Swatch Definition: What is a Color Swatch

In a world constantly being driven by social media and the internet, graphic design has become a crucial factor for businesses and individuals alike. And if there is one element of graphic design that you simply can't do without, it's the use of colors.

Colors may very well be the main components used to develop your brand. Needless to say, it is crucial for the graphic design to incorporate the correct color palette. For maximum impact, your organization's colors need to be presented in an extremely precise and consistent manner. Well, to achieve this you'll need to use a color swatch.

To break it down, color swatches are basically a show of different colors, gradients, patterns and tints, which you can use to select a perfect match. We shall delve a bit more into it and how to use color swatches for your graphic designs.

What is a color swatch?

As mentioned before, a color swatch is simply a palette showing a variety of shades of the same color. In the physical world, they would be presented as small pieces of fabric with the name and identification number for a specific color on it.

A swatch is usually used as an identifier in various industries when creating company brand colors. You see, each color tends to have a particular psychological effect that can make customers interpret your products, services or presence in a certain manner. The trick is to choose a gradient or shade which aligns with your organization's primary goal and implement that very same gradient in your website and company's other platforms.

Graphic design apps like CorelDRAW allow you to design custom color palettes, select from their huge palette libraries, color viewers, or color blends, allowing the designer to be fully immersive with their art. You can also save different gradients and colors and easily reuse them in your design process.

How to use color swatches in your art

For most beginner graphic designers, it can be challenging to create a specific tone within their artwork. And this is mainly because of the wide variety of color swatches out there. However, color swatches are still a must-have feature for all graphic design software.

By filtering through the rows and columns of colors, you can find color palettes specific to a certain tone or theme. The rainbow color swatch, for instance, has all the colors from red to violet.

Let's take a look at the different color swatch options you'll find in CorelDRAW and the different coloring tools the software offers.

Default color swatch

The default color palette is a collection of color swatches based on the primary color mode of the document you are designing. For example, if you are using RGB as the primary color model, the default color palette is also RGB. The default color palette is usually automatically selected when you create a new drawing, but you can open and use an additional color palette at any time.

Document color swatch

The document color swatch is generated when you create a new drawing. It is usually empty at first, but as you continue using different colors, it keeps track of them and stores them together with your document or project for future use.

Custom color swatches

Custom color swatches can include colors from any color model, including swatches from the Swatch libraries, such as the spot color palette. CorelDraw lets the designer save the custom swatch for future reference and also share it with other designers. They are stored as XML files in a specified folder, so it is quite easy to retrieve them.

Swatch libraries

Swatch libraries can include color palettes from third-party manufacturers. The downside to this is that the colors cannot be edited directly. When using a swatch library, it could be useful to have on hand the manufacturer's swatch. This is basically a collection of color samples that show what the color will look like when it's printed. The PANTONE solid coated color swatch is an example of a palette from the software's palette libraries.

Sampling colors

If you want to use a color from a drawing but you don't know its name or code, you can sample the color to achieve the exact match. However, you have to be careful because only a single pixel is sampled by default, so it is easy to sample the wrong color.


Color swatches are a great way to experiment with color combinations. The good thing is that they can be used in many different ways. If you're an artist looking for inspiration or just want to see what colors go together well, try browsing through some examples of color swatches on the internet. However, you stand to gain more using a comprehensive graphics design app like CorelDRAW. The app comes with an array of color swatches and other tools that make the whole design process easier and more efficient.

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