Here is a nice little tip for sampling colors. It’s also the only way I know of if you want to sample colors outside of the Houdini interface.1 Using the Color Picker Tool within the Houdini interface is no problem. It’s when you want to sample something outside the GUI that it’s not so obvious.
Six Million Dollar Question
Let’s say you wanted to sample the color of the Six Million Dollar Man’s jumpsuit. You decide to do a quick Google search and find some reference images to sample from. Go ahead, try it.
As you can see, it doesn’t go well. So you may think, well, I’ll just import the image into the Color Picker Editor. That works if you want to spend the rest of the week downloading and loading images into the color picker and miss The Twilight Zone Marathon. Here is a quicker way to not only sample colors outside of Houdini but sampling colors from within the Houdini interface.
Middle Mouse Everything
The solution is really simple and it’s possible it’s documented somewhere but I haven’t come across it. All you have to do is middle mouse-click on the color swatch without opening the Color Picker Editor, hold the button down and only let go when you are over the color you want to sample. Remember, you middle-click without letting go until you are over the color you want.
Now, a bit of a disclaimer. In my tests, its works about 98.345% of the time. Other times the swatch will not update. Depending on your platform, this may vary. If you notice in the second image above. The swatch dynamically updates as I drag the mouse cursor the first time around but then chokes as I sample the second time. It does however pick up the sample and updates the swatch.
Unless there is a better way, I think it’s the fastest way of getting just the right color of the jumpsuit. You may decide you rather sample from from his jean jacket. Overall, it works quite well and this would make Steve Austin happy.