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Using multiple fills to mix spot colors

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Using multiple fills to mix spot colors

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.

Using multiple fills to mix spot colors

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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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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