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This installment of Illustrator Insider Training shows an expert's approach to color choice and control in Illustrator. Mordy Golding guides experienced designers and artists through what he sees are the three stages of applying color to artwork: creation, inspiration, and editing. The course also shows how to build art in a way that allows artists to make changes quickly and how to take advantage of the newer features that have been added to Illustrator over the recent versions.
There maybe times when working on a design where you have certain colors that have already been applied to your document and you want to kind of consolidate those colors, maybe you have too many colors being used right now and you want to combine them into one color. Let's take this file, for example. I have some text over here that's using one color, and then it has some text that appears beneath it using a different color and maybe I decide later on that you know what, I really don't want the text be two different colors, I want them to both be using the same color. Now I could go ahead and actually select the elements and then change their color, or in this example here I am using Global Colors.
That would mean that I can make a change more efficiently by modifying the swatches. Again, when you're using Global Colors inside of Illustrator you have more options available to you, because by changing the swatch, it automatically changes the artwork inside of the document. Now there are several ways to do this. First of all, I can see over here if I click on one of these shapes, I am going to use my Direct Selection tool here, and just click let's say on the L right over here, and I can see that right now the Swatches panel identifies this color right now as being used for that object.
So I know that I have that color right here, and if I click on let's say the K over here in the word Sakura, I see that this is the color that's currently being used. Now I want this darker color to be used for all of my text. So here is what I can do. I can actually just deselect all the artwork, I have nothing selected whatsoever, go to my Swatches panel and what I can do is I can take this swatch and click and drag it while holding down the Option key on my keyboard. Now, I am on a Mac. If you're on Windows, you'd be holding down the Alt key and then dragging it on top of the swatch that you want to modify.
So what I am doing is I am telling Illustrator, take this color right now and copy it onto this swatch or overwrite this swatch right now with the Option key. Notice now that with my Option key down I get kind of a dark black outline around that swatch. Now, when I release the mouse, you will see now that both the swatches have the same color definition. Now, since I've used the Global Swatch, the artwork on my artboard has now updated likewise. My only problem is right now I have two swatches, when all I really need is one swatch, and I've kind of destroyed or gotten rid of that other swatch, so I end up with just two swatches that mean the same thing which in this case here is a little bit extra and unwieldy.
So I am going to press Undo, Command+Z and I want to show you a yet another way that you could actually just replace colors using the SWATCHES panel inside of Illustrator. So I am going to start by selecting the color that I want to remain in my document, so that's the color right here. Next, I am going to hold down my Command key, I am on a Mac, but if you're on Windows, that would be the Ctrl key and now I am going to select a color that I want to remove from this document. Now, I will go to the SWATCHES panel flyout menu and choose a setting here called Merge Swatches.
When I do so, Illustrator gets rid of the old color and gives me just the new color. Notice over here that wherever the older color was used, it was now replaced with this new color. It's important to realize however, that the Merge command does not work with regular process swatches, it only works with global process swatches or spot swatches. So let's go to that step again, because it can be quite useful when working inside of Illustrator. Say at this point your client says, I love the design, but I really want this color that I am using right over here to actually be printing using a Pantone color.
In fact, in this document right now, I've already added a Pantone Swatch. This one right here called Pantone 5483. So basically, wherever this color is used in my document, I now want it to be replaced with the Pantone Color. Now again, what I could do is I could simply go ahead now and select something inside of my document. I could choose the Select setting over here and say, Select > Same > Fill Color. Now all those objects with that fill color becomes selected, and then I could simply switch it to be filled with a different swatch color.
But there are two things that happen here, first of all, I now need to go ahead and select all those colors. Let's say that color is being used in a stroke also, in Illustrator there is really no way to modify a fill and a stroke at the same time. So I'd need two sets of actions to actually make that happen and additionally, if that color is also being used inside of a gradient or inside of a pattern, I have to go through the steps of modifying those objects as well. It also means that I will be left with two swatches inside of my document, the Global Process versions and the Spot version and I want to avoid any confusion.
I really only want to be left with one color swatch inside of this document, so here's what I am going to do. I am going to deselect my artwork here. This artwork is still being colored by the Global Process color, which is right here and what I could do now is click once on my Spot Color. I am doing that because when I am using the Merge command and I want to merge color swatches, I have to first select a color that I want to keep in my document. Then I am going to press down the Command key or the Ctrl key on Windows, and I am now going to select a color that I want to remove from my document.
Now, I will go to the Swatches panel flyout menu and I will choose Merge Swatches. Illustrator now removes the other swatch and any colors that were filled with that color are now filled with my Pantone color. So now you can see if I select let's say the K right here, it's now filled with that Pantone 5483. If I am using global swatches or spot swatches, I can use the Merge command inside of Illustrator to make color changes quickly and efficiently without having to even select my artwork.
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