The applications in iWork have a standard palette of colors used to change the color of fonts, shapes, and even the background color of slides in Keynote. This color palette has a set of 20 solid colors. The other colors are shades of the original colors. Color shades are created by adding black to a color.

color palette

Shapes include other color options. These options include gradients and image fills. Gradients are the transition of one color to another color. Most gradients are usually the transition of a color to a darker shade of the same color. It is possible to have gradients where one color transitions to a totally different color.

An image fill is the combination of an image and a color. The standard image fill from the palette consists of a speckled gray image with one of the six color options overlaid on the image. This is part of the advanced image fill option.

gradient color palette

There are a variety of ways to create a color palette. We will create a color of our own and add it to a custom color palette. Open any iWork application like Pages, Numbers or Keynote. I will be using Keynote in this lesson. Click on the Shape button and select one of the shape options. It doesn't have to be a shape. The same process can be used with font colors. Shapes provide more color options like gradients and image fills. Image fills cannot be added to the custom color palette but they can be added to Image Styles.

shape selector

The shape is colored with an advanced image fill option. Click on the Fill pull-down menu.

box shape selected

Select Color Fill.

color fill options

The shape is now filled with a solid color without the image. Click on the color wheel, it is located to the right of the color palette.

box with white color fill

A colors palette will open. Select the color wheel option if it is not already selected.

color wheel

Click on the color wheel to select a solid color. Click and drag the mouse around the color wheel to see the color update on the shape. Stop when you have found a good color.

selected color in color wheel

Let's assume we want to use this color again on various shapes and text. Since we selected the color by simply clicking on the color wheel we may not be able to precisely select the same color again. This color can be added to our personal color palette. The customizable color palette is located at the bottom of the colors palette. The color we selected in the color wheel is shown to the left of the eyedropper. The square that represents the color we selected is called the color well.

color picker preview

Click and drag the color from the sample color to the custom color palette.

adding color to palette

The color is now part of our custom color palette and can be used in any shape, text, or background.

color added to palette

Create custom colors as needed and add them to the custom palette.

several colors added to palette

The custom palette can hold up to 100 custom colors. Move your mouse to the bottom of the colors palette until the arrow changes to a hand.

hand curosor over expansion option

Click and drag down to reveal the rest of the custom palette.

full color palette

Colors can be grouped in the custom palette by dragging them around. In this example, I will drag the purple color to the first row next to orange.

moving colors in color palette

We can repeat the process with any color.

colors replaced and arranged in palette

Colors can be deleted or replaced with other colors. Drag a color over another to replace and delete the color.

replacing a color

There is no way to undo a color delete from the custom color palette so be careful.

organized colors in palette

To delete a color without using a replacement color we will need to replace the color with an empty well color. Click on the color picker.

color selector

A magnifier with the eyedropper will follow the mouse cursor. Move the center of the eyedropper over one of the empty color wells and click. This will sample the color from the color well.

magnified color selector

The color in the color well to the left of the eyedropper will change to an empty color well color.

selected color in picker

Drag the empty color well color over a color you want to delete.

replacing a color in the palette

The color in the well will be deleted. It will actually be replaced by the same neutral gray color as the color well and can be selected as a color. It’s not a perfect solution but helpful for those that can’t stand all those extra colors in the palette. It's a request I often get from teachers.

replaced color and empty palette color option

These custom color palettes are universal. They will appear in every iWork app.