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13 - Advanced Color tips & tricks for Adobe Illustrator CC


Questions & Comments

Chris Fleming - 10 months ago

When do you use CMYK vs. Pantone colors for printing? I've had commercial printing companies tell me they only use pantone or only use CMYK. Is it just a company-by-company thing?

Administrator Tayla Coman - 10 months ago

Hi Chris, here's another video with some more information about it, I'll also get Daniel to come and reply to you about the company-by-company question.

Chris Fleming - 10 months ago

That would be helpful! Thanks so much!

Administrator Daniel Scott - 10 months ago

Hey Chris. I made some notes on this a while ago. Here is a PDF of them. Hopefully it explains your questions. Let me know if you have more questions. - dan. https://www.dropbox.com/s/bua9k1fn69g158n/Pantone%20VS%20CMYK.pdf?dl=0

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Video Transcription

Hi there, welcome to this section, all about colors and patterns. There's going to be a bunch of videos to deal with this. First video here is about Advanced Color Tips & Tricks, before we get started. All right, let's jump in. 

First thing to do is open up 'colormodes.ai'. It's in your 'Exercise files'. First thing we're going to do is just recap. If I go to 'File', 'New', just be careful when you click on something like 'Print' and go on and make 'US Letter', you'll see, by default, under 'Advanced Options' down here it really wants to be CMYK, which is the kind of, for commercial printing, that's what they want, but what I find is, everything that I'm doing has multiple purposes, so I'll do in RGB first, then convert to CMYK when that particular thing is getting ready for print, because RGB has a bigger color field, or more colors to use. 

So just note that while you're making it. Let's have a look at what happens if you-- let's hit 'Close' on that. See this thing here, this one's set up as RGB, I can see in the top here. If I go and convert this using 'File', 'Document Color Mode' and I say, I want to be actually CMYK, watch the color differences. Can you see how much that's washed out. I kind of purposely picked colors that I knew would do badly. So if you're designing this way, and there's colors, you're kind of making decisions on colors that they're kind of just, you don't have as many options, so work on RGB before going to CMYK. 

The other thing to note is that you can't do round trip, which means you can't start in RGB, convert to CMYK, then go, "Actually I want to go back to RGB." Watch the colors, just don't come back. It's kind of a one-way street. They came back a little bit, but not as much. I'm going to hit undo couple of times to get back to the full version. So editing amazingness, we'll have to get the editor to kind of flash between the two. So, editor, can you flash between this one and this one. Do it a couple of times. You can't just kind of go RGB, them come back to CMYK, then flip back across, so start in RGB, go one-way street, eventually something's going to convert it to CMYK. 

Okay, boring. Exciting things to do with color, and getting your tricks up is, let's say I grab this guy and I want to change this color, and it always picks this Swatches up here, you can hold down 'Shift', and weirdly it converts it to RGB, or whatever colors you want to work with. So just holding down 'Shift', I click on this guy, drop him down, it gives me Swatches, but hold down 'Shift' before I click it. It gives me that kind of RGB spectrum, which is cool. Holding down 'Shift'. 

Another handy one is, if I select on this circle and I want to steal a color from here, I can use the Eye Dropper Tool, but by default it really doesn't want to. So if you hold down the 'Shift' key, like we did before, and click on a color, it will go and steal it. So if I have this selected, and grab the Eye Dropper Tool, click on 'Shift'. Why isn't it working? Because I've got my Stroke in the front. Come on, bring the Fill to the front. Remember the shortcut? 'X'. And hold down 'Shift', and it will bring the colors through. I've stolen some colors from there. 

Now while you're working-- you can see, my Color Panel is opened. If yours is not, go to 'Window', and open up 'Color'. It will default to CMYK, obviously if you're using, that but it defaults to RGB and RGB is a hard spectrum to work with, right? Because you're like, "Okay, I want to make purple and a little bit of red in it." It's hard to know what to do. You can use this down the bottom here. What I find real hard is, it's like, I want to make this a bit darker. Bit darker. I slide these all along, or I slide them all down. The better color space, the nicer color space to work with is called HSB. It's no different than RGB. Just a different way of looking at it. So you're not kind of changing it. These two have very different ways of working. Hue, saturation, and brightness is just a different way of looking at RGB. That's what it stands for, Hue, Saturation, and Brightness. I love it because, you click on this and just want to make it a bit darker, or a bit lighter, so you're not kind of having to, I guess, guess what RGB is. Same with the hue. Kind of a Hue Slider along here. And obviously, saturation. So I often will use HSB, rather than RGB when I'm picking colors. 

