How to design custom test patterns for ColorImpact

The purpose of this tutorial is to gain a basic understanding of how to design custom test patterns for ColorImpact version 3. You will learn to prepare a Flash file so that it can be used by ColorImpact.


You need Flash MX or later to be able to complete this tutorial. (If you do not have Flash installed on your PC, you can download a trial version from You should have basic knowledge about creating and editing Flash files.

Sample files:

Step1: Setting up Flash

To get started, just open Flash and create a new document. We will start with a simple design and perform the required steps to convert it to a ColorImpact test pattern.

  • Start Flash and create a new document
  • The recommended document size is 600 x 600 pixels
  • Make sure that the export format is flash player 7 or lower (newer versions of the swf format are currently not supported).

Step2: Create the basic design

Draw a few basic shapes similar to this. The colors are not important at this stage, as long as each shape is distinguishable.

Color scheme

I recommend that you draw each shape on a separate layer.

Step 3: Convert the shapes into movie clips

Next, select one of the shapes by clicking on it, and then press F8 (or Modify > Convert to Symbol)

In the convert to symbol window, select the movie clip type, and press OK.

Convert to symbol

While the shape is still selected, access the properties panel and give this symbol a meaningful instance name.

flash property

Repeat this procedure for the other shapes, giving each shape a unique instance name.

Note: the instance names are essential for the test pattern to work properly.

Step 4: Publish the SWF file

Next export the swf file and copy it to the ColorImpact template folder.

The template folder is located under the Application Data folder. The easiest way to open this folder is to start ColorImpact in the Test Patterns view. Click the menu button on the Property Palette and select Open test pattern folder.

Oopen test pattern folder

You may need to restart ColorImpact to see the new test pattern in the drop down list.

Step 5: Select a default color formula and create the initial color assignments

Initially the pattern is shown in several shades of gray. To make it more appealing, you can assign the default colors to each element in the test pattern.

The color assignments can either be static, or they can dynamic colors linked to a color formula. While static colors remain unchanged, dynamic colors are recalculated when the base color changes.

Some colors are best left static (e.g. skin colors, plants trees etc), but for simple designs, you can use dynamic formula colors for all the elements.

For this tutorial we will use the Monochrome w/contrasts & grays color formula which offers a rich set of matching colors to chose from.

Select the Monochrome w/contrasts & grays color formula and make sure that Show Formula Bar and Show Linked Colors are checked.

To create a dynamic color link between a formula color and an element in the test pattern, do as follows:

Click on a formula color while holding down the <ctrl> key, and drag it to a test pattern element. You should now see a line connecting the two.

Connect each element in the test pattern to a formula color similar to this:

color scheme assignement


To complete the setup, click the menu button on the Property Palette and select Save current color assignments as default.

Save default assignments

Your test pattern is now ready for use.


Flash is a trademark of Adobe corp.