A color group is an organization tool that lets you group together related color swatches in the Swatches panel. In addition, a color group can be a container for color harmonies, which you create using the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box or the Color Guide panel. Color groups can contain only solid colors that include spot, process, or global colors. Gradients and patterns cannot be grouped.
You can use the Color Guide panel or the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box to create harmonious color groups. Using either feature, you can choose a harmony rule to instantly generate a color scheme based on any color you want. For example, choose the Monochromatic harmony rule to create a color group containing all the same hue, but with different saturation levels. Or choose the High Contrast or Pentagram harmony rule to create a color group with contrasting colors for more visual impact.
For inspiration, to share color harmonies, or to create color groups outside Illustrator, choose Window > Adobe Color Themes and click through the different color harmonies available.
For more information, see the Color Themes website at https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/.
Use the Color Guide panel as a tool for color inspiration while you create your artwork. The Color Guide panel suggests harmonious colors based on the current color in the Tools panel. You can use these colors to color artwork, or you can edit them in the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box, or save them as swatches or swatch groups in the Swatches panel.
You can manipulate the colors that the Color Guide panel generates in several ways, including changing the harmony rule, or adjusting the variation type (such as tints and shades or vivid and muted), and the number of variation colors that appear.
Note: If you have artwork selected, clicking a color variation changes the color of the selected artwork, just like clicking a swatch in the Swatches panel.
To edit the selected color group, make sure that no artwork is selected and click the Edit Colors button . To edit the selected color group and apply the edits to selected artwork, click the Edit Or Apply Colors button . For more information, see Edit colors in the Edit Colors dialog box.
Decreases the saturation toward gray in variations on the left and increases saturation toward gray in variations on the right
If you’re using spot colors, use only the Tints/Shades variation and choose colors from the tint (right) side of the variation grid. All other variations cause spot colors to be converted to process.
Specify the number of colors you want to appear to the left and right of each color in the generated color group. For example, choose 6 if you want to see six shades darker and six shades lighter of each color.
The original colors always appear down the center of the panel with a triangle directly above them, and the variations on those colors appear to the left and right of them.
The name of this dialog box changes depending on context:
When you have artwork selected and you access the dialog box by clicking the icon in the Control panel, Swatches panel, or Color Guide panel, or when you choose Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork, the dialog box opens as the Recolor Artwork dialog box and you have access to the Assign tab and the Edit tab.
When you do not have artwork selected and you access the dialog box by clicking the icon in the Control panel, Swatches panel, or Color Guide panel, the dialog box opens as the Edit Colors dialog box and you have access to the Edit tab only.
Regardless of which name appears at the top of the dialog box, the right side of it always displays the color groups for the current document, along with two default color groups: Print Color and Grayscale. You can select and use these color groups at anytime.
A. Create and edit a color group in the Edit tab B. Assign colors in the Assign tab C. Select a color group from the Color Groups list
The Recolor Art option at the bottom of the dialog box lets you preview colors on selected artwork, and specifies whether artwork is recolored when you close the dialog box.
The main areas of the dialog box are:
Use the Edit tab to create new color groups or edit existing color groups. Use the Harmony Rules menu and the color wheel to experiment with color harmonies. The color wheel shows you how colors in a harmony are related, while the color bars let you see and manipulate individual color values. In addition, you can adjust brightness, add and remove colors, save color groups, and preview the colors on selected artwork.
Use the Assign tab to view and control how colors from a color group replace original colors in your artwork. You can assign colors only if you have artwork selected in the document. You can specify which new colors replace which current colors, whether spots are preserved, and how colors are replaced (for example, you can replace colors entirely or replace hue while retaining brightness). Use Assign to control how artwork is recolored with the current color group or to reduce the number of colors in the current artwork.
Lists all saved color groups for the open document (these same color groups appear in the Swatches panel). While in the dialog box, you can edit, delete, and create new color groups using the Color Groups list. All your changes are reflected in the Swatches panel. The selected color group denotes which color group is currently being edited. You can select any color group and edit it or use it to recolor selected artwork. Saving a color group adds the group to this list.
Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork or Recolor With Presets command
Use these commands when you want to edit colors in selected artwork.
Recolor Artwork button in Control panel
Use this button when you want to edit the colors of the selected artwork using the Recolor Artwork dialog box. This button is available when the selected artwork contains two or more colors.
note: Editing colors this way is a convenient way to globally adjust colors in artwork when global colors weren't used in the artwork's creation.
Edit Colors or Edit Or Apply Colors button in Color Guide panel
Click this button when you want to edit the colors in the Color Guide panel, or edit and then apply the colors in the Color Guide panel to selected art.
Edit Color Group or Edit Or Apply Color Group button in Swatches panel
Click this button when you want to edit the colors in the selected color group, or when you want to edit the colors and apply them to the selected artwork. You can also double-click a color group in the Swatches panel to open the dialog box.
