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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
We've seen a few examples of how useful it could be to add multiple stroke attributes to single objects inside of Illustrator. Now, let's focus on some real-world usage for why you might want to apply multiple fills to single objects inside of Illustrator. Now, in this file, called Floral Design, I have here a repeat of four different design elements. It's actually the same flower but on different colored backgrounds. This is actually going to be printing using spot colors. I have three spot colors here that I am working with. I have black, plus I have two Pantone colors. If you are looking at my document, I have Pantone 7458 and I also have Pantone 382.
But you know something, a technique that a lot of designers use when they only want to work with a very limited number of colors--in this case here just two spot colors plus black-- in order to simulate the use of more colors, they may mix different percentages of those colors to make it appear as if there are more colors. For example, I might want to add black to some of these colors, or I might want to mix spot colors themselves to give myself more creative possibilities when working with this design. Now, unfortunately there is no way to create a swatch inside of Illustrator that contains the mixture of more than one color.
Each swatch that you create can only contain a single color inside of it. Now what I could do is create multiple objects and kind of stack them on top of each other and set some of them to overprint, so that when they actually print out at separations, those colors will appear as if they're mixing together. However, then I am dealing with multiple objects my file. It becomes more difficult to edit, and I'd rather not deal with that kind of complexity. However, if I understand that I can actually apply multiple fills to a single object, I might be able to mix my spot colors that way.
Let's take a look at how that works. Now as we see here in the design, I have the two blue colors used over here and the two green colors used over here. So let's focus on these two and create different shades or variations of their color, so that we can add yet another dimension to this design. So I will start by switching to my regular Selection tool, and I will click on this green background right here. Now I actually want to take the blue color and have it set to overprint on top of this to get a much darker and richer color. So I am going to create now a second fill for this object. I am going to choose Add New Fill in the Appearance panel.
I am going to change the fill color not from the green color over here, I am going to change it to this 7458 color, and now I am going to go to the Window menu, and I am going to choose open up my Attributes panel. The Attributes panel gives me the ability to set the fill of that object to overprint. This tells Illustrator that when I separate this, I don't want the topmost fill to knock out the color that's beneath it. In this case, both plates print with that full solid background, so that when they print on press, both of those colors will mix together.
Now the thing is though, I can't really see that in any preview way here inside of Illustrator because the Overprint command is something that's only applied when actual separations are made. However, there is a great feature inside of Illustrator called Overprint preview, which allows you to actually preview what the overprint is going to look like directly on your screen. I am going to go to the View menu here. I am going to turn that on and choose Overprint Preview. And by the way, a side benefit of Overprint preview is that not only you see the actual overprint inside of your document, Illustrator also uses a much more richer environment for displaying spot colors on your screen.
So you will notice that right now that blue color will actually change somewhat, to more of kind of like an aquamarine kind of color, and that's a lot closer to the way that color will actually print on a printing press. So because I've now turned Overprint preview on, not only do I see my spot colors better, I can also see that effect that I have applied right here by creating two different fills. And setting the topmost fill to overprint, I get a much darker green color over here that I'm seeing, which starts, again, to add more richness to my design. It appears as if I'm using more than three colors here, but really all I am using are three spot colors.
Now for the artwork here on the bottom, I will select this colored background right here. Maybe I want to add a little bit of a black to that particular color. Maybe I want to add 20% black and mix that with a spot color to kind of darken that color somewhat. I am already using black in my design. This is a three-color job. So now I want to be able to mix some black into that. I am going to use a very similar technique. I am simply going to go to the Appearance panel. Let's add another fill. Let's set that fill to about maybe--I don't know. Let's do actually 30% gray. And in my Attributes panel, I am going to set that fill to Overprint.
So now you can see that I get a really nice design. What may look like a lot of different colors is really only using three spot colors, and instead of bogging my design down by multiple objects that have different overprints, I have simple objects here, regular rectangles behind each of these flowers, but some of those rectangles have multiple fills applied to them with overprint commands to allow for the mixing of spot colors.
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