Android Workshop Part 2: Customising the colors

Now we have our app set up, let’s customise it a bit. In this tutorial we will at a Floating action button and customise the navigation bar and colors.

Step 1: The FAB

I’m not talking about being fabulous here, I’m talking about the Floating Action Button, shown below.


We are going to use this button to perform an action in our app, specifically adding an item to a list. Currently the button has a mail icon, we want to change this to an add icon.

The FAB button is a view component, the view of your android app is created using XML layout files. In these files you can add and style different view components, such as buttons and text fields.

Changing the icon

In Android Studio, open the project navigator View > Tool Windows > Project and open activity_main.xml from the res > layout folder. You’ll see a picture of a phone with our current layout in it. This is design mode, this won’t be covered in this workshop as it’s rather fiddly. Instead let’s switch to Text mode using the toggle shown below: Design Mode

At the bottom of the file you should see code that looks like this:


This is the code that creates our FAB button, you’ll notice it has an id, just like HTML elements, as well as some other properties defining how to display it. You’ll also notice it has a src, this is where the email icon is defined. Android has a number of built in icons, for now we will use those. We want to replace:




If you click the play button again now to run the application, you’ll see the FAB looks like this:


It’s the right icon, but the colours are terrible, so lets fix it.

Changing the icon colour

To change the icon colour we need add a tint property to the XML for the FAB. After the line:


Add the line:


This line should go red, as @color/icon is not yet defined, so let’s define it!

Open colors.xml from the res > values folder. in here you’ll see some color definitions. Underneath the declaration of colorAccent we want to declare colorIcon like so:

<color name="colorIcon">#FFFFFF</color>

This will set colorIcon to be white.

Changing the background colour

In the same colors.xml file you’ll see a variable colorAccent with value #FF4081, this is a hexadecimal code for the color pink. This is, by default, used to colour the FAB.

Change it to the color of your choice (ideally not white). You can pick a color using the Android Studio colour picker by clicking on the little pink square next to the variable definition.

Try running your app again now, you should see that the FAB looks something like this: Coloured FAB

Step 2: The Navigation Bar

Still in the same colors.xml file you’ll see a two other variables, colorPrimary and colorPrimaryDark, change these to the colours of your choice to. In general with the Android navigation bar, the dark colour should be a darkened version of the primary colour.

Run the app again and you should see the navigation bar has changed to the colours you picked.