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Working with color harmonies

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork

Video: Working with color harmonies

As we start to work more and more with color inside of Illustrator, we will find that that just defining color is not enough. It's very rare that you have a single document that only uses one color inside of it, more often we have several colors and these colors need to work with each other. For example, we are all familiar with this concept of colors that clash, colors that just don't look that great when they're put up side-by-side. So one thing that we can do is we can start to categorize colors or put colors into a single group and those colors share some kind of attributes, may be they are all bright colors or maybe they all fit within a certain palette or so on and so forth.

Working with color harmonies

As we start to work more and more with color inside of Illustrator, we will find that that just defining color is not enough. It's very rare that you have a single document that only uses one color inside of it, more often we have several colors and these colors need to work with each other. For example, we are all familiar with this concept of colors that clash, colors that just don't look that great when they're put up side-by-side. So one thing that we can do is we can start to categorize colors or put colors into a single group and those colors share some kind of attributes, may be they are all bright colors or maybe they all fit within a certain palette or so on and so forth.

What we are doing at that point is we're taking different colors and we are stating that these colors somehow belong to each other. In Illustrator, whenever we have this kind of setting where we actually take several colors and we say that these colors belong inside of some kind of a group, we refer to that as a color harmony. Another word that we use some times is something called the color rule. Now for the most part, color harmonies are defined relationships between colors. In other words, there is no such thing as a good harmony or bad harmony.

If I decide to put two colors in my document, blue and green, I am telling Illustrator that now I've created this harmony. That harmony contains the blue color and the green color. But as we are going to find out inside of Illustrator, there are already some basic scientific ways of defining harmonies for colors. For example, complementary colors when mapped onto a color wheel appear completely opposite each other on the color wheel itself. As we are going to find out. we can use this all to our advantage inside of Illustrator. In fact, let me show you. I am going to go here to my SWATCHES panel.

This happens to be working right now on the RGB document and I am going to go over to this color group right over here. It's called the Web Color Group. I am just going to double-click on the folder icon right here and that's going to bring up this Edit Colors dialog box. And we've already seen this color wheel, which right now is set to the HSB color wheel. What I have basically right now is all the colors that appear inside of that group mapped onto this wheel. This right now is a color harmony; there is nothing good or bad about a particular harmony. I just somehow indicated to Illustrator that these colors belong together.

If I am a pretty good designer, I might get a harmony that looks great; if I am a pretty bad designer, I may create colors inside of a harmony that clash with each other. Again, a harmony doesn't mean that the colors look good; a harmony just means that I have some kind of defined relationship between those colors. But I really don't want to focus on this Web Color Group right here, which is actually the default RGB document, when I created this new document. Instead, I want to move over here to the top of this dialog box where I have a little bit of an arrow here. Notice over here there is a setting here called Harmony Rules, and if I click on this, Illustrator shows me a variety actually 23 different types of Harmony Rules.

Let's look at the most basic one right here called Complementary. Complementary is the ability to basically have two colors that are exactly opposite to each other on the color wheel. Now what does this mean exactly that I've defined as harmony? I basically now have these two colors, and as I move one of these colors on the color wheel, Illustrator automatically finds out what the complement of that color is. You see, no matter where I move this, I'm always going to get the complementary color chosen for me automatically. This is a predefined relationship of colors called Complementary, as I choose one color; Illustrator will automatically for me choose its complement.

Let's choose a different harmony here. I am going to go down to, for example, here, Analogous colors. These are colors that have the exact same saturation values, the same basic brightness values, but they have just a little bit of a different hue value. Again, as I move these colors around, I am just really moving one color or what we refer to as my base color, Illustrator is automatically going to identify the other colors that are analogous to that color. Now I could change the base color by clicking on a different one and moving it, but again, notice that they all kind of move together, where Illustrator is always going to give me these analogous values of these five colors.

Now if you'd like, you could spend some time just going to this list and seeing exactly what all of these different harmonies represent. For example, if I choose Tetrad, I actually see that I have one value here, and I get other values some of the exact opposite corners of the color wheel. And as I said earlier, there is no such thing as a good harmony or a bad harmony, it's just some predefined way of describing a relationship between these different colors. Now, I am able to work with these harmonies here inside of Illustrator, because I had this concept of a color wheel.

Right now, we are dealing with generic colors. However, we are going to find out that you can create your own custom harmonies, or you can even have Illustrator make suggestions to you based on the colors that are going to choose. What we get at the end of the day here is an incredibly powerful feature set, about how Illustrator can understand and work with us when it comes to color. And now that we have a better understanding of how Illustrator internally can think about these colors, for example, working with different color models, working with a color wheel in general, and now working with harmonies, we will find that not only is it going to be easier to work with color, it will also be a little bit of fun.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork
Illustrator Insider Training: Coloring Artwork

48 video lessons · 12941 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
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  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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