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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 Illustrator's 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.
If you take a look at the Swatches panel inside of Illustrator, you'll see that there are some swatches that kind of roam freely here, but there are some swatches that appear very neatly inside of these folders. These folders are actually referred to as Color Groups or Swatch Groups, and they can be very helpful in organizing color within your document. Creating a Color Group is very easy. Right now, I have no artwork selected in my artboard, so I can come right down here to the bottom of the Swatches panel and click on this folder icon with the Plus sign, which allows me to create a new color group.
When I do so, I'm going to give it a name. Let's say I call this one flowers, and now I'll click OK, and I have a blank folder or an empty group inside of my Swatches panel. To add colors to this Color Group, I can simply take any existing swatch, let's say this one right here, and drag it right on top of the Folder icon. That adds the color into the group. I can add as many as I want to by just dragging them in, and if I want to remove a color from a Color Group, I simply click and drag the swatch out of the group.
One of the really nice things about Color Groups though is how they help you manage color even after you have added those colors to your document. For example, I have three colors here used on these flowers in this document, but I didn't really take the time to define swatches for that, or maybe I opened up this file, which I received from another designer, and they didn't go through the process of defining swatches for it, but I'd really like to use these colors quite often so I want to turn them into swatches. So, what I can do is select these three elements right here on the artboard, and now that I've artwork selected I can click on that same Folder icon right here in the Swatches panel, to create a new Color Group.
But this time, the dialog box that appears has some additional options. Since I have some artwork selected, I can tell Illustrator to create colors from my selected artwork. At the same time, I could also convert Process Colors to Global Colors. I'll call this one flowers too, and now I'm going to click OK, and you can see that I've now created four Global Process colors. True, I only see three fill colors right here, but Illustrator also created a swatch for the black that's used on the strokes of these objects.
Another benefit of using Color Groups is how the colors actually appear inside of the Swatches panel. Notice that over here these colors all run into each other so it's very hard for me to keep them organized. However, it's very easy to organize colors because each group takes up its own row. If a group has more colors, it simply takes up two or three rows, whatever it needs. The truth is is that if you take the time to define these color groups, you're helping Illustrator better understand how you're using those colors.
For example, if certain colors are grouped together within a single group, there must be some kind of relationship between those colors. For example, apparel designers may create something called a Colorway. A single Colorway may contain many other colors inside it. For example, a fabric may be created by using different colored threads inside of it. So, there are a lots of good reasons to take some time to create Color Groups inside of Illustrator. It not only makes things easier for you to understand when working, it also makes it easier for other designers when you hand your work off to them.
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