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Discovering RGB and CMYK "gotchas"

From: Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics

Video: Discovering RGB and CMYK "gotchas"

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.

Discovering RGB and CMYK "gotchas"

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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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics
Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics

137 video lessons · 29060 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 41s
    2. Using the exercise files
      23s
  2. 33m 20s
    1. Introducing Live Paint
      38s
    2. Drawing in Illustrator
      4m 21s
    3. Creating a Live Paint group
      2m 54s
    4. Using the Live Paint Bucket tool
      3m 17s
    5. Using Live Paint with open paths
      2m 29s
    6. Detecting gaps in Live Paint groups
      4m 17s
    7. Adding paths to a Live Paint group
      3m 41s
    8. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      5m 44s
    9. Releasing and expanding Live Paint groups
      2m 55s
    10. Understanding how Live Paint groups work
      3m 4s
  3. 49m 36s
    1. Introducing the trace options
      39s
    2. Setting expectations: Live Trace
      2m 26s
    3. Using the Live Trace feature
      1m 51s
    4. Understanding how Live Trace works
      5m 41s
    5. Making raster-based adjustments
      5m 52s
    6. Tracing with fills, strokes, or both
      2m 55s
    7. Making vector-based adjustments
      6m 12s
    8. Adjusting colors in Live Trace
      4m 39s
    9. Using Photoshop with Live Trace
      5m 22s
    10. Releasing and expanding Live Trace artwork
      2m 58s
    11. Saving and exporting Live Trace presets
      2m 36s
    12. Tracing in Batch mode with Adobe Bridge
      1m 35s
    13. Turning an image into mosaic tiles
      2m 28s
    14. Tracing an image manually
      4m 22s
  4. 1h 24m
    1. Introducing 3D
      33s
    2. Setting expectations: 3D in Illustrator
      2m 53s
    3. How fills and strokes affect 3D artwork
      4m 43s
    4. Applying the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect
      6m 25s
    5. Applying a bevel
      5m 40s
    6. Showing the hidden faces of a 3D object
      4m 49s
    7. Applying the 3D Revolve effect
      5m 22s
    8. Visualizing the revolve axis
      3m 5s
    9. Applying the 3D Rotate effect
      1m 35s
    10. Adjusting surface settings
      9m 33s
    11. Understanding the importance of 3D and groups
      3m 24s
    12. Preparing art for mapping
      10m 19s
    13. Mapping artwork to a 3D surface
      14m 21s
    14. Hiding geometry with 3D artwork mapping
      4m 0s
    15. Extending the use of 3D in Illustrator
      8m 7s
  5. 44m 37s
    1. Introducing transformations and effects
      32s
    2. Using the Transform panel
      12m 37s
    3. Repeating transformations
      5m 23s
    4. Using the Transform Each function
      3m 48s
    5. Using the Convert to Shape effects
      5m 49s
    6. Using the Distort & Transform effects
      5m 12s
    7. Using the Path effects
      6m 58s
    8. Using the Pathfinder effects
      4m 18s
  6. 28m 23s
    1. Introducing graphic styles
      33s
    2. Applying graphic styles
      10m 8s
    3. Defining graphic styles
      8m 46s
    4. Previewing graphic styles
      2m 10s
    5. Modifying graphic styles
      3m 30s
    6. Understanding graphic styles for text
      3m 16s
  7. 22m 49s
    1. Introducing advanced masking techniques
      32s
    2. Understanding clipping masks
      7m 15s
    3. Using layer clipping masks
      6m 30s
    4. Creating opacity masks
      8m 32s
  8. 1h 6m
    1. Introducing color
      40s
    2. Considering three types of color swatches
      7m 7s
    3. Managing color groups
      2m 58s
    4. Understanding the HSB color wheel
      3m 57s
    5. Understanding color harmonies
      2m 57s
    6. Using the color guide
      3m 54s
