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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.
As a designer, you're faced with many different challenges. One of those, of course, is choosing the right color to use. To some people, it comes naturally. However, many designers struggle with figuring out what colors work well with each other. Well, Illustrator has a special panel, something called the Color Guide, which can help. I'm going to open up the Color Guide right here. In fact, I'm going to drag it out on to the page so we can take a closer look at it. The whole idea of the Color Guide is that Illustrator can suggest colors to you that work with other colors.
For example, each time that I click on a swatch inside of my Swatches panel, the Color Guide will update offering suggestions with other colors that might work with the color that I'm selecting. There are many ways to figure out how colors work with other colors. For example, sometimes you want colors to look very close in shade to each other, while other times you might want to create completely contrasting colors, or you may want vibrant or muted versions of the colors as well. Well, let's explore all the settings in the Color Guide because really it's all here.
You'll notice that when I click on any icon in the Swatches panel that color becomes the base color inside of the Color Guide. I then have this little pop-up over here, something called Harmony Rules. Illustrator refers to something called a Harmony as a way to define a relationship between colors. If I click on this arrow here, I can choose between a variety of different color harmonies that will determine how the Color Guide recommends colors. For example, if I choose Monochromatic colors then each time that I choose a color is going to offer variations of colors that are similar according to this harmony.
However, I can choose a completely different harmony, for example, Complementary colors, which are opposites of each other, and now as I click on a color, I can view all those variations as well. So, my first step in using the Color Guide is really choosing what kind of Harmony I want to use to determine suggested colors. So that we better understand exactly what the Color Guide is showing me, I'm going to choose this first option here called Complementary colors.
If we look at a color wheel a Complementary color would be defined as a color that appears in the exact opposite side of the color wheel. So, for example, if I click on yellow I see that this purple color is its complement. So that we can clearly understand what the Color Guide is doing, I'm going to come to the flyout menu of the Color Guide. I'm going to choose an option here called Color Guide Options. Notice, over here, it says Steps 4. I'm going to reduce that down to its minimum, which is 3. I'm now going to click OK.
Let's take a look at exactly what the Color Guide is showing me. I've set my base color as yellow, which I've done by clicking on this little swatch right here. Because I've chosen a Harmony of Complementary colors I see my original color right here, and I see its complement right here. Illustrator then takes these two colors and puts them right here down the center of the panel. So, this yellow part is here. This purple part is here. Illustrator then generates three different shades and three different tints of each of those two colors.
It's generating 3 steps because I just changed that value to 3 Color Guide Options a moment ago. So, for example, if I really would like to have more options or more shades or tints of colors, I can come back to that flyout menu, where it says Color Guide Options, change that to much higher value. I can even go as high as 20, click OK and now I see far more variations of my color. I can make my Color Guide panel much wider so that I can see those colors more clearly.
If I want to use these colors, I can click on them to select them, and I'll hold down my Command key or Ctrl key to select a few of them, and I can now click on this button right here to save these as a New Color Group. So the Color Guide is really a great way for me to start with some very basic colors, but to quickly generate many different variations of those colors and use them in my design.
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