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Understanding color reduction

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork

Video: Understanding color reduction

One of the things that the recolor artwork feature inside of Illustrator excels at is something called Color Reduction. Many times as you're working throughout a design, you may start off with using a lot of colors, but then you may find that as you move along that you want to reduce the number of colors that you're working with. For example, in a previous movie inside this chapter we spoke about taking several different shades of grays or blacks and converting them all to a single rich black color. So we took four colors and we reduced them down, to only now use one color.

Understanding color reduction

One of the things that the recolor artwork feature inside of Illustrator excels at is something called Color Reduction. Many times as you're working throughout a design, you may start off with using a lot of colors, but then you may find that as you move along that you want to reduce the number of colors that you're working with. For example, in a previous movie inside this chapter we spoke about taking several different shades of grays or blacks and converting them all to a single rich black color. So we took four colors and we reduced them down, to only now use one color.

True, in that case I was dealing specifically with all things that were intended to be black or that were intended to be a single color. However, there are many times when you have multiple colors at hand and you need to find a way to reduce the number of colors down either for budget reasons or even design reasons to use a fewer number of colors let's take this example right here. I started out with a four color process version of my artwork which appears in the left side right here. Then I wanted to offer my client another option.

I thought it might be nice to add some spot colors specifically some Pantone metallic colors to really add something to the final printed piece. So my proposal was to stick with the existing four color process which is used in all of the rest of the artwork, but to add two additional colors to my design, two pantone metallic colors. So the total number of colors that would be used now when I print this would be six colors. I would need cyan, magenta, yellow, and black plus I would need the two pantone colors.

After showing this to my client he loved the idea of using this metallic colors. In fact, he was enamored with them. But he didn't have the budget to print with six colors. So instead he asked if we could actually create a version of this artwork that uses all pantone colors, meaning take the two metallic pantone colors that I used and use those for the rest of the design as well. We probably still want to keep black in play here, but we were able to convince the client to go with a three color job, meaning we are going to use black ink, plus the two pantone colors.

My task at hand right now is to get all of my artwork that appears now on this design to only use either black or the two pantone colors. So let's see how we can use the Recolor Artwork dialog box to make that happen for us. In the process, we are going to learn something about a colorization method inside of Illustrator, which is going to provide us with a few different options. So I am first going to create a copy of this artwork. This is the version that already, has the two pantone colors that appear at this part of the artwork.

So I am just going to select this, I'll go to my tools panel and I'll double-click on the Selection tool. This brings up the Move dialog and I'll type in a value of 250 for Horizontal, and then I'll click Copy. So now I've created a copy of this artwork and I am going to work on this copy now to create yet a third version. This version is going to contain only black and two spot colors. So with the artwork selected, I am going to click on the color wheel here to bring up the Recolor Artwork dialog box. I'll position it here on the left side so I can focus on the artwork right here and I'll see that currently in my design I have 16 colors.

If I scroll down the list here, I see that it's also counting white and black and shades of gray. By the way, these shades of gray here are being used in the gradient that appears in the background. I am going to be able to use black in my design. I am going to actually go with a three color print job here. I am going to use black plus two pantone colors. So I can actually keep gray, because that's just a shade of the black ink print that's going to print. So in this case here, I really don't want to change white, I don't want to change black, and I don't want to change gray. So I actually want Illustrator to automatically protect all those colors.

So to do that I am going to click on this button right here to open up the Color Reduction Options dialog box and where it says Preserve I am going to tell Illustrator preserve White, preserve Black, and also preserve any Grays. So now when I click OK, if I scroll down here I can see that these colors now are not included in the colors that are going to change; meaning that these colors are now are currently protected. Now I actually want to protect two other colors. You see I have two objects here, this rectangle that appears behind the flower and also the rectangle that appears behind the word Seeds which are already my pantone colors.

I don't need to remap those pantone colors at all. I actually want to keep them and preserve them in an untouched form. So I'm going to identify those here inside of my Current Colors by using the magnifying glass. So right now all my colors are dimmed. I am going to start clicking on some of the colors here and I'll see that this color row right here refers to the spot color that's being used right now in this area. I don't need that to change. That's fine the way that it is. So I could ask you just turn off the arrow, so now that color has now also been protected.