    7. Limiting the color guide
      3m 17s
    8. Modifying color with the Recolor Artwork feature
      6m 25s
    9. Using the Edit tab to adjust color
      5m 44s
    10. Using the Assign tab to replace colors
      8m 37s
    11. Making global color adjustments
      2m 17s
    12. Using Recolor options
      7m 3s
    13. Converting artwork to grayscale
      3m 23s
    14. Simulating artwork on different devices
      3m 18s
    15. Accessing Kuler directly from Illustrator
      2m 7s
    16. Ensuring high contrast for color-blind people
      2m 42s
  9. 53m 19s
    1. Introducing transparency
      40s
    2. Understanding transparency flattening
      2m 31s
    3. Exercising the two rules of transparency flattening
      10m 53s
    4. Understanding complex regions in transparency flattening
      4m 50s
    5. Exploring the transparency flattener settings
      8m 37s
    6. Using transparency flattening and object stacking order
      6m 39s
    7. Using the Flattener Preview panel
      6m 31s
    8. Creating and sharing Transparency Flattener presets
      2m 25s
    9. Working within an EPS workflow
      5m 3s
    10. Understanding the Illustrator and InDesign workflow
      5m 10s
  10. 50m 1s
    1. Introducing prepress and output
      23s
    2. Understanding resolutions
      8m 27s
    3. Discovering RGB and CMYK "gotchas"
      5m 42s
    4. Using Overprints and Overprint Preview
      7m 43s
    5. Understanding "book color" and proofing spot colors
      8m 1s
    6. Collecting vital information with Document Info
      2m 28s
    7. Previewing color separations onscreen
      1m 12s
    8. Making 3D artwork look good
      2m 16s
    9. Seeing white lines and knowing what to do about them
      2m 41s
    10. Creating "bulletproof" press-ready PDF files
      3m 45s
    11. Protecting content with secure PDFs
      2m 48s
    12. Using PDF presets
      2m 47s
    13. Moving forward: The Adobe PDF Print Engine
      1m 48s
  11. 35m 43s
    1. Introducing distortions
      27s
    2. Using the Warp effect
      4m 20s
    3. The Warp effect vs. envelope distortion
      3m 48s
    4. Applying the Make with Warp envelope distortion
      2m 45s
    5. Applying the Make with Mesh envelope distortion
      2m 41s
    6. Applying the Make with Top Object envelope distortion
      3m 45s
    7. Editing envelopes
      5m 0s
    8. Adjusting envelope settings
      4m 2s
    9. Releasing and expanding envelope distortions
      1m 44s
    10. Applying envelope distortions to text
      1m 27s
    11. Using the liquify distortion tools
      3m 5s
    12. Customizing the liquify tools
      2m 39s
  12. 28m 56s
    1. Introducing blends
      32s
    2. Blending two objects
      6m 18s
    3. Adjusting blend options
      5m 47s
    4. Blending anchor points
      5m 36s
    5. Blending three or more objects
      2m 9s
    6. Replacing the spine of a blend
      4m 32s
    7. Reversing the direction of a blend
      2m 15s
    8. Releasing and expanding a blend
      1m 47s
  13. 46m 54s
    1. Introducing charts and graphs
      35s
    2. Setting expectations: Graphs in Illustrator
      3m 19s
    3. Creating a chart
      8m 2s
    4. Importing data
      3m 34s
    5. Formatting data
      5m 1s
    6. Customizing a chart
      10m 21s
    7. Combining chart types
      2m 40s
    8. Creating graph designs
      6m 0s
    9. Styling and updating graphs
      5m 33s
    10. Ungrouping graphs
      1m 49s
  14. 26m 36s
    1. Introducing Gradient Mesh
      23s
    2. Understanding the Gradient Mesh feature
      9m 34s
    3. Using Gradient Mesh to add contoured shading
      6m 14s
    4. Using Gradient Mesh to create photorealistic effects
      10m 25s
  15. 8m 18s
    1. Introducing flare effects
      25s
    2. Drawing a lens flare
      3m 28s
    3. Modifying a lens flare
      1m 27s
    4. Using a mask with lens flares
      2m 58s
  16. 29s
    1. Goodbye
      29s

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