Colours Colours

by Matt Ho

Why you might want to use colours to organise your sessions

Ever seen a session with a large number of tracks, but you have no idea what is in it, because somebody else sent it to you to be worked on, or you haven’t opened an idea from 5 years ago? This is where a good colour scheme comes in handy to quickly locate your tracks.

Take our exhibit A

An uncoloured ProTools Session

Image A: an uncoloured session in ProTools

As we can see, none of the tracks are colour coded. You may argue that the names of the tracks and the waveform shapes tell you what the tracks are likely to be, it is still a challenge to efficiently locate a section of the arrangement (the bass track, or the piano, for example).

In exhibit B, we see the same project, but with a devised colour scheme:

A Coloured ProTools Session

Image B: a Coloured Session in ProTools

Even at this resolution, with a well thought out colour scheme, it is much easier to locate something we want. I know what colours the drums are, the bass is, and so on...

Some people have different colour codes depending on their personal preferences. For example one of my professors started working in ProTools, so his drums would be the first colour in ProTools (which is blue) in the colour palette.

I chose my colour set because I started producing in logic and I am a “vocal on top” producer (read more about track order). 

A Coloured Logic Session

Image C: a Coloured Session in Logic

My colour scheme is listed as follows (with variations depending on arrangement):

PINKS Lead Vocals
PURPLES Backing Vocals
BLUES Strings, Horns + Pads
CYANS Piano Keys
GREENS Guitars
REDS Drums

Diagram D: HILLOC’s Colour Scheme

Feel free to come up with your own colour code, or to adapt mine - do whatever helps you make sense of your work! This has saved me hours when working with clients - when they say, “turn the bass down” my head goes right to the yellow and moves that fader - instead of having to search for the track in a sea of blue and text.

Keep making colourful music!


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Training Subject
Production Recording Audio Editing DAW Mixing
Creative Technology Center Knowledge base
Last modified
Wed, May 18th 2022