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So we know that in Illustrator I can use the Recolor Artwork feature to change colors that appear inside of any selected artwork. Just to go through the basic steps on how to do that, once I've a file open I can make a selection on any artwork. I could then click on the color wheel here to open up the Recolor Artwork dialog box, and I can start to use different color rows here to adjust the colors that appear inside of my document, and how those colors were now changed into something new that I've defined. We also know that by default since Illustrator doesn't know yet which colors we want to change, all colors that appear inside of my artwork are simply re-mapped back to themselves.
However, we've also seen that while some colors do get mapped back to themselves some appear not to; mainly in this case black and white. Let's understand exactly why this happens inside of Illustrator and more importantly, let's understand how to control it so that we can make it do the things that we needed to do for our particular task. Most designers don't think of black and white as colors. In fact, if you're a graphic designer and you're used to printing on paper or even through a computer screen, like you're a web designer, for example, the color white has kind of a different meaning to you.
White usually means almost the same thing as none; meaning it's the color of the actual paper. So, for example, here, if I look at this piece of artwork and I have this flower that's white, I'm not actually coloring it white, I just intend that to be whatever color my background paper is, since right now the page itself is white. I have that filled out white but I really kind of mean it almost to be in the same thing as none. Likewise, black very often is used in a design for specific things like either text or key lines, outlines, shading, for example.
In fact, one of the reasons why black is actually referred to as K in CMYK is because it's called the Key color, and in fact, many designers don't think of the word black as color at all. So if I want to make a whole bunch of changes to my artwork, and I want to kind of start messing around with colors, I probably want whatever is white to stay white and I probably want whatever is black to stay black. I just want to change the colors that appear throughout the rest of my design. That may not be the case if you're an apparel designer, for example.
You maybe screen-printing artwork on to a T-shirt and maybe that T-shirt has some kind of a gray background or maybe some other kind of color material, and you now want to have artwork appear printed on top of that material. If you want a color white you actually have to print the color white. To you as an apparel designer white isn't simply none or the background color, white actually is white, it's a separate color and you need to print in that color. The same thing applies to black.
If you're an apparel designer then every color that you're using has significance. Now of course, it all depends on the kind of design that you're doing and more importantly how you're eventually going to process that piece of artwork. By default, Illustrator kind of takes the lowest common denominator. It assumes that as a designer you probably want Black to remain and you probably also want white to remain, and that's why these two colors here do not switch at their default settings. But let's take a look at how to control this now inside of the Recolor Artwork dialog box.
There is a little teeny button over here which allows us to open up a separate dialog box called Color Reduction Options. And if I click on it, I'll see that at the bottom here there is an option here for Preserve and right now Illustrator has White and Black checked, and Grays are unchecked. What this check box means is right now Illustrator is going to preserve the color white and it's also going to preserve the color black in my artwork; meaning those colors will not be included when I go ahead and I recolor my artwork.
I like to refer to this as protecting those colors. In Illustrator Black, White and Gray colors can automatically be protected. However, let's say again, you're some kind of a designer, maybe an apparel designer and you don't want to protect white or black. If there is white in your design you may want to change that to a different ink color, so what I'm going to here in this case is I'm going to uncheck White and I'm going to uncheck Black as well, and when I click OK, you'll notice that right now black and white do get re-mapped to a color here.
But right now they both appear as two colors within one color row, which means that white now is actually going to get re-mapped to black. I don't want that to happen, so I'll click on White right here and I actually click on this button here to create a new color row. Now I could take the white and drag it to its own color row. Another way to unprotect a color is actually to simply click over here on the arrow and then double-click to define what color I want that colors to become. So it ask me, if I want to add a new color and I'll say Yes, and notice now that becomes white.
So before where I was actually changing only five out of the seven colors that appear inside of that piece of artwork, I'm now actually going to be changing all seven colors that appear inside of that artwork. Because, now black and white are no longer protected, and remember inside of this dialog box here I could also choose to protect grays if I want to, and that becomes useful if you're working with artwork that has different values of grays that you're using for shading. In other words, you may want to change the colors inside of that artwork but you wanted the shading to remain the same.
So in that case you would want to protect gray. So just keep in mind when you're working inside of Illustrator, that by default Illustrator is going to try to protect black and white, while that may be useful for most kinds of design projects inside of Illustrator, that's certainly not the case for all of them, and that's why these options exist. I'll click OK to go back to the Recolor Artwork dialog box and it's important to remember that at all times you as a designer have full control over all the colors inside of your artwork. Sometimes however, these little preferences can make it difficult to achieve the effect that you're looking to apply, but hopefully now you'll have the knowledge to avoid running into any problems.
In fact, the Recolor Artwork dialog box is filled with all these little goodies. In the next two videos, we'll actually cover two of them that I think you'll find extremely useful.
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