Your basic setup sounds right. What does this mean?
When exiting exiting layout, all records withing field 1 remain the base color, even tho 1/2 records in Field 5 are empty.
What is "exiting exiting layout"?
sorry - existing.
If the setup is correct, why wouldn't the fields change colors?
The most common reason would be something doesn't prompt an object / window refresh. Are these fields all in the same table?
And why would you ask about triggering when you exit the existing layout? Once you exit the layout, you can't see the fields any more, so how would you know they're not updating? I still don't understand what you're referring to here.
a field with conditional formatting will update when it is told to refresh as Mike explained: then the condition will be evaluated. Things is if nothing triggers a refresh for field 5, then you don't get the expected result. One thing you could do is use the OnModify scrip trigger on field 5 to refresh fields 1 through 4.
You either can refresh the window or add a refresh for each of the fields.