Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Without a doubt, one of the most powerful aspects of the Recolor Artwork feature inside of Illustrator is its ability to make precise color replacement. This function is actually done through the Assign tab found in the Recolor Artwork dialog box. But before I open that dialog box, I'm first going to add a color or two to our Swatches panel, and again it's important to realize that when you are working with Recolor Artwork, it's always best to prepare your colors that you want to use in advance. Once you're actually inside of the Recolor Artwork dialog box, it's too late to start messing around and trying to find and create your color. So one of the exercises that I want to explore in this particular movie is converting this beautiful full color artwork into like a one color or a two color spot color job, so maybe only using two different Pantone colors.
So I'll go to my Swatches panel, and I'll click on this button over here called Swatch Libraries menu. I'll go to Color Books, Pantone Solid Coated, and let's just add a few colors arbitrarily. I know I'm just going to take some regular plain colors here. Let's do Reflex Blue, and let's choose like a Red color here as my Pantone Red 032. So we have those two colors. Right now, I'm going to close this panel and one important thing that I'm going to point out here is that, I did not put these into a color group, I left these basically floating free inside of the Swatches panel and as we see we'll work now inside of the Recolor Artwork dialog box.
I'll see why generally it's best to put this into a group. But I just want to be able to contrast and show you what difference is between colors that live in groups and colors that do not. Now I'm going to hit Command+A or Ctrl+ A to actually select all the objects in this particular document that's called floral_design_2. And I want to change all its colors. I want to convert them by either using one or two different spot colors to explore each of those specific options. So with my artwork selected, I'm going to go over here to the Recolor Artwork button and I'll now open up the Recolor Artwork dialog box, and right away Illustrator brings me here to the Assign tab. I'll move it here just to the right side over here, so that we can see on the left side all the artwork that we are looking at.
Now the first thing to notice, remember that we created those new two Pantone colors, but they were not added to any group. As far as ease of accessibility goes, I really can't see those Pantone colors at all unless they were inside of a group. So in order to find those Pantone colors, we just have to go digging a little bit deeper, but we'll get to that in a moment. The first thing to notice that right now inside of our documents we currently have seven colors, and Illustrator provides each of those colors here in a list. Well, these are each of the colors that appear in the document, each of these areas here. For example, these distinct rows that exist here are referred to as color rows. In fact, what these color rows will actually represent is a formula.
Illustrator is letting me know that right now this color exists in my document. The arrow that appears here means that that color will change, and then the color here is kind of the end of equation. That color will change into this new color. So as we can see here we have Current Colors and then we have New Colors. And again, each row basically tells me that this color here will change into this color. Now by default, the first time that I launch the dialog box and I move to the Assign tab here, Illustrator automatically remaps each color to itself. So in that way, no color changes here in my artboard. But you can actually drag these colors around. For example, say I wanted all objects that were currently filled with this yellow color, we fill with this purple color. Well, I can click on this color right here and drag it up over here, and now what I specify is that all objects that had this color, now get changed into this color.
Now remember there is no Undo here inside of the Recolor Artwork dialog box. I'm just going to click on this button right over here to basically re-bring the colors back inside of the dialog again. So as I discussed in the beginning, my goal here is to actually turn all these particular colors in this document to just one color. I want, let's say, to create just a one-color job. Maybe we'll use that Pantone Reflex Blue. Now obviously, if I simply just choose Pantone Reflex Blue for all this artwork, I'm just going to get one solid block of blue. Instead what I would like to do is I would like to have Illustrator look at each of these objects and convert them to different values or tints of that Pantone color.
So what I can do is come over here where it says Colors, and right now it's set to Auto. That means that Illustrator is automatically giving us the exact number of colors that appear inside of our document. But I'm going to change that to one. In doing so, you could see that Illustrator collapsed and took all the colors of my document. Right now there are seven colors, I see a black and white and then I see the other five colors here, and Illustrator now is converting all of these colors to one new color. Now, if I want that one new color to be the Pantone Reflex Blue, I'll double-click on this icon to bring up the Color Picker. Then again I'll click on Color Swatches, as I want to see all the swatches in my document. I'll move this particular arrow up towards the top over here, where I have my Pantone Reflex Blue. I'll click OK, and now I've successfully told Illustrator to remap all my color to Reflex Blue.
