Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
As a designer, having to change colors constantly is simply part of the job, and that can be also a very difficult process in complex illustrations, especially when there are many different colors used in a variety of places. Things like gradient stops inside of symbols or patterns. Having to go in and select those areas or those objects, even those parts of different swatches or colors can be very, very difficult. Now, we've already discussed the different types of swatches that you can have inside of Illustrator. And we know that using things like global process swatches do help us make changes to a document more easily than with regular process swatches.
But designers are often called upon make to complex edits. For example, on a document like this called floral_design _2, I may have a variety of different colors that are being used, and I may need to convert that entire piece of artwork through using just one color. So it's not just changing a blue to a purple, or something like that, sometimes modifying color can include working with tints and shades of color as well. So that's where this feature called Recolor Artwork comes into play. No matter how colors apply to your document itself, the Recolor Artwork feature allows you to modify those colors, even if you don't even have any swatches defined for those colors.
So, let's take a look at that feature. First I'm actually going to open up here my panel, and I want to show you that in my Swatches panel I already have several groups of colors that I have defined. I have actually pull all of these from the Preset Libraries that Illustrator ships with. If I go down over here to Nature and to Flowers, so you'll notice that I have things like Poppy, Iris, Birds of paradise, so on and so forth. So I have these swatches that already exist inside of groups. And this is actually important to note. When I'm working with the Recolor Artwork feature inside of Illustrator, colors that appear within groups are more easily accessible as we are soon going to see.
Now the first important thing to note about the Recolor Artwork feature is that it works on selected artwork. So that means that you actually have to make a selection. The good thing about this is that it allows you to make targeted changes to certain areas of your document. For example, if you want to change some colors on a foreground but not on a background, you can lock those background layers and then go ahead and choose the artwork that you want to change. The downside of course to this is that you do have to unlock your objects and select them if you want to work with them. Now many times we may have a document that has whole bunch of different locked layers, or locked objects. You would have to unlock them in order to use this feature. But I'll show you, by the way, that you don't have to worry about the selection process at all.
When you choose to select all your artwork later on we'll be able to define exactly which colors will change and which will not. So I have nothing to lock in my document right now, and I'm simply going to press Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all of my artwork. Now there are two basic ways to launch the Recolor Artwork feature. I can either go to the control panel, and then click on this icon right over here called Recolor Artwork, or I can go to the Edit menu, then I could choose Edit Colors, and then I could choose here Recolor Artwork. This opens up the Recolor Artwork dialog box, and in fact we'll just take a quick look at exactly what this dialog box offers and we'll see how to use it.
Now at first glance you'll also notice that there are two buttons at the top, one called the Assign, one called Edit. We've actually seen this Edit functionality before when working with editing the colors inside of a color group. We have the HSB color wheel, and we see that we have the ability to actually move these colors around if we want to. Now in reality, the Edit tab and the Assign tab are showing us the exact same information, but in two very different ways. Think about right now the Recolor Artwork button is simply showing to me the colors that I currently have in my active selection. If we go to the Edit tab first, I basically see my colors that are put on to a visual map. Think about Google Maps, I have those little pushpins that basically identify different areas on a map. So these circles are identifying the colors that exist in my selection right now. When I go to the Assign tab, I'm basically seeing things as if I were reading a phone book. I see a list of all my colors.
Now it's interesting to note that Illustrator list the colors in the order of their Hue. So for example, if I go back to the Edit tab here I can see that I have this color right here, then if I start to move around in this counter-clockwise direction, I can see that the colors over here are assigned very much in that same way. Now in reality when most people take a look at this Recolor Artwork feature, they jump to the Edit tab, they click on this little button over here to lock the relationship between the colors, and then if they want to go ahead and generate a variety of different ways of working with these colors, they could simply go ahead and create different variations of those colors in their document.
Another way that you can change the colors in your document is simply by choosing another color group. By clicking on any color group here on the right side of the dialog box, I can replace the colors that currently exist in my document with the ones that exists in a group. So for example, if I click on this one, Hydrangea, all my color is now changed to those colors. I click on these for example and others. So if I've created these groups of colors, again this is one of the benefits of working with groups, I could easily swap one group for another. Now there is one important thing to note about the Recolor Artwork dialog box. There is the no Undue button. So once I go ahead and apply some kind of change, I can't simply press Command+Z or Ctrl+ Z to undo that rest action. So if I go here for example and I change to this Hydrangea group, I have no way to press Undo to go back to the Iris group as I did before.
The one saving grace in the Recolor Artwork dialog box is this button right here. It basically resamples the artwork f rom your original artwork that you have selected and reloads those colors back on to the color wheel. So it's almost like a Reset button. So it's not an Undo, you can't go back one step backwards or a two step backwards, but you could definitely start refreshing in by clicking on this button. And now that basically returns my artwork to the original state that it was and maps those colors back on to the color wheel. Now we'll discuss this specific functionality of both the Edit and the Assign tabs in a different movie, but for now you want to close with one important aspect about the Recolor Artwork dialog box, and that's this checkbox here on the bottom called Recolor Art.
Now you'll notice as you go ahead and you'll spin the wheel over here for example to change or modify these colors, or if you change between different groups for example, you can see that the artwork on my artboard is now being changed. That's because the Recolor Art button is now checked. A lot of people just think that the Recolor Art button is like a Preview button, it's not. It's actually telling Illustrator that you want to recolor that artwork. Why is that important? Well, that's because you can use the colors mapped on to your wheel to actually generate new color groups without changing the artwork itself. For example, I come here and I'll reset the colors again, and maybe what I want to do is I want to click on this Lock button here, and I want to generate some new interesting colors using that kind of harmony.
But I want to come here and I want to save that as a new group, but if I were to click OK right now, I would now be overriding those colors and changing the colors of my selection. I may just want to start over those colors and then create a new group of modified colors. By unchecking the Recolor Art button, I'm leaving the colors of my document alone but using them to generate new color groups. Now that we understand some of the basic functionality of the Recolor Artwork dialog box, we can begin to learn about all the power that it bring to us as designers through both the Edit and the Assign tabs.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
117 Video lessons · 42991 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 54308 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 14547 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 82912 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.