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Understanding how the HSB color wheel works

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork

Video: Understanding how the HSB color wheel works

Now until this point, we have spoken about color models that include CMYK and RGB, and again, these are just ways that we can think about describing color. Now another way that we can describe color inside of Illustrator is using a color model called HSB. Now I am going to create a new document here inside of Illustrator and you'll note that when I create a new document I don't have the ability to specify HSB as a color mode for my document, because as we are going to find out HSB is just kind of like within RGB.

Understanding how the HSB color wheel works

Now until this point, we have spoken about color models that include CMYK and RGB, and again, these are just ways that we can think about describing color. Now another way that we can describe color inside of Illustrator is using a color model called HSB. Now I am going to create a new document here inside of Illustrator and you'll note that when I create a new document I don't have the ability to specify HSB as a color mode for my document, because as we are going to find out HSB is just kind of like within RGB.

So it's a way for me to describe color inside of Illustrator, but it's not a color model that I would use for a document. So Illustrator is always going to have RGB and CMYK as the color mode of my document. When I define colors though, I am going to click OK here to create my document, I am going to find it's very difficult to imagine how a color might appear by mixing values of RGB, and that's because RGB are really just values of light. When we were in school and we learned about creating colors using primary colors, we learned that, for example, mixing red and blue make purple and red and yellow make orange and blue and yellow make green, but RGB doesn't really work in that regard.

So if I knew I wanted to mix let's say, for example, a yellow color, how would I do that inside of RGB. I can kind of study the way that RGB works and understand how light works and kind of wrap my head around that. But the reality is that it's not a very intuitive way for me to choose color, and that's one of the primary reasons why HSB exists. It's just an easier way for us to define the color. In fact, the Color Picker that you have seen in Illustrator over all these years also can work in HSB. In fact, if I double-click here on the Fill color inside of Illustrator that brings up the Color Picker, and I can see that I have the HSB values here.

Let's first understand our breakdown exactly what HSB stands for. It stands for Hue, Saturation and Brightness. Now I am also going to find out in a few moments, Illustrator maps HSB colors around the wheel but as we see here in the Color Picker, we have things broken down inside of like a rectangle. In fact, we kind of have two parts over here. We have this square here of color, and then we have a whole bunch of colors here that looks almost like a rainbow on a little thin strip over here. Now you will notice over here that the H which is the Hue is referring to this little strip over here.

The U could be any of the color that appears inside of the spectrum. If we think about the rainbow, for example, we have all those colors. Now HSB really does always work in the concept of a wheel, so if I think about a circle, for example, and I have 360 degrees of that circle, any different variation with that degree would represent a different type of Hue. So if we can almost think about HSB for a moment here, the Hue is 360 different possible colors that exist on that wheel.

What we have here in this Color Picker is just one bar; it's kind of the wheel that's kind of have been flattened down or think of like a rainbow that's just been straightened out. Well, I start over here with these reds and I go through these colors here, and notice that as I move down over here the only value that's changing is the H value or the Hue value. I am going to set this above here towards the top. Now you will notice that I have a little bit of a circle right over here and if I drag this circle here towards the right, notice that right now the only value that is changing is the Saturation value. See over here where I have the S value.

If I go ahead now and I drag this left and right, I am keeping the same Hue, so basically I'm dealing here with a red color, but I'm adjusting just the Saturation value. As we go to the right, I am increasing the Saturation, and as we go to the left, I am decreasing the Saturation. But pay attention also what's happening here. What's this corner over here? this corner is white, so all the saturation basically is telling me is that right now on the far right I have my solid color or what we would refer to as our pure color, and then if I bring this Saturation level down over here towards 0 what I'm doing is, I am adding white to my pure color.

So the Saturation value refers to the amount of white that is present inside of my pure color. A Saturation value of 0 means that my color actually does not exist at all and all I have is complete white. Now if I start to move this circle down instead of left and right, but I am moving it up or down, notice now that the only value that's changing is the Brightness value, that's the B value right over here. As I clicked over here towards the top over here, I have no black in my color whatsoever, and as I go down I am starting to add black.

So the Brightness setting refers to the amount of black that I have inside of my pure color. Now again, things are laid out here using these squares and rectangle, so it's a bit difficult to visualize exactly how HSB works, because HSB works around the color wheel or something that's round. So I am actually going to cancel out of this for a moment. And I am going to go to my SWATCHES panel and let's actually see how Illustrator interprets working with HSB. Now normally, if I click over here to create a new swatch, I can choose to define a swatch using HSB.