However, you may note before that it says over here Current Colors (7), but I now only see five colors here, and then I see black and white here. In fact, this really won't separate as a true one-color job. That's because I now have black ink here. So the reason why this happens is because, by default, Illustrator has the ability to protect certain colors. The default setting inside of Illustrator is to always protect black and white. That's because usually you want those colors to stay. For example, let's see you have lots of text in your file, and that text is all colored black. When you want to go ahead and change colors you may want to leave that text to be Black, or if you have illustrations that use ink lines or outlines and those are colored black, you may want to leave those inking lines black, while changing all the colors inside of them. But we can actually change that by just turning on the arrow for that color.
Now see where it says two colors, I'm actually going to change that now back to one, and I'll see that the black was now incorporated in that and now the job is completely remapped to a new color. I'm going to reload the original colors again because I want to show you now an alternative method of doing that. In fact, let's say right now I want to reduce my document to only use two spot colors. So the first task that I'm going to have is first identifying where those particular colors exist in my document. Now this is a fairly simple document, but you may have a document that may have lots of different colors inside of it. So to easily identify where a color is used in your document, you can use this icon here on the bottom, this magnifying glass, which allows you to identify where a color is used. For example, I'm just going to click on this color right over here. Notice that right now it's highlighted, it has a gray background.
I'm going to click on this magnifying glass, and you'll see that right now Illustrator grays out everything except for that color background. This magnifying glass is really kind of like a toggle. So once I turn it on, it stays on until I turn it off. But I can now click on other colors to see where those colors exist. Each time I click on a color row it identifies where those colors are inside of the artwork. Now I'll click on the magnifying glass again to turn that off. And now let's say I want to leave the particular background the same, but I want to change all the colors of the flowers to something else. So rather than specify a value here in the Color field, I can simply go over here and click-and-drag to combine these colors manually. For example, I'll click on this color here and bring this one up. I'm now telling Illustrator, "take these three colors in my document and convert them to one new color." Now I want this color to be on its own. So I'm now going to take this color and bring that into this one as well. I'll even bring the black into this one as well.
So now I'm obviously working with one set of colors here and one set of colors here. Now here is one of the reasons why working with groups is so important inside of Illustrator. If I want to now specify those Pantone Colors as well, I'm going to actually double-click on this one, click on Color Swatches, go up to the list, choose let's say the Reflex Blue for this one, then double-click on this one right here, again click on Color Swatches, roll up again, click on the Red 032 and now apply that one. And now it has basically applied my blue and my red colors to my document. However, it would have been much easier if I would have created a color group inside of Illustrator that just contained those two colors inside of it.
Because then I can simply just click once on that group and it would automatically map those two colors to the objects. In fact, to show you what I mean, I'm actually going to click on this button over here to reload the colors again. I'm now working with seven colors. Let's say I want to remap them to a different color group. For example, this Poppy group, this Poppy group only has four colors. So by clicking once over here, Illustrator will automatically find colors and kind of combine them together and allow me to reduce my document to only use the colors found in this particular color group. So it just saves a lot of manual work and a lot of extra clicking when you use color groups in Illustrator.
Now, in reality, you can see how Illustrator remapped all these colors here. It probably would have made a lot more sense to remap this color to this color right here. Now Illustrator unfortunately has no way to analyze the colors in that kind of way. So there is the button here on the bottom that allows you to randomly change the color order. In doing so, you can start to experiment with different ways of how those colors get replaced throughout your document. So at the end of the day, the Recolor Artwork dialog box, specifically here in the Assign tab really allows you to be very precise about how you want to swap or change your colors, once you understand what these icons represents. In other words, these are the colors that currently exist in your document, this is indicating that those colors will actually change and this indicates the color that those colors will change into.
So gone are the days of digging into your document to try and select different objects, ingredients and patterns, the Recolor Artwork dialog box does all that for you in just a few simple clicks.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
119 Video lessons · 49832 Viewers
117 Video lessons · 37132 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 81142 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 10436 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.