To show or hide the Color Group list, click the Hide Color Group Storage icon on the right side of the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box. To display the list again, click the icon again.
To add a new color group to this list, create or edit a color group, and then click New Color Group . A new color group appears in the list.
To edit a color group, click it in the list to select it. Change the color group using the Edit tab, and then click Save Changes To Color Group .
To delete a color group, select it and click Delete ColorGroup .
You can create color groups using the Color Guide panel or the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box. You can also create and share color groups on the Adobe Color Themes website.
Make sure that no artwork is selected when you set the base color; otherwise, the selected artwork will change to the base color.
Open the Color Guide panel, and do any of the following to set the base color for the color harmony:
Click a color swatch in the Swatches panel.
Click a color in the Color panel. (You may want to drag out the Color panel so that you can use it along with the Color Guide panel.)
Double-click the Fill Color in the Tools panel and pick a color in the Color Picker.
Using the eyedropper, click artwork containing the color you want.
Select artwork containing the color you want, and then click the Set Base Color To The Current Color icon .
Click a color variation in the Color Guide panel, and then click the Set Base Color To The Current Color icon .
To save the current color group in the Color Guide panel, click the Save Color Group To Swatches Panel button .
To save one or more color variations as individual swatches, drag the colors from the Color Guide panel to the Swatches panel.
To save multiple color variations as a group, select them in the Color Guide panel and click the Save Color Group To Swatches Panel button .
To name the new group, select the group in the Swatches panel and choose Color Group Options from the panel menu.
To upload your color group swatch to the Adobe Color CC website, select it and choose Window > Adobe Color Themes. In the panel, click Upload . You must sign in using your Adobe ID to upload swatches.
To color your artwork with a color from the color group, select your artwork and click any color in the Color Guide panel.
To color all objects in a grouped object, select it, choose Edit > Recolor Artwork, and specify options in the Recolor Artwork dialog box. (See Assign colors to your artwork.)
You create a color group in the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box by choosing a base color and a harmony rule. The harmony rule uses the base color as the basis for generating the colors in the color group. For example, if you choose a blue base color and the Complementary harmony rule, a color group is created using the base color, blue, and its complement, red.
As you manipulate the colors in the color wheel, the selected harmony rule continues to govern the colors that are generated for the group. To break the harmony rule and edit the colors freely, click the Unlink button .
You can also create a color group by using the Color Guide. (See Create a color group in the Color Guide panel.)
Editing colors in the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box is a convenient way to globally adjust the colors in selected artwork. It is especially useful when global colors weren't originally used in the artwork’s creation. You can edit colors and color groups in the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box and apply your edits to selected artwork, or save the edited colors for later use.
When editing colors, you use the smooth color wheel, the segmented color wheel, or the color bars.
Smooth color wheel
Displays hue, saturation, and brightness in a smooth continuous circle. Each color in the current color group is drawn on the wheel inside a circle. This wheel lets you choose from numerous colors with great precision, but it can be hard to see individual colors because every pixel is a different color.
Segmented color wheel
Displays colors as a set of segmented color patches. This wheel makes it easy to see individual colors, but doesn’t provide as many colors to choose from as the continuous wheel.
Displays only colors from the color group. They appear as solid bars of color that you can select and edit individually. You can reorganize colors in this display by dragging and dropping color bars to the left or right. You can right-click a color and choose to remove it, set it as the base color, change its shade, or change it using the Color Picker.
Before you start editing your color groups, make sure that you know how to save your changes correctly so you don’t inadvertently overwrite your favorite color group! You have two options when saving your changes: you can overwrite the original color group with the edited color group, or you can create a new color group with the changes, leaving the original intact.
If you have selected an object on the artboard, click Recolor Art to preview the colors on the artwork. If you don’t want to recolor the artwork, deselect Recolor Art before closing the dialog box, or click Cancel to close it.
To edit the colors of the selected artwork, click Get Colors From Selected Art .
Drag a marker on the wheel to change its color. If the harmony is linked, all the colors move according to the rule as you drag. If the harmony is unlinked, only the marker that you drag moves.
While editing, you can do any of the following:
- To change hue, move the marker around the wheel. To change saturation or brightness, move it inward and outward on the wheel.
- To change hue, move the marker around the wheel. To change saturation or brightness, move it inward and outward on the wheel.
- To add a color, right-click in the color wheel where you want to add the color and choose Add New Color.
- To remove a color, right-click on the color marker (or the line of the marker) in the color wheel and choose Remove Color.
- To see hue and saturation instead of hue and brightness on the wheel, click the Show Saturation And Hue On The Wheel button , directly below the wheel to toggle between the two views.