And notice over here that I have the three sliders. Again, the H refers to the Hue, which is measured in 0-360 degrees. And then I have Saturation values and Brightness values. So again, what I'm basically doing is I am choosing an actual pure color, and then I'm choosing how much white or how much black I want in that color. So it's much easier to visualize color using HSB, than it would be trying to mix different values of red, green and blue lights. However, I'm still dealing with these sliders over here. Let's actually cancel out of this for a moment and let's see how Illustrator now allows us to live inside of this world of HSB, but using our color wheel in a far more meaningful way.

I am actually going to come over here to my SWATCHES panel. I am going to click on just the red swatch here, it's RGB Red, it created a RGB document here, and I am going to come down here to the bottom of the panel where I have this folder with the plus sign on it. It's called New Color Group and we are going to spend a lot of time dealing with creating color groups inside of Illustrator in Chapter 03. But for now, I am just going to click on this button and since I have that red swatch color already selected, I am going to now create a new color group with that swatch inside of it. I am just going to click OK in this dialog box, I don't really care about the name for this, and really what I want to do is I just want to have a single color group that has this one red color inside of it, it's called RGB Red. Great! Now inside of Illustrator I know that I can double-click on a swatch itself to actually modify the swatch, but if I only have one color inside of my group, I get this dialog box here called Edit Colors.

I am just going to cancel out of here for a moment here because I want to show you that if you double-click on the folder itself that brings up this Edit Color dialog box. Now what I see here is actually a wheel of color, we call this the color wheel, and it's using HSB to define this color right now. So now we can visualize really what HSB is on the different level. This is going to be important throughout the entire title, because we are going to find out that Illustrator allows us to control color using this method or this idea about how to work with color.

Now the color that I have selected right now, the color swatch that I have is that red color. Red happens to be at the top of the wheel itself. In fact, if we measure the degrees in a circle, you know we have 0-360 degrees, so Illustrator puts that point over here of 360, right here on the right side here, or the 3 o'clock position. So instead of the 12 o'clock position where this might be rotated towards the top, just imagine right now that color wheel kind of lying on its side, so at the 3 o'clock position is where the color wheel starts and this over here would be the purest red that I would have in this HSB color model.

Now if you look at my sliders here at the bottom I am currently now looking at the HSB sliders, as we will find that Illustrator does let us switch between different kind of sliders, but for here I want to focus on HSB, because again, this is going to be another way to visualize how HSB works. And the more that we understand what this color wheel does, the more we would be able to come back to this color wheel at any time, to modify our colors even if we are not using HSB. It's just important for us to understand what makes this color wheel tick. Let's focus on the Hue. We before said that the Hue itself is measured in values from 0-360 and kind of represents the different pure color that exists on this color wheel.

So if I adjust this slider here what you will see that's going to happen is that the red will start moving clockwise or counterclockwise around this color wheel. So I am just going to click and drag on this slider and you will see that right now I am changing the Hue of the color. So, for example, if you are working with HSB, you know that something in the 60s, for example, would be a yellow color, but basically as I move this top slider that Hue is basically being adjusted. So I am going in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction to get that kind of color change.

Now I am going to go back here to 360, which is that pure red color. Now I am going to come down to the Saturation value, and remember, saturation just means that I'm able to add white to my color. Now right now at 100% that means I don't have any white whatsoever. But as I drag this slider here to the left, I'm starting to add more and more white to my color, or we can also think of it as desaturating the color. Now if I am at the value of 0, my color is completely gone, it's like pure white at this point. But notice that as I adjust the slider, the actual Hue is staying the same, it's right now at that 360 degrees and all I'm doing is I moving that little circle here towards the center of the circle.

So as I go towards the centre of the circle, I add more white, or I desaturate my color. As I go towards the outside of the circle, I am adding saturation or increasing saturation, and I am moving towards the outside of the circle here. Now let's focus on Brightness. Again, Brightness just determines how much black I have inside of my color, and at a 100%, it means that I have no black at all. If I click on the slider and I started to move towards the left here, notice that the little swatch itself starts to get dark until it goes completely black. So as I move towards the right here, I am removing black from my color and as I go towards the left, I'm adding black to the color.

So those are the settings that I have when working with HSB. I have the Hue, and then I have Saturation and Brightness levels. Now again I'm kind of taking you through these steps because even if we don't actually use HSB on a day-to-day basis inside of Illustrator, we are still going to come back to these concepts about how this color wheel works inside of Illustrator, because we're going to find out that we can easily swap out the HSB for any colors that we decide that we want to work with. In other words, if we understand how this color wheel works inside of Illustrator, we unlock a tremendous amount of potential and our ability to control any color inside of our document at any time.

In fact, as you'll find out throughout this entire title, we are going to be coming back to this color wheel time and time again. It may seem a little complex at first, but don't worry, once you understand its standard settings, you'll find that this is probably going to be one of the most important and exciting features to use 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 · 12624 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  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
      27s
  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
      50s

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