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This installment of Illustrator Insider Training shows an expert's approach to color choice and control in Illustrator. Mordy Golding guides experienced designers and artists through what he sees are the three stages of applying color to artwork: creation, inspiration, and editing. The course also shows how to build art in a way that allows artists to make changes quickly and how to take advantage of the newer features that have been added to Illustrator over the recent versions.
When working with colors there are times when those colors are specific to one document and then of course, there are times when you want to use those colors across multiple documents. Take this example right here. We've already gone through the process of taking these color chips and creating color palettes. Then we've turned those into color groups inside of this Swatches panel. But these are my Corporate colors for this company called Hansel & Petal. I want to now be able to use these colors across many of the different projects I'm going to be creating for this particular client.
Now if I'm a freelance designer and I have many clients, I may want to have different libraries of color for each of my clients, or if I am working in a large company I may have a variety of different projects that I'm working on and I may have different color palettes that I've created for each of those projects. A fashion designer may have different seasons they are working with. So what we really want is some ability not only to create these swatches and organize them into groups, we also want to save these as complete libraries that we can call up and access as we need them.
Doing so is actually pretty simple. All I need to do is go over to flyout menu of the SWATCHES panel, and then at the bottom of the list over here choose to Save the Swatch Library as AI. Now it's important to realize here that I have two options; I've something called Save Swatch Library as ASE, and I have something called Save Swatch Library as AI. And the ASE library, which stands for Adobe Swatch Exchange is a universal library format that works across InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.
So if I've these colors that I've created right now, and I want to share those with other applications, for example, I maybe working on a brochure than I'm doing inside of InDesign, or I maybe working with some images inside of Photoshop, and I want to access these colors in those applications as well, so I could save these swatches as an ASE file. I could then go into other applications and load those swatches. It's important to realize though that ASE files can only contain solid colors; meaning they can't contain gradients or patterns, and that format also does not support the concept of groups.
Only Illustrator has the ability to organize your swatches into distinct groups, however, both Photoshop and InDesign don't have that capability. So if you save your file as an ASE file, you're going to lose your group structure. Now in our example here, I'm going to be using this library back inside of Illustrator again. So I'm going to choose to save my Swatch Library as an AI file, this will allow me to not only maintain my group structure that I'm creating inside of the Swatches, it will also support the ability to include Gradient and Pattern swatches that I may have in my file as well.
So I'm going to choose this option and I'm going to give my file a name. This is going to be Hansel & Petal, my corporate colors, so I'm going to call this one, HANSEL_CORPORATE. Now I'm going to click Save, and I've just now successfully created this library file. How do I access that file? Well, if I go to the lower left-hand corner of the Swatches panel, the same place that I went to when I was looking for PANTONE libraries, for example. I can scroll down through this list all the way to the bottom where there is now something here called User Defined, and my HANSEL_CORPORATE library is now here.
If I choose it, it now shows up as an external library file. I can now choose to bring those colors into my document by clicking on them or dragging them in. So, for example, I'm going to create a New Document here by pressing Command+N or Ctrl+N and I'm going to use now the New Document Profile for Print. Notice now that my corporate colors were not in this document, but just by clicking on any of these folders, I can actually add those color groups directly now through this document. Now it is important to realize where these library files are actually stored so that when you click on this button over here, Illustrator is able to see them in this User Defined submenu.
When you save your swatch library file, Illustrator automatically puts it in a certain location. I want to show you where that location is so that you can actually place files there yourself. I'm going to go to my Finder here, and I'm going to navigate to my own user folder, my folder is called mordygolding, but your username probably would be your own name. And I'm going to the Library folder and open that up. Inside the Library folder I'm going to go to Application Support, and then I'm going to go to Adobe > Adobe Illustrator CS5 > en_US, and that's because that is now English US in my computer, if you're using a different language you would see it there listed.
I'm going to scroll down over here to a folder called Swatches and here you can see that HANSEL_CORPORATE.ai file, that's the library file that I saved. If you're on Windows, the location where you need to save these files is under Documents and Settings, your Username > Application Data > Adobe > Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings and then again en_US. It's important to realize that a color library is simply an Illustrator file, so you can take any Illustrator file on your system and copy it into this Swatches folder and it will show up as a library file inside of Illustrator.
In other words, any swatches that appear inside of that Illustrator file can be loaded as an external library. Now if we go back to Illustrator here for a moment and I take a look at the libraries that I have access to, once again, down here at the bottom where it says, User Defined, I have my library that I created. However, I'm not restricted to only working with libraries that appear in that folder. I could of course, go to choose this option called Other Library and then point to any other location on either a server or my hard drive.
I can point to any other Illustrator file and Illustrator will load up any of the swatches that appear inside of that Illustrator file, as external libraries that I can move colors from it into my document. I'll click Cancel here, and that's how you can actually create and also manage your own customized libraries inside of Illustrator.
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