Color is a fundamental aspect of the symbols that are used to draw features, text, and graphics on maps and layouts.

Color picker

The color picker appears any time you choose a color for something, most often a symbol, or a part of a symbol. It could also be the color of text, a map background, or a layout element. Regardless, the color picker works the same: click a color, it is applied immediately, and the picker closes.

The color picker shows all the available colors from all the current project styles, grouped by their style. Generally, this includes a standard set of RGB colors stored in a system style called ArcGIS Colors, which is part of every project by default. Adding additional styles (that contain colors) to a project—or adding colors to your Favorites style— adds colors to the picker. To remove the default colors from the color picker (to work with a limited set), remove the ArcGIS Colors style from your project. This does not delete the colors, and you can add the style back to the project at any time. ArcGIS Colors contains only colors and color schemes, no other style items.

Modify colors

You are not limited to just the colors you see in the picker. They are there for easy access, but you can define and use any color you like. At the bottom of the color picker, click Color Properties to open the Color Editor dialog box. Choose a color model and adjust the channel values. Click OK to apply the color.

Color models

Colors can be defined in one of seven color models:

  • RGB, an additive color model made up of red, green, and blue. This is the default.
  • HSV, an additive color model made up of hue, saturation, and value (brightness).
  • HSL, an additive color model made up of hue, saturation, and lightness (luminance).
  • Lab, a device-independent color model made of absolute color values.
  • Grayscale, a monochrome color model made up of only one channel varying from black to white.
  • CMYK, a subtractive color model made up of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black channels.
  • Spot, a color that is intended to be as a single ink on a single printing plate on a printing press. Spot colors are defined and managed differently from other color models in ArcGIS Pro.

When you use the RGB, HSV, or HSL color models, you can also enter a hexadecimal value in the HEX # box to define the color. Hexadecimal codes are generally six digits, with each of the three pairs of digits representing each of the three color channels. You can specify the hexadecimal value with or without the preceding # symbol. You can also enter hexadecimal shorthand notation, which is used when digit pairs are identical. For example, #09C is equivalent to #0099CC.

Transparent colors

Colors can be partially or wholly transparent. 100 percent transparent means they are fully transparent, or effectively invisible. A quick way to set a color to 100 percent transparent is to click No Color directly on the color picker instead of opening the Color Editor dialog box. (Note that there are still values assigned to the other color channels when you do this.) When colors are 0 percent transparent, they are completely opaque.

Save colors in a style

To save a color for reuse, in the Color Editor dialog box, click Save color to style. Type a name and, optionally, a category and tags. Choose a style to add it to. You may have only one choice, to save the color to your Favorites style. This will make the color available in color pickers across all of your ArcGIS Pro projects. If you have an other editable styles in your project, you can also add the color to those.

To learn more about adding additional styles to a project, see Add styles to a project.


The ESRI, ArcSceneBasic, and 3D Billboards styles no longer contain any colors or color schemes. The colors and color schemes that were contained in those styles are present in the ArcGIS Colors system style. Color schemes were previously called color ramps.

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