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When you create a new document inside of Illustrator, you could choose to use either the CMYK or the RGB color space. Now, Illustrator sometimes makes the decision on its own based on the kind of profile that you use. For example, if I choose to create a print document, Illustrator automatically knows to set that document's color mode to CMYK. However, when you choose to create a web document, for example, you can see that it's set to RGB. In fact since Illustrator 9 came out, you are only able to specify a single color mode for any document. So for example, just like in Photoshop where you can choose Image and then Color Mode and change your mode to RGB and CMYK, the same thing applies to Illustrator. You can create RGB and CMYK content in the same file.
Knowing that however, you do need to be aware of a few things. For example, I'm actually going to create a Web document. That means I'm currently going to be with my color mode set to RGB. I'll click OK and I can always see that by the way by looking over here in the Tab of my document. It currently says I'm set to RGB. The reality though is that anytime that I'm working inside of my document, if I want to change that document color mode to be CMYK, I can do so by going to the File menu, choosing Document Color Mode and switching it to CMYK. Any artwork that's already in my file automatically goes through a conversion.
But it's important to note something about Illustrator. I'm actually going to go ahead and close my document here for a second. I'm going to open up my panels here. You could see that right now I have no document opened inside of Illustrator and I'll see there is no content in my Swatches or anywhere else in my panels for that matter. It's all kind of grayed out. However, when I create a Web document and I click OK, you can now see that suddenly my Swatches panel, my Color panel, all come alive with all these colors. Where did all those colors come from? The answer is that those colors came from the Web, New Document profile. We know that if I go over here to the Help menu, I could choose to go to my Welcome Screen. I can see that where it says Create New, I have Print Document, Web Document. These are all new document profiles that live on my hard-drive.
Whenever I click on a new document, Illustrator makes a copy of that document and opens it up as if it were a fresh new document. Hence, any content that was in that document now becomes part of the content of this file. So let me close this for now, and go back to the Web document that we created. It's important to realize that if I double-click on any of these swatches to see what their settings are, for example this one over here, it's currently set to RGB value. Now, obviously I'm working in RGB document, all the colors here are all RGB in nature. But let's say I go ahead and I actually draw a shape on my artboard and I fill it with that red color. Notice that it also has a stroke of black. Let me increase the stroke width just a little bit here, so we can pay more attention to it. Maybe now I realize as I'm kind of working in this document that, Uh! You know what? I actually need to print this and I want to convert this to the CMYK color space.
So I'll go to the File menu, I'll choose Document Color Mode and then I'll choose CMYK color. Now you can see that the color shifted a little bit. I have now gone through a conversion. My document itself is now CMYK. In fact, if I change the sliders in my Color panel here to be CMYK sliders, I can see that my fill over here was converted to 100 Yellow and 98.83 Magenta. That's because when I go to this RGB to CMYK conversion, I don't get exact numbers all the time. In fact, if you look at the black here, the black became -- known as what we refer to as a rich black. But even this is more rich than regular black because it contains odd values of all the different plates.
A print you would not be very happy when they saw a color that gets broken down in this particular way. It's just more difficult to control on press. But this is obviously easy enough for you to fix on your artboard. You can click on your object right over here. I'll go ahead and select this object here, and I'll go ahead and click on the Black Swatch here to fill this now 100% just using the K plate. Now, I'll switch to the Red and maybe I'll dial in a value of 100 and 100. That way, now I know I have that particular red color. But watch what happens now, I'm going to create a new shape on my artboard? That new shape right now, if I go ahead and I select it and I click on this Red Swatch because I want to apply a red color to it, goes back to that value. In fact if I go ahead now and I switch this to my swatch color, and I actually go ahead and I apply the Black Swatch, take a look at this. My black now returns to that black setting that was there before.
That happens for a very important reason. Inside of Illustrator, when I choose a color model, the thing that restricted that color model is simply my document itself. However, anything that appears inside of panels can actually be a mixture of both CMYK or RGB. So when I started out my document, I had an RGB document and because my document was created from the Web profile, it actually loaded a whole bunch of RGB Swatches inside of my Swatches panel. Simply by changing my document color mode to CMYK, only changed the artwork that was now on my artboard itself. But the swatches are still all RGB based. That means that every single time that I now apply a new color from the Swatches panel, I'm going through that RGB to CMYK conversion.
So really the best work-flow to ever kind of go through when you are trying to work or convert artwork from RGB to CMYK is to actually take your document that's currently using RGB, select the artwork that you want, copy it, and then paste it into a new CMYK document. That way, all the swatches that are in that CMYK document will all be CMYK. Then once you correct all your values the first time, you will never have to worry about those values going back again. In fact, this whole exercise brings out a really important point. You may find yourself during the day-- of course we are all very busy during the day. We have lots of files opened on our screen. Where I open up a particular document and I go ahead and I apply a color and I see that the color gets broken down into all these percentages.
Take a quick look and make sure that your document is actually set to CMYK, because if you are seeing these kinds of values, there is a good chance that your document itself is still RGB or your document is started out as an RGB document and sometime later was converted to CMYK. In those cases again, the best thing you can do is simply select all of your artwork, you could choose to paste remember layers option, so that all your layers are maintained and then paste that artwork into a new CMYK document.
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