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Fireworks MX Fundamentals

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Abigail Rudner discusses color, texture, fills, modes, and strokes in Fireworks.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Fireworks offers many ways to color in and outline the objects that you create. The inner part of a vector object's color is known as fill and the outline of the vector object is known as stroke.

The Property Inspector contains controls for modifying both fills and strokes. Additionally, you can create your own custom strokes by using the Edit Stroke dialog box to change specific stroke characteristics.

In this way, you can manipulate and control a vector object's color in a number of different ways. You can always modify and edit Fireworks objects infinitely because they have been saved in .png format.

If you haven't already, you can find out the details of working with the Fill and Stroke panels in Chapter 2, "Interface, Tools, and Workspace Overview."

Working with Color

Fireworks supplies several color models from which you can select and mix your own colors. The Fireworks Swatches Panels allow you to maintain color standards for

  • Web color

  • Windows system color

  • Macintosh system color

You can create your own groups of swatches that you can reuse, export, and share with other web designers.

You can mix colors using hexadecimal, RGB, CMY, HSB, or grayscale color modes. You can also set the view of your document to express any of these color models.

As many artists and designers can tell you, colors convey a meaning, energy, and mood of images. It's helpful to consider color harmony and contrast, and to think about what colors mean to your audience.

In our communities, we share understanding about the meanings and associations of color. For example, you might associate orange with danger (or The Home Depot) and green for freshness. Many people still associate pink with girls and blue with boys.

Over the past few years of teaching web design, I have taken many surveys on color and have come up with a few common color associations:

  • Red—Associated with love, hot, stop, passion, danger, warning, and appetite

  • Orange—Associated with autumn, warning, and Halloween

  • Yellow—Associated with cheeriness, energy, radiance, and sunshine

  • Green—Associated with spring and newness

  • Blue—Associated with calm, cool, peace, water, and sky

  • Purple—Associated with royalty, impressiveness, and enchantment

  • Brown—Associated with earth, warmth, home, and chocolate

A few variables affect colors and how they appear; we use a few terms to describe these variables. Although there are no formal rules about color use, many color theories exist. The effects of color on people's moods and emotions have been studied and well documented.


I always found the study of color interesting. Growing up, my parents had a book that influenced me as a young artist. It is called The Luscher Color Test by Dr. Max Luscher (edited by Ian A. Scott).

Color Resources

The web offers great information about color. You can find a good basic article, with resources, on color and designing for the web at

Another site,, is great if you are color blind or have no color sense. At this site, you can find many links, and references, on color and vision, color and design, color and the body, and more.

The Color Schemer was designed to make it quick and easy to create harmonious color schemes. You simply select one color (either by entering RGB or hex values, picking from a web-safe palette, or selecting a color from anywhere onscreen), and you are presented with a set of 16 colors that relate to the selected color.

The Pantone system is certainly one of the world's foremost authorities on color. At the web site, you find yet another plethora of wonderful color tools and resources to use.

One of many neat things that you can do here is click the Digital link at the bottom of the home page. When you click this link, a window pops up that allows you to match a print color to a web color.

Besides what is mentioned here, there are many other resources of interest on trends, and research that can help you on issues from calibration to why color is essential.

Color Terminology

Some terms are worth knowing and understanding when using Fireworks to create or manipulate colors for web images. Here are a few:

  • Hue—The color part of color, such as red or blue. Technically, hue is the wavelength of a color.

  • Saturation or intensity—The amount of color in a color. Technically, the absence of white in the color is what designers call color saturation.

  • Brightness or value—The amount of lightness or darkness in a color. The presence of lightness is measured in lumens.

  • Neutral colors or monochromatic hues—Black, white, or gray.

  • Chromatic color—All colors other than black, white, or gray.

  • Monochromatic color—Color combinations that use various values of a single hue.

In the corporate world, color equals equity, as in brand equity. I spent a number of years working at Campbell Soup Company in Camden, New Jersey, where I began to understand the meaning of color as equity. Think about all the company logos that depend on a specific color. Here are some examples: The Home Depot (orange), IBM (blue), and CliffsNotes (yellow and black). All those brands, if correctly branded, immediately evoke a response. My family refers to a specific brown as "UPS brown." (Hopefully, you know what color I'm referring to.)

Color recognition is an aspect of marketing. The consumer recognizes specific colors and makes associations to the product with which it associates the color. Working with certain colors on the web requires consideration, especially if you're trying to match a specific color.

Printing is known as reflective art. The color that you see on printed paper is comprised of mixtures of colored ink applied to various types of paper. Every edition of a print is virtually identical to others from the same print run using the same inks and paper.

In the case of web design and graphics, artwork is viewed on any number of given systems on any number of given monitor resolutions that might or might not have been gamma adjusted. Art is also viewed on any number of browsers.

Many factors come together that inhibit computer color from being 100 percent accurate to all viewers. Because computer monitors blend red, green, and blue light together to create what the viewer sees, the color settings of any viewer's particular system or monitor determines how the color looks.

Understanding Gamma

Computer color settings are known as gamma and the gamma value of monitors can be adjusted with gamma-adjustment software.

Platform differences, meaning differences between the Windows and Macintosh systems, play a role is this dilemma. Each system has its own inherent gamma setting.

Different gamma settings exist for different systems. The Macintosh system has a default setting of 1.8. The Windows system defaults to 2.2, which is the standard for television as well. Macs generally appear brighter or lighter; its lower gamma setting more accurately matches print output. When you create your graphics on a Mac and view them on the Windows platform, however, they generally appear darker. On the other hand, when you create graphics on a Windows machine and view them on a Mac, they appear considerably brighter.

It's extremely important to check your work using both platforms. Find a happy medium that looks good on both systems.

Switching Between Gamma Views

Fortunately, Fireworks provides you with an option to view other gamma settings (see Figure 5.1). Depending on the system that you use, you can switch the view accordingly.

Figure 5.1Figure 5.1 The View menu displays the Gamma setting.

Choose View, Macintosh Gamma in Fireworks for Windows to see how your art looks on a Mac. Choose View, Windows Gamma in Fireworks for a Macintosh to view the way your work looks on a Windows machine.

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