A color wheel or an RGB color selector lets you select colors from a practically infinite range. While this is OK when selecting a color the first time, reusing shades can get tiresome. A set of discrete colors in a palette are much easier to use. Inkscape has a color palette you can customize. Here’s how.
The Inkscape palette
Near the bottom of the Inkscape window, right above the status bar, you should see the palette. If you don’t, it’s hidden and you can enable it from the menu Shift+Alt+p.
At the very right of this palette is a button. Pressing this will pop up a menu with a list of all available palettes and miscellaneous palette display options, seen in the screenshot above.
For the longest time I used to keep this palette hidden when using Inkscape for UI design. I didn’t find it useful because of the sheer number of shades it normally presented. I would instead use a set of colored rectangles as a custom palette in my toolkit around my drawing page. This worked fine, but I had to use the color picker (F7) to set the color each time. This is an extra keystroke. Wouldn’t it be great to create and save your own custom Inkscape palette?
Creating a custom palette
Well, it turns out you can. Any .gpl (GIMP palette) files that you create in the .config/inkscape/palettes directory under your home directory are loaded by Inkscape as named palettes in the palette list. Remember this palette from UI Design in Inkscape (1)?
Here’s what the palette file for that palette would look like:
# For my website
43 60 92 #2b3c5c
63 88 135 #3f5887
105 138 197 #698ac5
12 42 96 #0c2a60
20 70 160 #1446a0
117 160 239 #75a0ef
146 17 14 #92110e
229 57 53 #e53935
231 137 134 #e78986
45 48 71 #2d3047
144 142 165 #908ea5
245 239 237 #f5efed
Anything after “#” in a line is a comment. After the palette name, each line contains the RGB values of a color in the palette. The hex # color is a comment. Here’s the custom palette this file creates:
Custom palette extension
Alternatively, there is an Inkscape extension that automatically creates an Inkscape palette file from the colors of selected shapes. Inkscape extensions can be installed by unzipping the extension file into the .config/inkscape/extensions directory under your home directory and restarting Inkscape. The extension will become available in the menu. You might need to hand-edit the palette file to arrange the colors in the order you want.
Inkscape has a swatch feature you can use to create a color palette. Drag-select all the colors in your in-workspace palette and click on the Swatch button in the Fill/Stroke toolbox (shown in the image below). This will add all the colors to the Swatch toolbox (Ctrl+Shift+w) and to the Auto palette. The Auto palette is limited to the current document. Thanks to Brynn from the Inkscape Community forum for this tip about swatches.
💡 Quick tip. Inkscape palettes are particularly useful for partially coloring text in a text object. This is not possible using the color picker. You can do this only by using the Fill/Stroke toolbox or the Inkscape palette.
💡 Another quick tip. This Inkscape palette file containing Google’s material design palette is a useful addition to the standard palette list.
💡 Yet another quick tip. When creating color palettes I often use Coolors.co for inspiration. Their five-color palettes offer a great starting point.
Photo Credit. Featured image by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash.com.