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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.
We've already established that in Illustrator I can create SWATCHES that allow me to easily apply color to my document. However, if we want to be able to manage that color, the swatches really don't help us out. In other words, right now in this document called global.ai, I have several flowers, they're colored green and blue, but the centers of these are all filled with yellow. And they were filled with yellow using this swatch right over here. Now if I decide that I want to change the shade of that yellow, maybe I want to add a little bit of black into it or maybe I want to add a little bit magenta into it to kind of make it little bit more closer to orange.
So if I now go ahead and I double-click on the swatch itself, and I add in some magenta, let me do something drastic here, and maybe make it 50% Magenta, and then I'll click OK. Notice that right now my swatch has turned orange, and if I double-click, I can see that it has a value here of orange, even though, by the way, the name is still Yellow. But if you look at my document itself, the document currently has that yellow color that was originally applied. So in essence, what I've kind of done here is I've created this phantom color in my document, because I changed the swatch, there's no longer a swatch for this color, but this color does exist inside of my document right now.
So let's say I decide that I want to make a change to that yellow, I want that yellow to be a little bit different, I want it to become that orange. So what I would need to do is first change my swatch, now I'd need to select all my colors, so I'd click on maybe one of these. And then I would choose from this little setting right here in my Control panel, to select all objects that have the same fill color, and now all those yellow objects will become selected. And then I can reapply that swatch and make it orange, but that's a lot of extra steps, it's totally unnecessary. So I'm going to press Undo, I want to go back to my shapes before I change a color, and I'm actually going to press undo another time, come back maybe two or three times right now, so my swatch is now back to its original yellow color.
Let's reapply some of the colors now inside of this document. I'm going to double-click on the Yellow Swatch right now and notice over here that the slider for Yellow is set to 100, but if I go over here to the top, there's a setting here called Global. This little check box over here which right now is not checked, Illustrator does not create global swatches by default; it creates what we call regular process swatches. But if I check this box right over here, what I'm telling Illustrator to do is to create something called a global process swatch. What a global process swatch basically is, is something called a managed color.
In other words, it's going to be a way for me to have some kind of established relationship between my swatch and the artwork that was colored with that swatch. So let's see exactly what that means. With the Global check box turned on, I'm going to click OK, and the first thing to notice over here is if you look in my Swatches panel, the Yellow swatch has a little white triangle in the lower right-hand corner of it. Whenever you see a swatch inside of Illustrator that has that white triangle as a part of the swatch itself; that means that that swatch is a global process swatch, not just a regular swatch.
And now what I'm going to do is I'm going to take this yellow circle, I'm going to choose now select the same Fill Color, so now all my yellow circles become selected, and I'm now going to color them with this yellow global process swatch. Now one thing to note, by the way, whenever you have objects that are filled with a global swatch, you no longer have the CMYK sliders for that swatch, but you actually have a Tint slider, meaning, I can specify a Tint value of that color. This can actually be very, very helpful when you want to use varying tints or percentages of mixed colors.
But I'm going to deselect my artwork right now. All we've done so far is we've taken our colors, or in this case, we've taken our objects in my document and we've applied a global process color to that. Now let's see what happens when I want to modify that swatch. Let's say we decide right now that the yellow is too bright, we want to add some magenta to it. So I'm going to come over here to my SWATCHES panel, I'm not going to select any artwork in my document. In fact, just to make this a little bit easier to see, I'm going to move my document a little bit over here to the left, because now when I double-click on the swatch, the dialog box will come up over here and I'm going to move it over to the side and I'm going to check the Preview check box.
That's going to allow me to now see how this color is going to be changed in the document before I even commit to that color inside of my swatch. Now we know that this swatch right now is using a value of 100% Yellow and I want to add some magenta. Because this is a global process swatch, and because there's now a relationship between the swatch and the artwork in my document that was colored with that swatch, as I make a change to the Magenta, for example, I change its value to 50% and I'll hit the Tab key to accept that and move to the next field, watch what happens to the yellow circles in my document.
They now actually change even though they're not selected. That's because I'm actually making a change to the swatch, and making a change to the swatch, because it's global, also changes all artwork in my document that uses that color. So again, this is a way for me to now work in more of a managed workflow where I can make changes to one location, meaning my swatch, and anywhere where that color is used inside of my artwork, it simply updates in place. So if I click OK now to accept this, and, by the way, I'm going to change the name of the swatch to Orange, because Yellow doesn't make sense any more, and I click OK.
Now what I've done is I've changed my swatch, but all artwork in my document also changes along with that swatch. The only reason why that happens is because I created a global color. It's important to realize that the color itself in my document will update, no matter where or how that color is being used. For example, if I have that color used in strokes and in fills, they'll update in both of those places at once. If I had that color used inside of a Gradient or inside of a Pattern, inside of a Symbol, for example, just modifying my swatch, because it's global, also updates the colors anywhere else inside of my document.
Now this sounds actually pretty cool, because it allows you to make changes to your color very easily. So why does Illustrator have this concept of regular process swatches at all? Why aren't all my swatches global? In fact, if you look at other Adobe applications, for example, Adobe InDesign, swatches by default are always global inside of InDesign. However, in Illustrator, this is an additional option that we have to kind of choose in order to get this behavior. So why do we have process swatches and global process swatches? The answer is sometimes you actually want colors to only be changed in one location, not across your entire document.
For example, if I'm kind of working with three or four different concepts inside of a single document, I may want to make changes to one of those concepts without affecting any others. If I'm using global colors, making a change to one of those areas could change everything across my document. So depending on the need of what you're working with, you may want to have regular swatches, or you may want to have global swatches. In general, my advice is that if you're kind of in an experimentation phase, you're just kind of working inside of a piece of artwork and you're trying to derive some inspiration and kind of messing around with things, working with regular process swatches is probably the way to go.
That way you can easily make changes and not worry about colors updating throughout your entire document. However, if you already have an established palette of colors, maybe, for example, corporate colors, or you've already chosen certain colors to use on this project, then working with the global process colors probably makes more sense, because then if you need to make changes later on in your workflow, you can do so consistently across your entire document. So now we know that we have this concept of something called process swatches and global process swatches. There's actually one kind of swatch inside of Illustrator and that's something which we'll cover in the next movie working with spot color swatches.
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