Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Adjusting colors in Live Trace, part of Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics.
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The Live Trace feature inside of Illustrator allows you to trace your objects using three methods. Those are Black & White, Gray Scale and Color. But when you are using the Color option, Illustrator itself chooses the colors that are used. For example, in this case here, I'll select this photograph, and I'll apply the Color 6 preset. Notice that the colors that are used in this trace here are picked up directly from the image. But I as a user don't really have any control over those colors. For example, maybe I want to use a different shade of color for this guy, or maybe I have a specific palette of colors that I want to use, maybe they are corporate colors, or some of that I have chosen on my own. So let's take a look at how I control colors that are used inside of a Live Trace. Let me move the image just a little bit over here to the side, I'm going to go ahead and expand this panel here, so we can see our swatches.
Now right now we have tons of swatches, which are the default settings here inside of Illustrator, but let's get rid of those. You can delete them simply by dragging them into the Trash icon here, or you could choose this option here called Select All Unused, and then delete them all at once. Choose Yes for that. When you do that method though, there maybe some swatches that's still remaining, and those might be used in graphic styles or symbols or other things that exist inside of Illustrator. So I'll just drag these over here to delete them manually. I'll even get rid of the black and white swatches that exist here as well. So now we have absolutely no swatches whatsoever. I'm going to go here, my object here is selected.
I'm going to simply click on this button to open up my Tracing Options dialog box. I'm going to click on Output to Swatches, and then I'm going to go, click on the Trace button. Notice that now I have six swatches that appear inside of my document, those are the six colors that Illustrator is using for the Live Trace, and they have also been defined as global colors. Even though I can actually click or select any of these paths or regions that are here, because this is still a Live Trace object, I haven't expanded it yet. I can make change to the swatches that are used to draw those objects.
You don't even need to have the object selected at all. Let's go ahead and deselect this right here, and say I wanted to change the color over here using the skin, maybe I want to lighten that up a little up. I'll go over here to the Swatches panel, and I'll double-click on that swatch. That brings up the Swatch Options dialog where I can make changes for that particular color. So let's say I go ahead and I lighten it up just a little bit. I click OK, and now you can see that those changes are made globally inside the trace. Even though when I click on the trace, I can't even select those regions. So this is one way to modify the colors that are applied in a Live Trace. Once I have traced the object, I can make adjustments to the colors that were used when tracing that object, but let's say I want to be proactive.
Let's say I want to feed in colors that I want Live Trace to use. I know in advance maybe, I have a palette of colors that I want to use, and when I create the Live Trace, I want Live Trace to use only those colors. Well, you can easily do that, but the first step is to actually load those libraries first into your document. For example, I come here to the Swatches panel, I click on this lower icon here on the lower left called Swatch Libraries menu, and I'll bring up some other libraries. For example, there is something here called Earthtones. Maybe I want to use some Earthtone colors. I'll go ahead and I'll load some additional libraries as well, let's do Celebration. Then I'll go ahead and I'll bring some nature colors, like maybe beach. That might be really appropriate for this type of an image. And the reality is that if I had my own palettes that I have created maybe using Kuler or on my own for example, I can load those libraries as well.
Once these all appear inside of my documents, I'll now simply go back to the trace itself. I'll select the object, open up the Tracing Options dialog box, and if you will notice over here on the adjustment side of a dialog box, there is a setting here called Palette. Let me click on the Preview button here. Now until now this particular setting has always been set to Automatic. That's because Illustrator was automatically selecting six colors from the image to use in the trace. But since I have loaded these three libraries, the Earthtone, Celebration and Beach libraries in my document, you will notice that now the pop-up list shows them here as well.
So I could choose Celebration, for example, Earthtone, or Beach colors. When I choose this specific palette, the Live Trace feature can only trace objects using any of the colors that are present in the chosen palette. Now these palettes that I have loaded actually have lots of colors inside of them. For example, here for the Beach one, Illustrator is using 57 colors from that palette. Switching back to the Earthtone one for example, it's using 44 colors from that palette. I'll click on the Trace button here to accept that in my trace. But here you can see easily that I could actually feed colors into Live Trace to use in the traced object.
So when it comes to using your own colors in a Live Trace, you have two options. You can either use the Trace Option settings as they are and then modify the colors afterwards, or you can load customized palettes and have the Live Trace feature use those palettes directly.
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