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Adobe Illustrator has long been the most popular and viable vector-drawing program on the market but, for many, the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials , author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland teaches the key features of Illustrator in a way that anyone can understand. He also goes beyond that, showing users how to get into the Illustrator "mindset" to make mastering Illustrator simple and easy. The training covers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text and gradients, and color management and printing features. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this time it is going to make sense. Exercise files accompany the training.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to dial in custom colors using cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, the CMYK sliders so that you have a little bit of passing knowledge in that department, and you can figure out how to color an object green for example, or purple or whatever. And before we do that, though I want you to note, I'm working here inside the Ton-po shapes.ai file that's available to you inside of the 05_Fill_strokes folder. And if you go to the File menu and you choose Document Color Mode, you'll notice that I'm working in CMYK color. Illustrator asks you to make a choice whether you're going to print, in which case you want to be working with CMYK color, or whether you're going to screen or you're going to be creating a presentation or you're going to film output or something along those lines, in which case you want to work with RGB color.
We're doing print, so we're going to stick with CMYK right here. Then I'm going to go up to this Fill icon, I'm going to Shift-click on it up here in the Control palette in order to bring up my CMYK sliders. And there they are. They allow us to make cyan, magenta and yellow inks. Those are our three primary colors along with the key color black, which allows you to make colors either darker or lighter. And those are the four standard inks in process color printing and process color printing is employed by just about every commercial print house out there.
So how do you go about dialing in colors using these inks? Well let's take a look at what these inks look like on their own. First of all here I'm going to change the cyan value to 100 and the other values to 0. So this is what 100% cyan looks like on screen, and it's basically a light blue with a little bit of green in it, and its whole purpose in life, the reason cyan ink exists, is it's taking white light, so you shine white light on your cyan ink that's on a page, real cyan ink layed down on a real page, and that cyan absorbs the red light out of the white light and it reflects back green and blue, hence it looks to you like a combination of green and blue, which is what you see here. That'scyan. Magenta meanwhile reflects back red and blue light, hence it looks like hot pink, and it absorbs green light. And then finally we've got yellow which of course is yellow. We all know what yellow is, but it's there, from a commercial printing standard, it's to absorb blue light and reflect back red and green. All right so. Interesting theory, how does it work? Let's say that you want to dial in green, you want to actually fill the shape that I have selected here with green. Then you would go ahead and maximize your yellow value all the way to 100% and then you'd raise your cyan value.
At about a cyan value of 50% here, you get something resembling a chartreuse color. If you want to make it more of an emerald color, you add more cyan to the mix. Now one of the great things is that these sliders actually update for you on-the-fly. Notice that they're showing you what colors you're going to achieve, so that if I move this slider triangle, watch the other sliders. They all update to show me what different colors I can achieve after I release at this location, then I can move the slider to this location and get that color and they're all constantly updating on-the-fly. Very handy feature.
Reviewing the colors that are available to us. Let's go ahead and take yellow out of the picture here and notice at this point with just half values of cyan and magenta, that is about 50% each, we get this sort of low saturation blue-gray color going here. If I was to raise the cyan value I would get more blue. If I wanted a really rich, deep blue I would go ahead and raise the magenta value as well, and then at this point, if I wanted more of a violet color, I would strip out some of my cyan and the lower I go with my cyan value, the more of a purple I end up getting.
And then finally if you want something like a red, let's say. You go ahead and take cyan out of the equation, leave magenta full on, go ahead and raise that yellow value. So 100% magenta plus 100% yellow gets you a nice scarlet red. If you want it to be more of a rose color then you take some of the yellow out. If you want it to be more of an orange color, you take some of the magenta out, and that's all that's going on there. Then of course, you just add black if you want to darken that color up. Now adding black sometimes makes the color muddier, it depends on which color you're working with. If you want to darken up the color and add richness to it as well, then you probably want to add some opposing color like in this case we had an orange going, the opposing color would be cyan and I'm going to go ahead and take up these values in order to create something like a rich chocolatey brown, at this point here. Isn't that nice? So that's a function of using those CMYK sliders. That's one way to work inside of Illustrator, one of the more common ways to dial in colors. In the next exercise I'll show you how to dial in colors using red and green and blue.
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