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- Getting to know the color models
- Defining and using process and spot colors
- Creating swatches and groups
- Managing a color library
- Getting inspiration from Adobe Kuler
- Setting limits on the Color Guide
- Protecting black, white, and grey
- Making global color adjustments
- Reducing colors
- Converting to grayscale
- Proofing colors
- Previewing color separations
Skill Level Intermediate
So we know that inside of Illustrator we have two ways to define colors. We can have a color that's called a process color, meaning that it's made up of a mixture of primary colors, and then we also have something called the spot color which is a customized color. Now if I actually want to create some artwork and I want to print that on a printing press. If I choose a process color that means that my printer needs to use all of the primary colors in order to generate that color. So, for example, if I am using various percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink that means my printer needs to have four colors on their press in order to create the color that I'm trying to achieve.
However, if I create just a custom color, I could dial in the specific color that I want and I can save some money by having the printer only print just that one color. So instead of paying for four inks, I would just pay for the one ink that I am looking for. So let's say, for example, you have a business card. You want the background of your business card to be red. You don't want to spend money on printing cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks. So you want to just tell the printer, hey, just print the back of my business card using a red color. Now, of course, color itself is subjective.
What I might think is one shade of red, a printer might think of something else, and there are so many different shades and variations of red. So how do I find some way to tell my printer exactly what kind of red I want them to use when he prints my documents? To solve this problem there are some companies out there that create defined libraries of color. They published these libraries and the designer could then choose a specific number out of a book and tell the printer not to print it in red, but to print it using a certain number. For example, Pantone is such a library.
So a designer could tell a printer, print this one card using Pantone 185, which is a red color. Now these color books can be quite expensive. They're still very useful to a designer. However, when defining these colors to actually apply them to your design inside of Illustrator, we don't actually have to go to the books themselves. We can actually pull up those colors here what we call library colors, directly here inside of Illustrator. In fact, a more specific term for these are called book colors, and that's because these colors are found in color books that are published by these companies such as Pantone.
The way to find them inside of Illustrator is to go to your SWATCHES panel, take a look up here in the lower left-hand corner, there's a button here that is called Swatch Libraries menu, and if I click on that I can actually scroll through different color libraries that Illustrator ships with. If I go over here to Color Books, these are companies that publish these different types of colors that belong into these libraries that both designers and printers can use. Now across the world there are different companies that provide these books. In the U.S. and in Europe Pantone is used a lot, but you will also find that, for example, in Japan, there are companies called Toyo.
There are also things called the HKS, for example. I am going to focus on the use here on Pantone colors. Now Pantone publishes different types of libraries. They have colors that are kind of belonging to specific needs or design uses. For example, they have an entire library of metallic colors. These are colors that have little bits of metal that are actually mixed into the ink itself to give that ink some kind of a sheen when it gets printed on paper. Now the most common library found in Pantone is something called Pantone solid colors.
These are colors that are used by all kinds of designers and Pantone publishes different versions of the solid colors, something called coated or matte or uncoated. But in reality the numbers themselves are the same across all these different libraries. You would just choose coated, matte or uncoated based on the type of paper that you're actually going to be printing on. I'll be honest with you though, it really doesn't make a difference which version you. So I just kind of make consistent and I always just use Pantone solid coated even if you're going to be printing on a matte or uncoated paper stock, it's still going to be okay for you to choose a color from this library.
So by choosing this option here, Pantone solid coated I am now going to bring up now a separate panel here that contains all of the Pantone library colors inside of the solid coated library and I'm now able to move any of these colors into my document. So let's first understand exactly this concept of a library inside of Illustrator. I am obviously planning on using a few of these Pantone colors in my document, but I certainly don't need all of them. So I don't want to weigh down my document by bringing in every single Pantone color from this library, and even more so, I don't want there to be any confusion inside of my document, because I want people to quickly understand what colors are being used in this document.
I don't want to have tons of swatches in my document that I'm not planning on using. Now the majority of times that I'm using Pantone colors, I either already know what number I want to actually access, or I am probably choosing the colors itself from one of Pantone's books. So it's rare that I am going to choose the Pantone color here based on all of the colors that I see here. In theory, I can make this window a lot larger and see a lot of these colors here, but I'm not really going to choose a color based on these. So to be honest with you, it's not really as useful for me to see the colors in this way.
So when I am actually going through the Pantone solid coated library, what I like to do is go to the flyout menu over here and turn on several options. First of all, instead of viewing these as thumbnails, I like to see these in the small list view. This way I got to actually see the actual numbers and names of all these colors. Next, because there are thousands of colors inside of this Pantone library, I wanted to be easy for me to jump to a specific color that I know that I want to use. So to do that I am going to go back to the flyout menu here, and I am going to choose to Show the Find Field.
To be honest with you, since designers more often than not already know the numbers of the Pantone colors that they want to use, I really wish that the Find field would actually be on by default, when you open up the panel to begin with. So now, for example, as I discussed earlier on maybe I want to use Pantone 185 in my document. I happen to know that's a red color only because I've been using Pantone for many years. So what I can do now is instead of scrolling through this list, simply put my cursor here into the Find field and type in the value of 185.
Notice over here it jumps right to this. When I click on it, it will now get added to the SWATCHES panel here inside of my documents. It's important to realize right now that this library here is giving me access to the colors, but it doesn't mean that all of these colors now already live inside of my document. Once I've added that swatch to my document and I know that; that's the only Pantone color that I want to use, I could simply close this panel and it goes away. Now while I'm here, let me show you something interesting about the Find function here inside of the Pantone library.
The way that Illustrator searches through these numbers can sometimes cause some issues when you're trying to find a specific number. Let's say, for example, my client requests that I use Pantone 245. So all I would need to do is go to my Find field here and type in 245, but notice when I do that, and actually it jumps to Pantone 1245, not 245. How can I actually get to Pantone 245? I don't want to have to scroll through my whole list and more importantly, if I type in 245, why does Illustrator give me 1245? Well, the answer is that when I type in 245, Illustrator stars doing a search through all the numbers until it finds those three numbers in a row.
Now because Pantone 1245 starts with a 1, that actually shows up in the search list before it gets to 245 which starts with the number 2. That's why Illustrator thinks that I'm looking for 1245 even when I know that I am looking for Pantone 245. So to get around this problem if you know they have a number and you're having a hard time finding it, go ahead and highlight the value here and instead of searching for 245 do a search for space 45. In doing so I avoid the issue where Illustrator finds the 1 before it finds the 2 and it jumps directly and add a Pantone 245.
So if you're having trouble finding a specific number in the library, go ahead and type in a space before you type in the value and that should help you out. Now depending on what kind of design industry you're in, there maybe additional color libraries that you may want to access. For example, Pantone publishes not just the solid colors which are used mostly for print; they also publish an entire library of colors that are used in apparel design. Sometimes you may need to purchase those libraries separately from Pantone, other times you can do a Google search and you can actually those libraries and download them to your computer and you can then open them inside of Illustrator.
The way that you would do that is again you'd come down to the SWATCHES panel here and click on this Library button, but instead of choosing Color Books over your would actually scroll down further to the bottom, where it says Other Library. You would then point to some location on your hard drive of where that library exists. It's probably going to be just a regular plain Illustrator file and that would now open up another window with those colors inside of it. In fact, there are even ways to create your own customized libraries inside Illustrator. That's something that we will actually start covering in the next chapter when we talk about color organization.
At this point, however, and you should have a solid understanding of what a process and a spot color is, and also how you can access a specific Color Book libraries such as Pantone here inside of Illustrator.
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