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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.
Throughout this title, we have discussed something called Pantone colors. We have referred to those as libraries that are called color book libraries. Again, that's mainly because these colors are often published in these books. However, it's important to realize that many designers choose pantone colors, because they're able to achieve certain colors that you can't get with process colors. For example, bright oranges or greens or blues. We've also spoken about other colors like Metallic colors, for example.
Now there may be times when you are working with the pantone color inside of Illustrator and you want to find out what its equivalent is in process colors, you want to find its CMYK breakdown, and sometimes people get confused, because they see that Illustrator defines pantone colors as something called a book color. So I want to explain exactly what a book color is inside of Illustrator, why it exists and more importantly how to benefit from it. I am going to start by creating a new document here. I am just going to use a Print profile. I want to start out with the CMYK document and I will click OK.
Now let's bring a few pantone colors into this document. So I am going to go to the Library icon right here in the Swatches panel, I'll choose Color Books and let's go to Pantone solid coated. Now there are few colors here at the top which I want to focus on right now. For example, there's this Pantone Orange 021, we will load that, and then let's look at Pantone Red 032. Let's may be do Pantone Purple, and let's do a Violet. Why not? So we have these four colors right now, Pantone Orange 021, Pantone Red 032, and then I also have Purple and Violet.
I can close this library now and let's apply those colors to my screen. Let me zoom-in just a bit here and I'm going to create four rectangles, pretty straightforward right here, just do one rectangle like this and I am just going to hold down my Option and Shift Keys to create a copy, and then I will press Command+D, and again, that will be Ctrl+D on Windows. And I am going to simply take the first one and color that with Pantone Orange 021, the second one will be the Red 032. This one will be the Purple, this one is already the Violet, but in case it is on your screen, just simply go ahead and apply the Violet color.
So now I have these four colors that are really these vibrant colors, when I would actually print them on press, because my printer would mix the colors to match the real true pantone color. However, if I wanted to see the CMYK breakdown to these or what their equivalents are, I could, for example, double-click on a swatch, I have no artwork selected now, so I can just double-click on Pentone Orange 021 and I could see that here everything is kind of grayed out, because this is a color that I loaded from a library and the Color mode is currently set to something called Book Color.
Now I can see what the CMYK breakdown is, but I know a lot of times many designers try to actually switch this to CMYK, and then they try to click OK, and they don't understand why when they come back to that, Illustrator actually resets it back to a Book Color again. So first let's understand exactly what a Book Color is, and then we will understand why Illustrator is doing this. When pantone goes ahead and creates colors, they're obviously looking to create very rich and beautiful colors. They don't really care about their CMYK equivalence.
So, for example, if they feel designers really want a bright orange color, they'll mix their own custom inks to come up with that bright orange color. Now when Pantone delivers their libraries of colors to a company like Adobe, for example, they will create this Excel spreadsheet that lists each of the colors, and then they'll also list what the closest possible match to that color is in the process world, which is the CMYK breakdowns. However, the real closest match to that color can be described in Lab. We discussed way back in the beginning of this title that Lab is a far more accurate way of describing how people perceive color, so the gamut of course is much wider.
So the people at Pantone actually create both CMYK breakdowns, but also Lab breakdowns. The problem with Illustrator is that inside of a regular swatch, I can only store a color using one of these color models. So if I use CMYK, I am kind of dumming down this color, what really should be a very bright and vibrant orange color, it end up being this dumbed down CMYK color, which is going to look dull in comparison. If I use a Lab color model, I get a much closer representation of that color, but that also means that if I as a designer decide that I want to convert this pantone color to CMYK, I am going to get a color conversion that first goes through Lab, and then goes to CMYK.
So I am going to get odd values, I am not going to get a solid value, like I have here which would be 0, 53, 100, and 0. I would get something that has like up to two or three different decimal points for each of these colors. So if I know at the end of the day that my color is going to be converted to CMYK, I probably want to leave it as a CMYK color, however, if I know I am working in a workflow where this actually is going to print as a Pantone Orange 021 on press, I probably want that Lab value, so that I can see on my screen what that orange color is really going to look like.
But like we just discussed, there is no way for Illustrator to combine two different color models or better yet to describe a single color using two different color models, within the same swatch. I would need to have two versions of my swatch; I would need to have a CMYK version and a Lab version. Now I know this may sound somewhat technical, but this all comes together when we think about what a book color is inside of Illustrator. A Book Color is a special kind of a swatch. It's a swatch that can actually contain inside of it two different color definitions, a CMYK color definition, and also a Lab color definition.
So when Adobe gets that spreadsheet that shows all the CMYK and Lab breakdowns of each of the colors in the Pantone Library, Adobe actually puts both of those values into something called a Book Color. So I am going to click OK. So that means that right now inside of each of these swatches, I have both the CMYK version and also a Lab version of a color. Now by default, Illustrator is always going to be serving me up the CMYK version, because that's what designers are most familiar with. But if I know that I'm going to actually be printing with pantone colors here, I am not going to be breaking these down to CMYK, I might want to see a close representation of what these colors really look like as I am working inside of Illustrator.
So what I really want to do is I want Illustrator to show me these colors using their Lab definitions and not their CMYK definitions. The way that I can do that is by turning on a feature here in the View menu called Overprint Preview. Now normally, this special preview is used so that you can actually preview Overprint on your screen. If you're not similar with the concept of what an Overprint is, I suggest you take a look at another one of my Illustrator Insider Training Titles here at lynda.com called Seeing Through Transparency.
We go into detail about exactly what an Overprint is. However, this particular preview mode not only shows Overprint on my screen, it also instructs all spot colors that are currently set to Book Color to use their lab color equivalents as a preview mechanism. So watch what happens when I turn Overprint Preview on. You can see now that the colors that I am seeing look different. Let me go back to here for a minute to the View menu and turn it off. Take a look at the orange on the left side of my screen as I turn this on and off.
Likewise take a look at the Purple. You can see that there is a visible color change as I make the changes between the different preview modes. So if I know I'm using pantone spot colors, and I want to get a much closer representation on my screen of what that color is going to look like, I'll make sure to turn Overprint Preview on. It also means that I'd want to keep my swatch set as a Book Color; because that means that all times my swatch contains both CMYK and Lab equivalence. If I want to see Lab, I will turn on the Overprint Preview.
If I want to get my CMYK breakdown, I'll simply go ahead and just convert my swatch to a regular process color instead of a spot color. Now the same thing applies, by the way, when I'm printing. If I go to the File menu here and I choose to print my document, I can go over here to the Advanced section of my dialog, and where it says Overprints, right now it's currently set to Preserve. However, if I choose to simulate my overprints, which is similar to turning on Overprint Preview, that allows Illustrator to send Lab color values to my printer, instead of the CMYK values.
Now if I am printing to a regular laser printer that uses CMYK toner-based inks, I'm probably not going to see much of a difference. However, if I am using an Inkjet printer, there are some inkjet printers that use six colors. That allows the printer to achieve colors that go beyond the CMYK color gamut. In other words, if I'm working with pantone colors, and I want to get the closest possible preview or proof to what my file actually will look like when it gets printed on a press. Working with Book Colors and then choosing Overprint Preview in my document or choosing to simulate overprints when I print will give me the closest possible results to that final color.
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