If I scroll up the list over here and I click on some other areas of shades of green, not that one, not that one there we go! That one is also right now a pantone color and I can confirm that, by the way, by double-clicking on the new color here seeing what that color is actually going to be and if click on Color Swatches, I see that's already assigned to PANTONE 8343. So I am going to click Cancel and again I'll protect this color as well. So now what I'm telling the Illustrator is that all of the other colors right now have the ability to change except for the ones that I've now protected and in addition the ones that are protected here, which are blacks, whites, and grays.

I've already protected my blacks and my grays. So I am now left with two colors. I need to have all the other colors that now exist in this artwork, which are all of these different shades here, purple, so on and so forth, greens, reds. I want all of these now to change to using either one of those two pantone colors. So where it says. Colors over here right now I have 10 colors. There are 16 total in my design, but I've protected a total of six of them. So I am left now with 10 colors that I could change.

I am now going to select this number and change it 2. Then I'll hit the Tab key to accept that value. So let's take a look at what Illustrator just did. Illustrator now took all of the remaining 10 colors and combined them so that they all now remapped to two colors. Illustrator actually, analyzes all of the colors that I had left and tries to somehow find which ones have hues that are close to each other, and in fact, in another movie we are going to go into detail about how Illustrator actually calculates which colors get grouped together.

But we don't necessarily need to go with the suggestion that Illustrator is making here. So, for example, I have a whole bunch of different shades of these green colors here that I do think belong together, but these colors over here maybe belong with this color here. So all I need to do is take these colors and drag them into this row, because I want these colors to all change into one color, and then I want these colors to all change into one color. So let's determine now what each of these colors are now going to turn into. I want all of these colors to change into one of the Pantone colors.

So I am going to double-click here on the New Color, go to Color Swatches, and remap it to PANTONE 8343. Let me click OK. Next, I want all of these colors to remap to the other Pantone color which is, if I scroll to the top here, PANTONE 8203. Now I am going to click OK and I've now just been able to remap these colors to the Pantone colors. But understand here that what I'm doing is I am taking in this case over here seven different colors that now are in one color row, and I'm reducing them down to now become one color.

In this case here, I am taking these three colors and reducing them down to one color. I am going to turn off the magnifying glass here for a minute because I want to look at the result of my artwork here. But I want to explain something here called the colorization method, because if you think about it what I'm doing is I am taking seven different colors right here and I'm changing them all to one color. How exactly, should Illustrator make that conversion? Should all of these seven colors now become one solid new color? Or maybe Illustrator could somehow simulate different shades of that color, so it's taking seven different distinct colors and converting them into seven shades of one new color? So the answer is that actually we have the ability to choose how Illustrator goes through this conversion or this color reduction process.

Notice that when I move my mouse over the new color here, a little button appears just to the right of it, and a little pop-up says that this specifies the colorization method. If click on it, I'll see that Illustrator offers me five different colorization methods. Something called Exact, something called Preserved Tints. Something called Scale Tints, and then I have Tints and Shades and Hue Shift, which right now are both grayed out. The reason why those are grayed out right now is because I have this option here called Preserve Spot Colors checked on.

If I were to uncheck that, those now would become available. In a minute when we discuss exactly, what each of these colorization methods are we'll understand why that happens, but for now I am going to leave Preserve Spot Colors turned on, because I actually want to preserve my spot colors. After all, my goal in this example is to actually get at a piece of artwork that contains spot colors inside of it. First let's understand exactly what the colorization method is doing here. A colorization method determines how multiple colors appear when they're converted to a single color.

So again, before on this color row, I have now seven distinct colors. I'm telling Illustrator to convert those seven colors to one brand-new color and I can do that in a variety of different ways. I can convert them exactly meaning take all seven colors and convert them all to one new exact color. If I choose that option right now and I click off of this to make it go away and accept that value, take a look at what happens to my artwork. Notice I no longer have any ingredients or shades of different colors.

I am basically, taking seven different colors and making them all one new solid color. Let's go back to my colorization method here. If I click on this little button, I can now choose the Preserve Tint value and then click off of it to accept it. And now I see different result. I kind of get that appearances of some kind of gradient there and that's because there are already some kind of tint values that exist inside my documents, specifically these objects that have color applied to them. So Illustrator is now doing is it's looking at those colors and if those colors already have tints inside of them, for example, different shades of color that may appear inside of a gradient, Illustrator is preserving those tint values.

Now let's go to a different method here. I am going to choose Scale Tints which happens to be the default settings inside of Illustrator and if I now click off of this to accept it, I see different results in my artwork. What happens in this option is that Illustrator takes the color that I'm working with right now and actually takes the darkest color that appears in my row, which right now would be this color, and it makes this color exactly, match this color. It then generates different tint values of this color for each of the colors that are lighter than it.

