Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating swatches and groups from artwork, part of Illustrator: Coloring Artwork (2011).
So when it comes to working with color inside of Illustrator, we already know how important it is for us to create color groups. Not only does it help us keep our color organized, it also helps Illustrator understand how we want to use that color within the document. However, it's still a manual process to actually create these groups. More importantly, once you have the colors that you want to work with, you want to turn those into swatches that you can also use throughout the rest of your artwork. If you're a real organized person, you might sit down and do that before you get started working on a big project.
However, more often than not you're also working with artwork that others have created, and they may not have created swatches. In fact, they may have just used colors throughout your document and have these phantom colors living around inside the document, or they may have created some swatches, but there's really no intelligent way to understand the relationship between those swatches. That's why it's important to realize that you don't actually have to sit and build the color groups yourself. If you already have the artwork that you want to work with, you can tell Illustrator to automatically generate color groups based on your artwork.
Let me explain what I mean. Right now, I have this document, that's called artwork.ai, and I have several different elements here. In fact, we we've already seen these different colors that I've set up, these different palettes or color ways of different cubes of color, and I may want to use this as a way to define the color groups that I want to create inside of this document. So instead of selecting one of these little rectangles here and then going to the SWATCHES panel and creating a swatch for it, and then doing the same thing for each of these individually, and then creating a new group and dragging those colors into the group, I can do them all at once in the following way: I can select all these elements right now.
I know I've designed these to all work together. So with all these different elements right now selected, I can go to the SWATCHES panel and click on the little Folder icon here, which allows me to create a new color group. Now, in the past what we've done, is we've actually clicked on this button without any artworksselected on the artboard. However, when you have artwork selected, and then you click on this button, Illustrator will assume that the colors that are currently available inside of that artwork are colors that you now wanted to put into this new color group.
So we're actually going to kill several birds with one stone. I am just going to click on this button right here, a dialog box for New Color Group will show up and I will choose to make this my Primary Colors. I want Illustrator to create swatches from the selected artwork. Now, one thing that I can also do is I can tell Illustrator not only just convert that artwork into swatches, but also convert the Process Colors to Global Process Colors. So in this way, I actually, I'm doing many things at once.
I am creating many swatches at the same time, and I'm also turning those swatches into Global Process Swatches. Now, when I click OK, I am also now creating a new group that now contains those colors. You see how easy that was? Let's see how that works now with other kinds of artwork. For example, these aren't just rectangles here; this is some artwork that I've already created. I now want to create a color group that shows me all the colors that are used inside of this piece of artwork. I can select it, go to my Swatches panel, click Create New Color Group, give it a name, let's say I call this one Card, and I can instantly generate a new color group with swatches inside of it for this artwork.
Notice, by the way, there is another option here called Include Swatches for Tints. If, for example, I have a single color, but I have different tints of that color being used in that artwork, I could actually create a separate swatch for each tint value of that color. But again, once I click OK, I now have a color group that's created for me. Note, by the way, that I do now have the color white that appears inside if this color group. That's because white is used inside of this artwork. So Illustrator not only creates the colors that it finds, but if it finds black or white, it'll create swatches for those as well.
And that's important to understand especially when you consider that in many areas of design black and white are treated differently than other colors. For example, if you're just a regular graphic designer, and you're used to doing work in the area of print, you probably think of black as like a key color, and white probably means nothing to you more than paper, whatever color the paper is or whatever none is, is probably what white is. However, if you're an apparel designer and you're thinking about screen printing some ink onto a T-shirt, white actually does have to be printed onto that T-shirt.
So white is a color just like anything else. We'll learn a lot more about how Illustrator treats these colors later on inside of this title. But for now, understand that any color that Illustrator finds inside of your artwork, be it black, white or another color, will be turned into a swatch when you use this method to create color groups. Let's take a look at some other artwork. Here is some artwork right now that has some gradients inside of it. In fact, if I use my Direct Selection tool and I click on this object right here which is filled with a gradient, in my Gradient panel I see that I have several different colors that are being used inside of that gradient.
Now, when I use the same method as we've been doing until now by selecting the artwork and creating a new color group, Illustrator not only is using the colors that it finds inside of that, it also takes the colors that are even being used inside of the gradients itself. Now, this is an important concept to note about working with Illustrator. When I create color groups, I can only put solid colors into that color group. For example, I don't have the ability to have a Gradient Swatch appear inside of a color group.
The color group contains all of the colors that are being used in that piece of artwork even if some of those colors are simply gradient stops within a gradient. However, by definition a gradient usually has more than one color. So I can't put a Gradient Swatch into a group because the gradient represents more than one color. A color group is always going to be collection of individual colors. I think this point will make a little bit more sense when we focus on patterns. For example, right over here I have a single rectangle right now that's filled with a pattern.
I actually want to create a color group that shows me all the colors that are being used inside of that pattern. So with that single object selected, I can now click on this button here to create a New Color Group, click OK, and notice now that all the colors that are being used in that pattern right now appear inside of this color group. I can't have a pattern swatch inside of a color group, because by definition, a pattern swatch probably has more than one color inside of it. Color groups always contain colors, don't think about the method in which the colors are being used, think about the colors themselves.
Each color is something separate. A color group references all the colors that are being used in some kind of artwork whether that artwork is a gradient, a pattern, or any other object inside of Illustrator. In fact, if I were to select a gradient mesh object and turn that into a color group, all the different colors that are being used inside of that gradient mesh will show up as individual swatches inside of this group. So now we understand why color groups are so important inside of Illustrator and we've also identified a way to create color groups in a painless and effective manner.
- 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