Next thing we'll cover is kind of pre-made Swatches. So my Swatches Panel, 'Window' I'm going to go to 'Swatches'. Now you can't change the defaults, like you can, in something like InDesign. You can't change it forever, which is a pain, but you can import Swatches. Let's say we're working in a company, you just want to have, like on the network drive, you want to use colors that everyone uses. Maybe it's the client colors. So importing Swatches, there's a couple of ways. The official way is the ASE folder. So you can go to 'Swatches', 'Menu', go to this hamburger menu in the top right. Then go, I want to 'Open Swatches', I want to bring in 'Other Library'. What people tend to do is, they use the ASE files, the Adobe Swatch Exchange, and this one it should use, right? You're like, "Yes, that's the one, that sounds good." Problem with that one is it doesn't allow Gradients in it, which is sucky. I never use that one. 

So all you do is, there's no kind of like-- say you got a document with all the colors in it, and it's an Illustrator file. You don't have to export a special file. All you do is just save the ai file. Call it something like, Swatches, like I've done, and just import them. So if I go to 'Open Swatch Library', and I'm going to bring in 'Other Library'. That's going to allow me to find one on my network drive. For you guys, I've got one in your Exercise Files. I called it Grabient gradients thing, here it is, 'Gradients from Grabient'. It's just that Illustrator file. Not an ASE file, and the cool thing about it is that it's just a regular document, click 'Open'. It opens up this panel here, it's got all-- those are all the Swatches we used in this document. These are the ones that I wanted. 

What you need to do is-- they're kind of separate, right? You're like, "Man, they're separate." So what you can do is just select them all, drag them in, and now you've got him in this part of the document. Not the smoothest operation, I know. I wish we could just update the Swatches by default. If you ever find a way of doing that, you let me know. Drop me an email, or leave a comment on this page. So that's a way of doing it. 

Another way is, just to use the Libraries. So if your CC Libraries-- we'll do a full video on that later on, looking at the advanced things but if I go to Library, called 'My Library', say I'm in Photoshop, in Photoshop here, I want to use my Eye Dropper Tool. And I'm going to steal this yellow color, see it is there, my foreground color. Over here, I can say '+', so I want to add that foreground color, there he is there. Cool thing about it is, in any Adobe program now, there's that color Gradient to be used. So probably the easiest way to get things around, and you can set your Library, so I've got libraries for lots of businesses that I do work for. So let's look at Instructor HQ. And there's the colors. 

So it kind of gets around this not being able to do Global Swatches, they're just in here. Always ready to go. And this thing here is changeable with After Effects, InDesign, Premiere, whatever you're using. That's probably the easier way to share colors. A second ago I mentioned Grabient. I kind of ignored it. These colors here, these Gradients, I'm so back into love with Gradients. I hated them, not hate, hate's a strong word. But we all went through our phase of like, "Aah!" It's all about flat colors, flat design, now it's kind of, "Man, it's Gradients'. And there's a really cool site, I'll jump to it now. All right, so this is Grabient. Grab gradients, I love that name. And it's just nicer Gradients, you can look at them and go, "Um." There's a couple of pages of them, and if you find one you like, it's got all the CSS and stuff, but for Illustrator, you're probably best to just click on the first color Swatch, grab this Hexadecimal number, copy it, then in Illustrator, let's say I've got this gray, this guy here, and I want to bring this color in. I'm going to add a Gradient. Remember our shortcut? Remember what the shortcut is? Period, '.', and it's added a Gradient. Let's grab my green panel here. Double click this guy and here's the Hexadecimal number that goes in. So there's that first color, I'm going to drag him off, and the second color here. There we go. Cool. 

Next thing we'll look at is Global colors versus Pantone. Let's look at Global colors first. So I've got my Swatches Panel open. What is a Global color? Basically, to look at them, it's this guy here. See this thing that has a little white kind of cutout at the bottom of it. That is called a Global color. The difference between the rest of them is that it kind of updates. Let's do, for instance, I'm going to do a circle here. Actually I did this circle, I'm going to grab my Eye Dropper Tool, and I'm going to hold down 'Shift' key, and pull this blue. Actually I want go get rid of the Gradient. Remember your shortcuts? Remember, comma ',' is for full color, get rid of Gradient. Hold down 'Shift', I'm going to grab the yellow. And I'm going to say, I want you to add to Swatches. This little New Swatch button. By default, I'm going to do this option here, it's going to be Global. I'm going to click 'OK'. I'm going to do another one, I'm going to grab the blue. And that is a Swatch, but I'm not going to make it Global. So I've got two colors that I made, you can kind of see them there. There's that first one, and there's the second one. Global, not Global. 

What ends up happening is, I got these two circles, I'm going to fill one with you. So I've got two colors, right? Global, not Global. If I had nothing selected, and I go and change one of these, if I change the Global one and I go in here and decide "Actually I want it to be a different color," you'll notice that it reaches back into the document and adjusts all the colors, whereas this one doesn't. If I double click this guy, and say, "Actually I want this to be, remember, HSB, to darken it up. I've darkened it up, the Swatch, but it's where it's being used, is not updated. That's just something you need to know about. By default, now in the new version of Illustrator, by default it really wants to make them Global. I find this probably a nicer way of working. 

