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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
When you create a new Illustrator document from a New Document profile, for example, print or Web, a quick glance at the Swatches panel will show you some Preset swatches. This is really meant as a springboard, or a way for you to quickly start creating graphics inside of Illustrator. However, for any design project that you're working on, you'll want to create your own colors. Now, of course, Illustrator also has a Color panel, and I can apply colors very quickly this way by selecting any artwork, making sure here that my Fill is currently in focus, and if I move my cursor over this rainbow that appears right here, or what we call the CMYK Spectrum, my icon changes to an Eyedropper tool.
I can click and then drag, and as I do so, I'm sampling colors from this rainbow, and when I release the mouse that color gets filled onto my object. Right now, I'm in the CMYK document, but had I created a Web document, which uses RGB colors, instead of seeing CMYK sliders right here, I would see RGB sliders. Additionally, I can move each of these sliders if I want to, or I could put my cursor here inside of these value boxes and type in numeric values specifically.
For example, if I wanted a color that was made up of 30% Cyan and 20% Magenta, I can type in 30, hit the Tab key to advance to the next field, type in 20, and then I'll hit Tab, 0 and then Tab, 0, and now I've gotten this color. You can change between different Color sliders by coming up over here to the flyout menu and choosing Grayscale, RGB, HSV, CMYK or Web Safe RGB Colors if you want to ensure that the colors that we're using will display correctly on older monitors on the Web.
A shortcut to switch between those different options is to Shift+Click on the spectrum right here. Each time that you Shift+Click, it toggles between the different color modes within the Color panel. But say I really like this color. I want to save it as a swatch so I can easily apply it to many objects throughout my workflow. Well, I can do one of two things. I can either grab just this icon right here, and drag it into the Swatches panel, or because I now have this color selected in the Color panel, I can come down to the Swatches panel and click on this button to create a new swatch.
I actually prefer this method because it brings up the New Swatch dialog box, which lets me assign a name to this swatch. By default, Illustrator will name each swatch by its color values. This way you don't get Swatch 1, Swatch 2, Swatch 3 that have no meaning, but instead, a quick glance at the name of the swatch lets you know what color it is. You can always apply your own name as well. When you create a swatch that's made up of a variety of different values of CMYK or RGB, we refer to that color as a Process Color.
A Process Color simply means that it is made up of a mixture of primary colors. So when I click OK, I now see that that swatch has been added into my Swatches panel. At anytime, I could simply click on this New Swatch button, and I could adjust the sliders right here to create my own custom color values as well. So if I wanted to create some kind of a yellow color, I could click OK and now create a swatch that way. But here's the thing about working with Process swatches.
It's a quick way for me to be able to apply color to a document. However, I don't really have an easy way to manage that color. Let me explain what I mean. I'm now going to select these three objects on my artboard, and I'm going to click on this icon, which I just created now, this new swatch, which is filled with 20% yellow. I'm now going to deselect the artwork and after looking at this, I may decide that the color is not bright enough for me, and I want to add more of a stronger yellow to this.
Well, I use the swatch to apply color to these objects, so I might come back to the Swatches panel and double- click on that swatch to make a change. I might want to change it now from 20% yellow to 60% yellow. I'll click OK, and you'll notice that the swatch did indeed change. However, the objects on the artboard board still remain the older version of that yellow. That's because the swatch basically allows me to apply color, but once I've applied that color, the swatch has no longer any connection to that object.
It's almost as if right now you had a can of paint in front of you, and that can of paint was filled with a very pale yellow color. You take a paint brush, and you start painting your wall with his nice, soft shade of yellow. After you finish painting your entire wall, you take a step back, and you go hmm, I really wish that wall was a brighter color of yellow. So you go back to your can of paint, which is sitting on the floor and you add some more paint to it to make it a much more brighter yellow. However, just because you've changed the color inside of the paint can, it doesn't instantly make the entire wall change color as well.
What you will need to do is, once again, repaint the wall using the new paint, which is the same as I would do here inside of Illustrator. I'll have to select all these elements and then click on the Swatch to make that change. But note that I had to do two things: I had to first change to swatch itself. Then I had to re-apply that swatch to all the other objects. Well there's another kind of swatch, which I can create inside of Illustrator, something called a Global Process Swatch, which allows me to maintain some kind of a connection between the objects and the swatch itself.
You might almost think of it as a Smart Swatch. Let's see how that works inside of Illustrator. Well I'm going to deselect my art. Right now, I have this bright yellow color. I'm now going to double-click on the swatch because I realize that maybe I want to have a little bit of a green tint to this color. So I want to add a little bit of Cyan to this color as well. Remember, if I now go ahead to make a change to swatch, the swatch might get updated, but the objects in my document won't get updated. So what I'm going to do first with this swatch is once I open it up, I'm now going to come here where it says Color Type and where it says Process Color and check this box called Global.
This now turns this swatch into what we call a Global Process Swatch. Now when I click OK, a quick glance at the swatch itself shows that it has a little white triangle in the bottom right-hand corner of the swatch itself. This indicates that right now this swatch is not a Regular Process Swatch. It's a Global Process Swatch. I'm now going to select all the artwork here and paint that artwork using this Global Process Swatch. So the technique that I've just done right now is the same as I've done before.
I selected some artwork, and I applied some color to it with a swatch. The only difference though is that right now this swatch is not a Regular Process Swatch; it's a Global Process Swatch. So now I'm going to deselect my artwork. I'm just click on a blank area on my artboard and even though that I have no artwork selected right now, I can very easily make a change to these colors. I'm going to come back to the Swatches panel, and I'm going to double-click on the swatch because, like I said before, I want to add a little bit of Cyan to this color so that it looks somewhat more green.
So I'm now going to change the Cyan slider here, or simply just come over here and type in about 20%, and now I'm going to click OK. Notice that when I do so, not only does the swatch update, but all the artwork on my artboard also updates, even though they weren't selected. That's because when I use a Global Process Swatch, there is this link between the swatch itself and any other attributes that I've used for that swatch. In this case, I was able to update all the fills of my objects.
Of course, if I would been using that same exact color with other objects in my document or Fills or Strokes, for example, all those elements would also get updated as well. So we see that there are really two kinds of swatches that I can create inside of Illustrator, a Process Swatch which lets me apply colors one at a time, or a Global Process Swatch which does the same thing, but also allows me to make changes globally across an entire document just by modifying the swatch. Now when would I want to use one over the other? While I'm just experimenting, or trying out many different colors, I probably don't want to use Global Process Swatches.
That's because when I update my swatch, I may inadvertently make changes to things across my entire document. However, if I'm working with corporate colors, colors that I know I'm using throughout my entire document, and I know that when I want to make a change to that color, I want that color to update across my entire document, that's a great time to start using Global Process Color.
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