Quick-guide to ASE Color Swatch Libraries

I started using ASE (or Adobe Swatch Exchange) swatches after stumbling across Adobe’s Kuler a few years back. I now use ASE swatch libraries for most of my client’s projects. Download the ASE file for the color palette at the top of this article.

So what are ASE Swatch Libraries? ASE’s are basically customized color palettes in which you choose colors and export them to a self-contained file from Illustrator for future use in Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop. Importing the ASE files works very much like importing any other color swatch such as the preset Pantone® colors. Once imported the swatch will give you a stand alone palette window to hold your colors.

ASE files are a great tool to utilize when you have several different projects which use the same color scheme (such as company colors). It also helps designers/production artists/illustrators from inadvertently using a wrong color when manually adding in each color. If you have a project that requires a team of people, ASE files are a quick and easy way to share the color palette and also ensure the correct colors are being used.

Create your own ASE Color Swatch:

  1. Open a new document and draw a box for each color you would like in your color swatch.
  2. Fill each box with your desired color.
  3. Select all of the colors in the existing color swatch window and delete them.
  4. Now that you have an empty swatch window. Click each square that you created and drag the colors into the swatch library.
  5. To export your ASE file, simply go to the drop-down box in the color palette and click. “Save swatch library as ASE…”
  6. Name it, click safe and you are done.

Import a ASE Color Swatch into Illustrator:

  1. In an open or existing document click the drop down arrow on your Swatches Palette
  2. Select “Open Swatch Library>Other Library
  3. Select the ASE file you would like to import and click open
  4. A new palette box will appear with your imported colors

The following videos are a visual walk-through to import and export the ASE swatches.



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