The other color option you might find is the Pantone color and they look slightly different. It's very hard to find. Go into 'Swatches', you don't really want to find a Pantone color. If you've not used Pantone, they're just pre-mixed colors. They're often, bigger brands use to make sure they get color accuracy across lots of things. So it's under 'Open Swatch Library, I went into that burger menu, right? 'Open Swatch Library', 'Color Books', and here they are. Probably the most common are Pantone Solid. They're quoted or unquoted, whether the paper you're using is shiny or a Matte finish. If you're using Color Bridge, obviously you use these ones. They're called Neons and Metallic colors, but these are, they're the oldest, but probably the most commonly used. And this thing opens. And you've got your Pantone colors. 

Say we're using 032. 032 Red. And I'm just going to add that to my Swatches library. So that when I'm designing, I'm using that specific color. It's pre-mixed, Pantone guarantees it's going to be that color red forever. You'll only use these Pantone colors when you are doing physical printing. You can use Pantone colors when going digital but there's no guarantee of color. It's only when it goes out to offset commercial printing, not printer, and the LaserJet, just commercial printing. I'm going to close that down. What you'll also notice is that it's a slight different kind of variation of-- it's got that kind of global white slash, but it's got a dot in it as well, that kind of like, instantly I can see which are the Pantone colors. 

Two more handy tips. Let's say I'm going to make two more circles. I'm just going to randomly mix colors, I'm going to go-- I'll brighten it up a little bit, and pick that color. That color, and let's pick something in here. Something really obvious, brighten it up. Here we go. Ugly colors, Dan. But you can tell they're not Swatches yet, right? Because they haven't been added. So if you want to kind of say, "Actually I just want to have this document," grab all the colors, stick it in this Swatches panel so that I can use it, maybe to import to another document. So what you can do is you can go into the Swatches panel, I've got nothing selected, and say "Can you please add all the colors that are used in this document to the Swatches panel?" And notice, a chunk of new Swatches get added. 

In this case it's added not just those two colors there, you can kind of see, when I click on them, see, they're highlighted there, because they're Global colors. It's also added the colors that I used in this Gradient, which is really handy. You can see, that was the Gradient, it was already there but the colors that make it up are now added. 

Another useful tip is, you can go into that same option and say, "Actually just get rid of, select all the unused.” You can see, these haven't been used, and I can delete it. Yes, get rid of them all. Say you are working, and you want to create like a company-wide Illustrator file that people can pull colors from. You probably don't want all the junky RGB colors. You just want one specific to your brand. Mine are looking a little messy, but you get the idea, right? 

Another cool trick is, say you've got purple and you've used it like a 100 times, I'm just going 'Command D'. It's all over the place, you don't have to go find it all. What you can do is just switch out this one. The little trick, say this guy here, I want to switch it out for an obvious color, that pink. All you do is click, hold, and drag it, but you've got to hold down the 'Option' key. It's a little bit hard, but if I put it right on the top of it, it goes and swatches that one out with that one. I have two of these same now, which is not great, but that's the way to kind of go. I want you to replace with you completely. I find that handy, I've got say a Pantone color. I want to get rid of you, buddy. Just drag that kind of corresponding CMYK color on top of him and it will replace it. Holding down the 'Option' key on a Mac, or the 'Alt' key on a PC.

Last bit of this advanced color nerdry is that you can now, in the new version of Illustrator, you couldn't do it before, is you can put Gradients on Strokes. And there's a few things you can do. First of all, at the moment if I add a color to it, a Gradient to it, it's doing it to the Fill, so I'm going to undo. Remember our shortcut? We want to bring the Fills at the front, Strokes at the back, remember what it was? 'X' key, and watch the Swatches down here. Just brings the Stroke to the front. Then I'm going to pick on you. Say I've decided-- I've just kind of like that color the most. By default it goes along on a Stroke, which is really cool. 

There's a couple of options. So, under 'Properties', click on 'Stroke'. Actually not there at all, it's under 'Window', 'Gradient'. So in here what you're looking for is these options. At the moment it's just kind of filling it left to right. So if I click on this guy, and say, "Actually, I want to do the same thing," I'm going to fill him up. It goes left to right, it's a bit more of a spiral. If I select on it, and click on this second option, it's going to apply along the Stroke, so it kind of flows along. Remember, earlier in this course, I said we did keyboard shortcuts a little while ago. Remember 'Command H'? That get rids of all the lines, remember, 'Command H' on. It's hard to see the Gradients. 'Command H' turns all the Anchor Points off, just a little easier to use. Even 'T' or Direct Selection Tool as well. It's still selected, so I can mess around with it but I can save a little easier. 

That brings up that last option. Across the Gradient it can be handy. So it's going kind of left to right, rather than along it or just going completely across it. So that's going to be it for color goodness. I'm going to hit 'Command H' just to turn this back on in case we get lost later on. But that's it, let's look at more color stuff in this Colors & Patterns section. All right, let's go to the next video.

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