Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Mixing and matching color harmonies, part of Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced.
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Now that you know how the harmony rules work, I'm going to show you how to violate those rules by combining colors from multiple different harmonies; because after all there's nothing that says you have to color your artwork in lockstep with a single color harmony. Color is altogether subjective, so you should feel free to go your own way; and I'll also show you how to adjust a few settings inside the Color Guide panel. So, I'm going to start things off by, let's say, selecting these dark leaves over here in the left-hand Artboard. And notice that even though I've selected these dark brown objects, I'm still seeing color harmonies based on the blue of the T-shirt, and I'll continue to do so as long as I don't click on this base color to change it.
So I'll start things off by clicking on the down-pointing arrowhead and I'm going to switch, let's say, to Compound 2, because I like the shade of yellow right there. And now I'll go ahead and click on yellow in order to apply it to the selected artwork. Now I'll click on the beige leaves and I'll switch by Harmony Rule to High Contrast 1, because I like that shade of red right there, so I'll go ahead and click on it to apply it. And then next I'll click this background rectangle and I'll switch to Compound 1 looks like the way to go. And I'll select one of these lighter tints of this orange right here; that actually looks pretty great.
Now I'm going to select my black objects, and if you take a close look at them--I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac in order to hide those selection edges and then zoom in--you can see that we have a little bit of light fringe around these objects; and that indicates that we have a weak black that's jutting up against some CMY values here, so we might end up having a little bit of a trapping problem. And so to illuminate that, I'll click on Opacity up here in the Control panel, and I'll change the Blend mode from Normal to Multiply; and that'll go ahead and burn those black objects into the background.
All right, now I am going to switchover to the second Artboard here by pressing Ctrl+0 to zoom out, Command+0 on the Mac, and then Shift+Page Down to advance to the next page. And I think this time-around I want to go with more of a green scheme, so I'll select the background rectangle, and I am not seeing any selection edges, because I hid them. So I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+ H on the Mac to bring it back. Apparently I don't have anything selected, as indicated by No Selection on the far left side of the Control panel; so I'll try clicking again, and this time I managed to grab the rectangle.
All right, so I know I'm hunting for a green; obviously this harmony isn't going to work, so I'll click the down-pointing arrowhead and I'll switch to Tetrad 3. I'd say that looks pretty good, and then I'll click on that central green in order to apply it. Now by defaults we're seeing shades and tints as I mentioned a couple of movies ago, but you don't have to stick with that. You've got two other options available to you. If you click on the fly-out menu icon, you'll see that you also have the option of showing Warm and Cool; so we'll see warm variations on the colors over here on the left-hand side; and finally you've got Vivid/Muted, which should really be called Muted/Vivid, because after all the muted versions of the colors--the low-saturation versions--are shown over here on the left inside, and vivid high-saturation variations are shown on the right-hand side.
Here's something else you can do. If you click on the fly-out menu icon again and choose Color Guide Options, then you can change the number of swatches that you see inside the panel, as well as how much variation occurs between the swatches. By default it's cranked up to 100%, that is, all the way to More. If you take it all the way down to Less, you'll see a preview in real-time over here inside the Color panel. Aand you'll also see that there are no variations going on whatsoever; every single one of those swatches in each row are identical, so you don't want to take the variation value down this far, in other words.
You want it to have some variation, some percentage going on. But I'm going to go ahead and crank it all the way back to 100%, because I like that; but I might increase the number of steps. You can take this value incidentally as high as 20 steps, and then you'll have these teeny little tiny swatches here; it's probably a few too many. I might take mine up to 5, however. And notice that the swatch is updated in real-time right there inside the panel. All right, now I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept that slight change, and I'll click in one of these gray leaves--these dark gray leaves--in order to select them; and I'll switch my Harmony Rule once again to try it to this time-around. And by the way, you do not need to follow along in lockstep with me anymore than you do with a specific harmony rule, I definitely encourage you to go your own way.
Anyway I'm going to try out one of these muted greens, let's say, in the second-to-last row. That looks pretty good to me. And then I'll click on one of the light gray objects and I'll change it to, let's say, a higher-saturation version of this red, in order to create this effect here, which I am really liking. All right, now I'll go ahead and select these background objects, the black ones, and I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac, so I can keep track of what I'm doing. And I think I'll switch harmonies again back to let's say Tetrad 2; works out beautifully. And I'll click in one of these low-saturation oranges right there in order to lighten up those dark objects. And if I want to create an interaction between the selection and the green background, then I would click on Opacity and change the Blend mode once again to Multiply.
And now I can continue to fool around with the color, I might say, you know, gosh! I'd like to try out one of these low saturation purples instead, and come up with this effect here. Now I'll go ahead and press Shift+Tab in order to hide my right side panel, so that we can check out both versions of the artwork at the same time. And that's how you color your artwork any way you like using as many harmony rules as you see fit here inside Illustrator.
- Installing dekeKeys, Deke's free custom keyboard shortcuts
- Understanding the color-managed workflow
- Creating a multicolor blend
- Establishing a clipping mask
- Blending different levels of opacity
- Combining a letterform with a path outline
- Warping logo type around a circle
- Adding neon blur and bokeh in Photoshop
- Mixing and matching color harmonies
- Recoloring artwork
- Working with the Calligraphic, Scatter, and Art Brushes
- Creating translucency
- Editing attributes in the Appearance panel
- Adjusting and updating dynamic effects