together palettes and then edit them. ColoRotate gives you the ability to edit your foreground and background colors as well as creating adding to your color swatches.

ColoRotate is fully compatible with both Mac and Windows and requires Photoshop CS4 or later to run. By using its 3D mode, you get a more dynamic method for looking at colors within Photoshop. Through the use of a cone-shaped diamond you can select a color, or a grouping of colors, just by rotating through the diamond.

 ColoRotate With ColoRotate there are four main editing modes. The 3D view, a slider view, a details panel, and a browser view. The main view is based on HSL color model. Most people who work with Photoshop are familiar with the traditional RGB and CMYK color models. Those who have been around for a while are also familiar with the LAB model as well.

In the Hue/Saturation/Lightness (HSL) model, the saturation and lightness components span the entire range of values, and as such, contain all the hues at different levels of saturation along its horizontal plane and with variant intensity along its vertical plane. That means that you can position colors on opposite edges of the diamond to correspond to complementary colors. Or you can arrange the colors so their hues are triangularly positioned relative to each other for a triadic color scheme. All of this provides a more intuitive way to analyze color.

 ColoRotate Using ColoRotate you can use the color picker mode or you can use the palette mode. Color Picker mode lets you edit the foreground/background color styles, contrast ratio, and other color adjustments. The palette mode gives you the ability to choose many colors simultaneously. It is from this view that you can also copy your colors to your Photoshop swatches palette.

You can edit in 3D slices such that you can drag through the diamond along planes. There are three types of slices: hue, tint, and blend. The hue mode lets you can choose different colors by dragging and moving the small circles around the horizontal cone surface.

The tint mode a translucent triangle shape is visible. It marks the boundary between the outer colors and your selected colors. You cannot choose colors from outside the triangle. To change these colors you will have to switch modes and return to edit the colors.

Blend mode lets you combine two or more colors to produce a new color. Here you will see a blend bar visible across the 3D cone from which you can blend any colors within the bar. You can also reposition the blend bar by dragging it to the color you want.

There are additional ways to adjust your colors as well. The first is through a color joystick. Using the joystick you can adjust color, contrast, tint, as well as other changes. All of this gives you the ability to edit your color to be lighter, darker, or more vivid as well as change the color balance and other adjustments.

The sliders panel lets you edit in non-3D mode and control each dimension manually. This is the more traditional way of handling color changes. This mode comes with the six different color models – RGB, CMYK, LAB, HSV, HLS, and NCS. For more about these different color models check out the article on Color Models.

 ColoRotate The details mode is where you can save your color palettes on to both your local hard drive as well as online where you can show clients, colleagues, and friends. This mode also lets you add tags and notes into your palettes as well. This only works for palette view

Browse mode gives you the ability to browse and view your saved palettes, favorites, online palettes, and default palettes that are provided by ColorRotate. This gives you the ability to look for palettes using a search feature.

I found that ColoRotate is an interesting product that provides a new and unique method of getting a handle on colors. I like the different ways that you can slice the colors up and create groupings of colors. I also like the ability to work with the different color models. It would be nice if there was a color picker from which you could sample colors from an image, or use an image to create a small palette of colors.

If you love working with colors, like mixing and matching colors, and coming up with new and unique palettes of colors then I think that you should definitely check out ColoRotate. It will give you a whole new look on color.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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