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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
When it comes to using Illustrator, I actually started out doing something called art production. That's where I had to work with files that were already designed, but I had to get them ready for print. I had to make sure that all the colors were correct and that everything in the file was going to work wonderfully when it was handed off to a printer. So from a personal perspective, I am extremely appreciative of some of the wonderful things that Recolor Artwork does from a purely print production perspective. Meaning, how can I take a look at the colors used in this file and make sure that everything is right? You know one of the things that we as designers do before getting files ready for print is we want to make sure that all the colors are correct.
In this example right here, I have some colors that are being used and I also have the color black that's being used. It's possible throughout the design that there may be different kinds of blacks used; we know that sometimes for printing, we create something called a Rich Black. That's where we actually take black itself, but we add additional colors to it like additional values of cyan, magenta and yellow, so that the Black appears even blacker when printed on press. You can see that in this document right here, I have a regular black swatch, where if I double-click on it to see what actually it's made of, I can see that the value here is set to a 100% black, but nothing else.
Let me click Cancel here. I've also created another swatch inside of this document, which I've renamed Rich Black and if I double-click on it, I see that I have used values of 60% cyan and 40% of magenta and yellow in addition to the 100% black. Now many times designers want to use these Rich Blacks to get a much nicer look in the final print of your design. However, just by looking at my artwork right now on the screen, how do I know that all these blacks are actually set to use that Rich Black? Maybe there are some files here that are just using the other black swatch.
On top of that, because Black is sometimes just hard to see on my screen, I may not know if somebody has just even one percentage off. For example, if I click on this shape right here I am using my white arrow. I just click on the center dot right here of this piece of artwork. I can actually see that this piece of art is set to 95% black. So it really should be black, but right now it's going to print as a very, very dark gray. So how can I quickly go through my file and make sure that all the colors are correct? Well, let me show you how to use Recolor Artwork, not necessarily as a creative tool, but more of a production tool to make sure that your file is going to print correctly.
Now I am going to start out by using my regular selection tool and I'll press Command+A to select all of my artwork. Again, here I want to make it change to any artwork that appears throughout my entire file. I am also going to zoom out just a bit, press Command+Minus here or a Ctrl+Minus on my keyboard and I'll just move this over here to the upper left, so that I have room to see my recolor artwork dialog box. Now I'll click on little color chip here to open up this dialog and actually before I do anything, when I scroll down here to the bottom you can see that black and white over here by default are protected.
I really don't want to protect any colors here; I want to see everything inside of my document. So the first thing I am actually going to do is I am going to this little pop-up right here where it says Color Reduction Options, and I'm going to uncheck Preserve White and uncheck Preserve Black, then I am going to click OK. Many times what I do to try to keep things fresh, especially I have to make a preference change like that, and so I actually Cancel out of the dialog box, and then I re-launch the dialog box once again. This way when I scroll down here I can see that black and white are no longer protected.
Now I could actually see just by looking at this file that I have several different shades of what might look like black, but these are actually gray. I have one black over here, I have another black over here, and I have like these really dark shades of gray over here and all of these should really be black. And on top of that I also want all them to be Rich Black. Now how do I know which one I'm dealing with here? Well, if I click on this one right here and I set my slider here to be the CMYK sliders, I could see that this object right here is actually filled with a semi-Rich Black.
Maybe I actually copy and pasted some artwork from another document or more likely maybe another designer sometime in his design process actually wanted to create their own Rich Black and they thought Rich Black was just adding 40% cyan, which may have been the norm for many years ago, but nowadays presses can handle more coverage, so Rich Blacks these days are usually ones that use values from all of different colors on all four plates. If I click on this black over here I see this one is just simply 100% black, and then I have some objects that are apparently are filled with 95% gray and some of them even have 90% gray.
Now my first thought here might just be where actually are these pieces of artwork being used, where are these colors used in my artwork? So again, I could use the magnifying glass to help me out. I can see just by selecting this color right here that this text where it says, hansel & petal is colored with 90% gray. If I click on this object right here, I see that this piece of artwork is filled with 95% gray. If I click here, I can see the other words that they hansel & petal and if I click on this object I see that right now that's currently the Semi Rich Black.
But I want to turn all these into a Rich Black as well. So here is what I am going to do. I am going to take this gray color right here and drag it up into this color row. Again, that means that I am telling Illustrator I want both of these colors to now be remapped to one new color. Don't worry about the new color yet, we are not up to that that point. But I have other colors that I also want to combine with that. So I am going to take this gray color, drag that up into this color row, and finally I'll take this gray color and also drag that into the color row. So now I have four different shades of black.
If you want to think about it that way, that I now want to have them all remapped to one new color, I want them to all be a Rich Black. So I am going to double-click now on the new color. I'll go to color swatches and I'll choose my Rich Black color and click OK. Now all these four grays or blacks here are all going to get remapped to one new Rich Black color. I am going to turn off the magnifying glass here and I just need to do one additional thing here to make sure that my colors print correctly.
You see right now I have four different shades of black and that's going to get remapped to one new black. But by default, Illustrator uses something called a Colorization method to take the four different shades of black and generate four different tint values of my new color. We'll actually talk about this concept of colorization methods a little bit later in this chapter. But for now I am going to go to this little arrow that appears in the right side of this color row next to the new color. I am going to click on it and I am going to choose this option called Exact.
You can see even over here on my screen that I still see a differentiation between the four different shades of black that I'm dealing with. However, if I choose Exact I'm basically telling Illustrator take all these four different shades and convert them to one solid shade of the new color. So I am going to choose the exact option here and I can just simply click off of it to get rid of that. So what I've just done now is I've gone through my entire document, I've identified any colors that really should all be now the same color. I had some rogue gray colors here.
They now have all been converted to a Rich Black color without me having to worry about selecting all these things and trying to find them in my document. In fact, I've noticed one other interesting thing here. If I scroll down to the bottom of the list, because I don't have whites protected either, I actually see that there are two different kind of whites used in this document. That can happen for many different reasons. Either I started at a white color that may have be from an RGB document that got converted, or sometimes if you are a fashion designer you may have different kinds of whites that exists inside of your document.
That's because each of those whites may refer to a different type of color that you're applying to a garment. Even still when I create separations, I am not really going to have a problem here. Again, granted that those colors are not spot colors. But still if I want to clean things up inside of my document, I can combine both of these whites by dragging one into the other. Now I am basically telling Illustrator, take these two white colors and have them all now be remapped to one new white color, and if I want to make sure that it's the white color that's in my document, I can double-click here, go to Color Swatches and choose white in my document.
So now I've been able to clean up the colors in my document, I am going to click OK and I'm left now with a document that's perfectly ready to go to print. Any blacks or even dark grays that I found I've been able to convert to a Rich Black and I've ensured that there are no duplications of colors inside of my document. Once again, Recolor Artwork is a great way to check the colors inside of your document and making the necessary changes before you're ready to send it off for print.