Now I am going to go back to the colorization method popup here and I am going to uncheck Preserve Spot Colors just so that you can see what these other two options do. Tints and Shades actually does something a little bit different than what Preserve Tints does. Instead of just creating tints that are lighter than with the darkest color that appears in that row, Tints and Shades will also create shades of color or add black to color to make certain colors appear darker. So if I click off of this now to apply this, notice now that I see a much darker color appearing here inside of these gradients.

Now in many cases this would force spot colors to now be converted to process. So I will lose my spot colors in such a case, and that's why I need to uncheck that box to make this option available. Likewise, if I go back to the colorization method popup here and I choose Hue Shift this will actually also change the hue of colors inside of my color row. So it may offer a more creative options for me, but again I'm going to be losing my spot colors. So let's go back over here, click on the popup, go back to Preserve Spot Colors, and choose the Scale Tints option.

To be honest, the two settings that I use most often and the ones that I focus on the most are, Scale Tints and Exact. Now again the default setting here would be Scale Tints. If I click on this right now, I get the beautiful gradients that I've created. But I will tell you that in this case here I am using metallic spot colors. They may not look that great when I have different gradients here, and I really want them to pop off of this page. So I want to maintain my design, but I really want to have them reduced only be using solid colors. So in this case here I am actually going to use a colorization method of Exact.

Now when I click off the window here, I can see exactly, what my artwork is going to look like. Now I will click OK to accept it. So now I've created three different versions of my artwork. One uses process colors, one uses process colors plus two spot colors, and one uses black plus two spot colors. All of this was possible with just a few clicks of the mouse using the Recolor Artwork feature inside of Illustrator.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork
Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork

48 video lessons · 12386 viewers

Mordy Golding

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  1. 6m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Adobe Illustrator: A colorful history
      3m 25s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
  2. 32m 35s
    1. Getting to know the color models
      9m 5s
    2. Understanding the difference between process and custom colors
      7m 7s
    3. Understanding how the HSB color wheel works
      11m 2s
    4. Working with color harmonies
      5m 21s
  3. 43m 55s
    1. Deconstructing the Color panel
      6m 36s
    2. Working with "phantom" colors
      5m 16s
    3. Defining and using process colors
      6m 15s
    4. Defining and using global process colors
      7m 51s
    5. Defining and using spot colors
      8m 37s
    6. Accessing color libraries
      9m 20s
  4. 46m 22s
    1. Organizing colors into groups
      13m 59s
    2. Creating swatches and groups from artwork
      7m 19s
    3. Removing unused swatches from documents
      3m 48s
    4. Replacing and merging color swatches
      5m 38s
    5. Creating and managing your own color libraries
      6m 10s
    6. Making custom libraries permanent
      2m 50s
    7. Adding custom colors to new documents
      6m 38s
  5. 19m 42s
    1. Accessing Kuler from within Illustrator
      2m 20s
    2. Getting inspiration from the Color Guide panel
      2m 41s
    3. Understanding how the Color Guide works
      3m 58s
    4. Setting limits on the Color Guide
      10m 43s
  6. 40m 54s
    1. Editing color groups with the color wheel
      12m 51s
    2. Breaking down the Recolor Artwork feature
      8m 16s
    3. Understanding what color rows represent
      6m 34s
    4. Protecting black, white, and gray
      6m 24s
    5. Finding colors quickly with the magnifying glass
      3m 28s
    6. Randomly changing colors
      3m 21s
  7. 53m 34s
    1. Making global color adjustments
      3m 48s
    2. Remapping colors in an illustration
      6m 13s
    3. Fixing colors in a document
      8m 57s
    4. Understanding color reduction
      13m 29s
    5. Reducing colors intelligently and precisely
      7m 42s
    6. Changing the colors within patterns
      4m 39s
    7. Using color groups to your advantage
      8m 46s
  8. 21m 24s
    1. Converting color to grayscale
      3m 25s
    2. Converting to grayscale with the Grayscale color group
      4m 45s
    3. Converting grayscale to color
      2m 27s
    4. Finding spot equivalents of process colors
      6m 48s
    5. Producing color matches intelligently
      3m 59s
  9. 16m 26s
    1. Proofing colors for color-blindness
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding book color
      9m 11s
    3. Previewing color separations
      2m 19s
  10. 3m 20s
    1. Taking color further with the Phantasm CS plug-in
      2m 30s
    2. Next steps

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