Adjust colors

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Shift an out-of-gamut color to a printable color

Some colors in the RGB and HSB color models, such as neon colors, cannot be printed, because they have no equivalents in the CMYK model. If you select an out-of-gamut color, an alert triangle  appears in the Color panel or Color Picker.

  1. Click the triangle to shift to the closest CMYK equivalent (which is displayed in a small box by the triangle).

Shift a color to a web-safe color

Web-safe colors are the 216 colors used by all browsers, regardless of the platform. If you select a color that is not web-safe, an alert cube  appears in the Color panel, Color Picker, or Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box.

  1. Click the cube to shift to the closest web-safe color (which is displayed in a small box by the cube).

Blend colors

The Blend commands create a series of intermediate colors from a group of three or more filled objects, based on the objects’ vertical or horizontal orientation, or on their stacking order. Blending does not affect strokes or unpainted objects.

  1. Select three or more filled objects.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To fill the intermediate objects with graduated blends between the frontmost and backmost filled objects, choose Edit > Edit Colors > Blend Front To Back.

    • To fill the intermediate objects with graduated blends between the leftmost and rightmost filled objects, choose Edit > Edit Colors > Blend Horizontally.

    • To fill the intermediate objects with graduated blends between the topmost and bottommost filled objects, choose Edit > Edit Colors > Blend Vertically.

Change a color to its inverse or complement

  1. Select the color you want to change.

  2. In the Color panel, select an option from the panel menu:

    Invert

    Changes each component of a color to the opposite value on the color scale. For example, if an RGB color has an R value of 100, the Invert command will change the R value to 155 (255 – 100 = 155).

    Complement

    Changes each component of a color to a new value based on the sum of the highest and lowest RGB values in the selected color. Illustrator adds the lowest and highest RGB values of the current color, and then subtracts the value of each component from that number to create new RGB values. For example, suppose you select a color with an RGB value of 102 for red, 153 for green, and 51 for blue. Illustrator adds the high (153) and low (51) values, to end up with a new value (204). Each of the RGB values in the existing color is subtracted from the new value to create new complementary RGB values: 204 – 102 (the current red value) = 102 for the new red value, 204 – 153 (the current green value) = 51 for the new green value, and 204 – 51 (the current blue value) = 153 for the new blue value.

Change the tint of a color

  1. Select a global process color or spot color in the Swatches panel, or select an object to which you’ve applied a global process color or spot color.

  2. In the Color panel, drag the T slider or enter a value in the text box to modify the color’s intensity. The tint range is from 0% to 100%; the lower the number, the lighter the tint will be.

    Note:

    If you don’t see the T slider, make sure that you have a global process color or spot color selected. If you still don’t see the T slider, choose Show Options from the Color panel menu.

  3. To save the tint as a swatch, drag the color to the Swatches panel, or click the New Swatch button in the Swatches panel. The tint is saved with the same name as the base color, but with the tint percentage added to the name. For example, if you saved a color named “Sky Blue” at 50 percent, the swatch name would be “Sky Blue 50%.”

Invert multiple colors

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to invert.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Invert Colors.

    Note:

    You can use the Color panel to invert individual colors.

Adjust color balance of one or more colors

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to adjust.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Color Balance.

  3. Set the Fill and Stroke options.

  4. Adjust the color values, and then click OK:

    • If you selected any global process colors or spot colors, use the tint slider to adjust the intensity of the colors. Any nonglobal process colors you selected are not affected.

    • If you are working in CMYK color mode and selected nonglobal process colors, use the sliders to adjust the percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

    • If you are working in RGB color mode and selected nonglobal process colors, use the sliders to adjust the percentages of red, green, and blue.

    • If you want to convert the colors you selected to grayscale, select Grayscale from the Color Mode list and select the Convert option. Then use the slider to adjust the percentage of black.

