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As a designer, we're always looking for some kind of inspiration to help drive our creativity. This is especially true around the area of color. For example, when you're starting to choose colors to use inside of your web designs. One of the nice features that exist inside of Illustrator is something called a Color Guide. The Color Guide is a panel that helps you choose colors that work well with each other. Well, what exactly does that mean? Well, as you can see in the top of the Color Guide here, there is a pop-up. If I click on it, it displays many different types of what we call color harmonies.
These are really just scientific or mathematical ways to define relationships between colors. So, for example, we have complementary colors. A color's complement, if we think of color mapped onto a wheel, the color that appears in the exact opposite side of the wheel is the color's complement. As you can see through this pop-up list here, Illustrator has 23 different possible harmonies that you can choose from to define how you want Illustrator to choose colors. Now, just to make things a little bit simple, because I want you to understand exactly what the Color Guide is doing, I'm going to leave it set right now to the Complementary color harmony.
I'm also going to go to the flyout menu of the Color Guide. I'm going to choose over here this option called Color Guide Options, which brings up the Variation Options dialog box. I'm going to reduce the number of steps to 3, which is the smallest amount. I'm also going to leave its Variation slider set to More. I'm going to click OK. Now, let's take a look at exactly what happens when we're using the Color Guide. I'm actually going to go now to my Swatches panel. I'm going to choose to say a different fill color. Right now, it's white. I'm going to click over here and choose different swatch color, maybe this orange color, for example.
Well, as you can see now the Color Guide updates with other colors. So here's exactly what happens. The color that I've just chosen inside of my Swatches panel is what we refer to as the base color. Illustrator takes that base color and identifies its complement because I've chosen the Complementary color harmony. The color guide then takes these two colors right now, this orange and this blue color, and puts them here in the center row underneath this triangle. So if you think about it, I'm taking these two squares and kind of turning them on their side.
So here is the orange and here is the blue. Illustrator then creates three different shades and three different tints for each of these two colors. This is because we've specified three steps in the options just a moment ago. Now the point here is that as I choose colors on my Swatches panel, the Color Guide is recommending or suggesting other variations of those colors that I might use that would work well with the color that I've chosen. Now if I choose a color harmony that has a far more number of colors, for example, let's do the Monochromatic version over here.
So now as I choose a color on my Swatches panel, the Color Guide is going to recommend various shades and tints of the colors that I'm now choosing the Swatches panel, all within this Monochromatic type of unit or what we call a harmony. This is actually a great feature to use when you start thinking about designing your web sites because you can choose a base color and then have all of these other colors suggested to you that you know will always work well with your designs. However, it's important to realize that the Color Guide is actually using the entire RGB spectrum to come up with these other suggestions of color.
For example, I may have a web safe color that I'm using here, but just because this color is a web safe color, it doesn't mean that all the suggestions that are being given to me through the Color Guide are also web safe colors. In other words, I may not be free to use those colors. So that's why one of the most important features inside of the Color Guide is clicking on this button right over here. Most people think this is just a library, but really what this button allows you to do is it allows you to limit the range of colors that the Color Guide is allowed to work with.
As I said before, right now the Color Guide is dreaming up over these colors from the overall RGB spectrum. However, if I scroll down here to Web, that means now that I'm limiting the Color Guide to only work within the web safe color palette, meaning that each time that I choose a color right here, even if the colors that I'm choosing are not web safe colors, all the colors that are being recommended to me are always going to be web safe colors, because I am limiting the Color Guide to only work within that range of colors. In fact, this exact feature can also be helpful for a variety of other tasks.
For example, say you already have a palette of approved colors from your client. Maybe to have their corporate colors, or they've already approved some kind of colors that were defined by another designer. Well, you can take that library and load that library into the Color Guide, allowing you to now be limiting what the Color Guide shows you from only those specific colors that are preapproved. Of course, for a general web design, limiting the Color Guide in this way, meaning only allowing it to use the colors in the web safe color palette lets you take full advantage of the Color Guide by giving you the inspiration that you need along with the colors that you can use.
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