Colour Picker and Themes

Started by jimatpetards, February 09, 2011, 04:05:56 PM

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Hi All

My company has bought Visio 2010 - "Lucky you" they said, we'll just take Visio 200 off your new Windows 7 Machine.......

My productivity has dropped to about 5% now... Apart from the negative "improvements" to the interface my problem is trying to keep continuity with all the previous Visio 2000 files I have and that other people use to interact with me!

I can't possibly use any of the sick making 'Themes' with their insipid/vibrant colours and I don't want to use the bright garish primary standard colours! So, is there any way of changing the colours in the colour picker apart from trying to keep the 'last used line' full of the colours I actually want?

The daft part is that I select 'no-theme' and yet the colour picker seems to think that I do have a 'theme' selected, but doesn't say which it is!

Naturally I've restored all the frequently used Icons to Quick access toolbar and I'll try to work out why the arc tool is so rubbish while I wait hopefully for a reply from you all!

I know I'm moaning, but I'm a nice guy really!


Visio Guy

Hi James,

You're right that it's a pain if you don't want to use themes. Visio isn't an illustration program, but it darn near could be (as many of my articles demonstrate.)

You could set up a bunch of rectangles with carefully chosen fill and line colors, then use the Format Painter to apply them to your shapes. Trouble is that Format Painter blasts everything, font attributes, line, fill, shadow.

I've programmed my own Selective Format Painter, looks like I need to publish and sell my suite of illustration tools...
For articles, tips and free content, see the Visio Guy Website at
Get my Visio Book! Using Microsoft Visio 2010


I think the reason for introducing themes was to make diagrams look consistent, i.e. to "force" customers use only one theme colors in one diagram.
So that even if a customer does not have an "aesthetic sense" in colors his diagrams sill look "nice".

BTW you are right it might be a good idea to implement a custom color picker ribbon button for Visio 2010
which looks and behaves exactly the same way as the standard one (including "live preview"), but has a custom (selectable) non-themed color set.


Hi All

Thanks for the responses -Sadly Visio has been 'dumbed down'. It now seems to be a tool for presentation work only.

Microsoft are now 'telling' us what colours to use and not making a flexible tool for the end user!

If I could find an alternative program I would drop Visio in an instant. (And Windows 7)


Visio Guy

I would call what they did actually "smart colors" or something. Although it gets in my way a lot, I am not a typical Visio user.

They allow you to color things in "shades of a color", and give you the flexibility to change the color without breaking anything. It's pretty intelligent, actually.

And you can design your own theme, which has your own set of colors, so you could still use the Visio 2010 interface, apply "theme colors" and still get the right effect. I'd love to create a tool that imports, say Kuler color palettes color and creates a Visio theme automatically (if Saveen Reddy hasn't already...)

If you pick explicit colors from the color palette, then those are not theme colors and will not float with the theme. The only thing missing is a better color palette for those using distinct colors. Visio has the flexibility to allow someone to create an add-on tool for making this easier.
For articles, tips and free content, see the Visio Guy Website at
Get my Visio Book! Using Microsoft Visio 2010


Hmmm - still a retrograde step to force you to adopt a colour scheme, the XP colour picker could have been adapted for 'Themes' AND still allow you fixed 'custom colours'. Changing colours in an object isn't a function of the colour picker.

Windows 7 and Visio, etc are prime examples of a company trying to offer 'new, improved' for the sake of producing 'improvement' and then just messing it up.

I'm still open for a way of restoring normality!! :-)



Is there now a way to import a custom color palette from kuler, adobe exchange, etc. into Visio 2010?

I'm new to Visio and a designer. I've been using Photoshop since the first Bush Administration.

I have a specific color palette (web colors in hex numbers) I need to use for a Visio drawing. I can import a png into Visio with the specific colors in it but I don't see any way to use a color picker to select colors from this png. I see where I can create custom colors using RGB or HSL numbers but this seems so time consuming for a large (10-20 custom colors) color palette.

Are there add-ons which give one this ability?

Thank you,


@mattone - Would a tool that reads in a list of colors from a text file or from a png and creates a document using those colors (for example a series of rectangles, each having that color) be what you are looking for?


I think that would be very handy!  Not quite as flexible as a color picker, but, it's a step in the right direction.  Yes, trying to move Visio into an area not originally chartered!

Visio 2019 Pro


Once I made a kind of color picker in water color frame simulator in Visio VBA.
It uses Windows API functions.
This test program is a part of that, is not complete program, and has bugs.
I think it is not easy for color picker to run well in VBA.
Best Regards,

Junichi Yoda


@saveenr the ability to add a text files list of color to Visio would probably be faster than its current interaction WHEN one has a multi color palette to import. Absolutely. Better still would be the ability to import one of the existing color exchange formats like kuler, adobe's color exchange (ASE) I believe. when I'm using color I don't think in terms of text data, but rather color pickers and swatches. Visio users would benefit from having more color models to choose from too eg hex for web colors, cmyk, lab.