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Dimitrije's picture
136 pencils

Change background color – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign

Sooner or later someone will ask “How can I change the background color in my document?” A simple question, perhaps, but with various answers - depending on which Adobe application you are using.

In Photoshop, select the layer you wish to change, set the desired foreground color and press Option/Alt+Delete (MAC) or ???? (Windows). To apply the background color, press Command/Ctrl+Delete (MAC) or ???? (Windows). You could also use the paint bucket tool.

In Illustrator, set your document size to match the size of your document PLUS bleed - if you need bleed. For example, you want to print a full color artwork on A4 (297x210mm) including 5mm bleed on each side of your document. In this case, your document size will be 307x220mm and you will enter these values in the New Document window.

Next, click on Object – Crop area – Make.
Then click on Object – Crop area – Release.
You will see a rectangle with no stroke and no fill covering your document. Now click on the desired swatch or pattern and it will appear as a colored background.

TIP: Create an action in Illustrator to do this job for you automatically.

In InDesign, set your document size as in the Illustrator example above. Go to this website and download a script called “0 pt Border All Pages v2.jsx.”

Download and copy the script to your scripts folder ..\Adobe InDesign CS5\Scripts.

Open InDesign; open the scripts palette: Window – Automation – Scripts. Double click the script name and drag the swatch color or pattern from the swatches palette to your document. In the layers palette you will see a new layer called “The Border Layer”.

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Ivan's picture

What you described is how to create a printable background. In case you want a colored background that you don't want to print you can go to Preferences / Transparency & Gamut and choose the color of your preference for both the light and the dark square. This works in PS and Illustrator. I assume works in InDesign too.

elizas's picture
1 pencil

The following Javascript code will help you change the background-color of your web-page automatically and at a time-interval (in milli-seconds) as specified in the code.

<script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">

/* Method To Generate Random Numbers Between "0-255" for RGB Color-code Format & Assign To Body-Backgrond-Style */

function bgDisco()
var x =Math.round(255*Math.random());

var num1 =getHex(x);

var y =Math.round(255*Math.random());

var num2 =getHex(y);

var z =Math.round(255*Math.random());

var num3 =getHex(z);"#"+num1+num2+num3;


JimD's picture
2626 pencils

It seems to me it would just be easier to use the paint bucket tool or fill a box with the color you wish that is the size of the document and place it on a background layer manually. Takes about 2 seconds.

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creativemurf's picture
162 pencils

In Version 11 the way to change the background color is as follows.
Create a new document the go to file > document setup Switch Artboard to Transparency. Then click the top color box and change it to your color of choice. Tick the box labeled Simulate Colored Paper and click the OK button.

jimcra's picture
1 pencil

How about a Joost invite?


Anonymous's picture

I've managed to change the paper colour (by changing the paper colour swatch), but I now need to gradient the colour i.e. bright pink at bottom page and then blend to a lighter pink. Can any one help?

Ivan's picture

I don't think you can do that. You just need to add a box with a gradient and place it in the back.

Anonymous's picture

Don't know.

Anonymous's picture

Hey! thanks! your tip does help.Thanks man!


FM's picture
1 pencil

Hi, I've changed the colour in the paper swatch but when I export to pdf it just comes out as white - any ideas what I need to change in order for it to export in the right colour?


N Golets's picture
1 pencil

inDesign should be called insaneDesign.

anu_littlemaster's picture
1 pencil

I Don't UnderStand

claidheamdanns's picture
5 pencils

You mean InSanely Awesome Design.

Anyway, to change the Preview Background color in InDesign, just go into Preferences>Guides & Pasteboard and you will find a drop-down for changing the Preview Background color.

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Gavin Anderson
Email me if you have a question about my comments.

claidheamdanns's picture
5 pencils

I don't think anyone answered FM's question, and even though it is considerably old, I will answer it here, in case any one else is reading this and has the same question.

When you change the "paper" color in InDesign, this is only changing the apparent effect that paper color on the printed product will have. It does not actually change the color that will print; this is simply representing the color of paper that the finished job will be printed on.

It is rather unfortunate that they did not make an option for exporting this into a PDF, so that you could show the same information to your customer.

But in any case, if you want a color that will actually print in the document, you should add a layer in the Layers Palette, and move it to the back (i.e. the bottom of the layers list), on this layer, you can place a box, with either a solid color in it, or a gradient, as someone requested earlier in this thread.

That color WILL print in the document, and it will PDF in your PDF proof.

Gavin Anderson
Email me if you have a question about my comments.

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