    • If you selected any global process or spot colors and you want to convert them to nonglobal process colors, select either CMYK or RGB from the Color Mode list (depending on the color mode of the document) and select the Convert option. Then use the sliders to adjust the colors.

Change the color mode of a document

  1. Choose File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color or RGB Color.

Display and output spot colors using Lab values

Some predefined spot colors, such as colors from the TOYO, PANTONE, DIC, and HKS libraries, are defined using Lab values. For backward compatibility with previous versions of Illustrator, colors from these libraries also include CMYK definitions. The Swatches panel lets you control which values, Lab or CMYK, Illustrator uses to display, export, and print these spot colors.

Lab values, when used in conjunction with the correct device profiles, give you the most accurate output across all devices. If color management is critical to your project, Adobe recommends that you display, export, and print spot colors using their Lab values.

Note:

To improve on‑screen accuracy, Illustrator uses the Lab values automatically if Overprint Preview is on. It also uses Lab values when printing if you’ve selected Simulate for the Overprints option in the Advanced area of the Print dialog box.

  1. Choose Spot Colors from the Swatches panel menu.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select Use Standard Lab Values Specified By The Book Manufacturer if you want the most accurate display and output of colors.

    • Select Use CMYK Values From The Manufacturer’s Process Book if you want spot colors to match earlier versions of Illustrator.

Convert color to grayscale and vice versa

Convert colors to grayscale

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to convert.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Convert To Grayscale.

    Note:

    Use the Edit > Edit Colors> Adjust Colors command to convert objects to grayscale and adjust the shades of gray at the same time.

Convert grayscale images to RGB or CMYK

  1. Select the grayscale image.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Convert To CMYK or Convert To RGB (depending on the color mode of the document).

Colorize grayscale or 1-bit images

  1. Select the bitmap object.

  2. Make sure the Fill button in the Tools panel or Color panel is selected.

  3. Use the Color panel to color the image with black, white, a process color, or a spot color.

    Note:

    If a grayscale image contains an alpha channel, you cannot colorize the image with a process color. Select a spot color instead.

Adjust the saturation of multiple colors

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to adjust.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Saturate.

  3. Enter a value from –100% to 100% to specify the percentage by which to decrease or increase the color or the spot-color tint.

Mix overlapping colors

You can use blending modes, the Hard Mix effect, or the Soft Mix effect to mix overlapping colors.

Blending modes

Provide many options for controlling overlapping colors, and should always be used in place of Hard Mix and Soft Mix for artwork containing spot colors, patterns, gradients, text, or other complex artwork.

Hard Mix effect

Combines colors by choosing the highest value of each of the color components. For example, if Color 1 is 20% cyan, 66% magenta, 40% yellow, and 0% black; and Color 2 is 40% cyan, 20% magenta, 30% yellow, and 10% black, the resulting hard color is 40% cyan, 66% magenta, 40% yellow, and 10% black.

Soft Mix effect

Makes the underlying colors visible through the overlapping artwork, and then divides the image into its component faces. You specify the percentage of visibility you want in the overlapping colors.

You can apply blending modes to individual objects, whereas you must apply the Hard Mix and Soft Mix effects to entire groups or layers. Blending modes affect both the fill and stroke of an object, whereas the Hard and Soft Mix effects result in removal of an object’s stroke.

Note:

In most cases, applying the Hard Mix or Soft Mix effect to objects painted using a mix of process and spot colors converts the color to CMYK. In the case of mixing a non-global process RGB color with a spot RGB color, all spot colors are converted to a non-global process RGB color.

Mix colors using the Hard Mix effect

  1. Target the group or layer.

  2. Choose Effect > Pathfinder > Hard Mix.

Mix colors using the Soft Mix effect

  1. Target the group or layer.

  2. Choose Effect > Pathfinder > Soft Mix.

  3. Enter a value between 1% and 100% in the Mixing Rate text box to determine the percentage of visibility you want in the overlapping colors, and click OK.

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