- To change the color values manually, click the color marker or click the color in the Active Colors box. Edit the color values using the sliders or color value text boxes under the color wheel.
To ensure that the colors are in gamut or web safe, select each color marker and click the Out Of Gamut or Out Of Web buttons as necessary.
When you use a harmony rule to create a color group, the colors are linked by default. When a color group is linked, editing one color changes the other colors according to the harmony rule. To edit one color without changing the others, unlink the color markers from the harmony rule.
Drag the color marker you want to edit to set a new color.
Click the color bar or color marker you want to change and manually edit the color values.
Double-click (or right-click) the color bar or marker and choose a new color in the Color Picker.
Right-click a color marker or color bar and pick a new shade.
In the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box, you can explore random variations of the current color group by using the Randomly Assign Brightness And Saturation button and the Randomly Change Color Order button.
To shuffle the order of the current color group, click Randomly Change Color Order . Use this button when recoloring artwork to quickly explore the different ways artwork can be recolored with the current color group.
To randomly change the brightness and saturation of the current color group while retaining the hues, click Randomly Changes Saturation and Brightness .
To add a color to the color group, right-click in the color wheel where you want to add the color and choose Add New Color. If you click the line of an existing color marker, the new marker moves with that marker.
To remove a color, right-click the color marker or color bar and choose Remove Color. You cannot remove the base color marker.
note: In the color wheel, you can also use the Add Color Tool button or the Remove Color Tool button , and then click in the color wheel on the color you want to add or remove.
To remove a color from a color group in the Color Groups list, expand the color group, right-click the color swatch you want to remove, and choose Remove Color.
The Assign tab of the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box lets you assign colors from a color group to your artwork. You can assign colors in the following ways:
Assign new colors to your artwork using a color group from the Color Groups list.
Assign new colors to your artwork using a new color group chosen from the Harmony Rules menu.
Reassign current artwork colors among themselves. You can reset the Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box so that the artwork is displayed with its original colors by clicking Get Colors From Selected Art .
Using the Current Colors and New columns, you control how colors are assigned. When you select Recolor Art, the selected artwork is recolored with the active color group according to the columns assignments.
If you create a color group, you can click Edit to fine-tune the colors, and then click Assign. Or, if you want to adjust a few colors in the selected artwork, select the color you want to adjust and edit it with the color sliders.
To assign a current color to a different color, drag the current color up or down in the Current Colors column until it’s adjacent to the new color you want.
Tip: If a row contains multiple colors and you want to move them all, click the selector bar at the left of the row and drag up or down.
To assign a new color to a different row of current colors, drag the new color up or down in the New column. (To add a new color to or remove a color from the New column, right-click in the list and choose Add New Color or Remove Color.)
To change a color in the New column, right-click it and choose Color Picker to set a new color.
To exclude a row of current colors from being reassigned, click the arrow between the columns. To include it again, click the dash.
To exclude a single current color from being reassigned, right-click the color and choose Exclude Colors, or click the icon .
To randomly reassign colors, click the Randomly Change Color Order button . The new colors move randomly to different rows of current colors.
To add a row to the Current Colors column, right-click and choose Add New Row, or click the icon .
To separate colors into separate rows, select the color block you want to move and right-click and choose Separate Colors Into Different Rows, or click the icon .
To merge colors into one row, Shift-click to select multiple colors, and then right-click and choose Merge Colors Into A Row, or click the icon .
To change tints or shades of new colors, click the triangle next to the right of a new color (or right-click a color and choose Colorize Method), and choose an option. Select Apply To All if you want the same option to apply to all new colors in the color group.
Tints And Shades and Hue Shift are only available when you choose not to preserve spot colors.
When you recolor selected artwork, the colors in the selected color group replace the original colors. When assigning new colors, it helps to see where an original color (from the Current Colors column) appears in your artwork, especially if your artwork is very detailed, or contains many original colors.
Reducing colors for output, converting colors to grayscale, or limiting colors to a color library is often necessary when you create artwork intended for multiple types of output media. You can easily reduce the number of colors in your artwork using the Recolor Artwork dialog box. You can choose whether to use a preset for reducing colors, for example, you can choose Grayscale Art to quickly convert your selected artwork to grayscale.
Reducing your colors by using a preset is a quick and easy way to limit your artwork to a specific number of colors or a swatch library.
Specifies a preset color job, including the number of colors used and optimal settings for that job. If you select a preset and then change any of the other options, the preset changes to Custom.
Specifies the types of variations allowed for the new colors.
Exact exactly replaces each current color with the specified new color.
Scale Tints (default option) replaces the darkest current color in the row with the specified new color. Other current colors in the row are replaced with a proportionally lighter tint.
Preserve Tints is the same as Scale Tints for non-global colors. For spot or global colors, it applies the current color’s tint to the new color. Use Preserve Tints when all the current colors in the row are tints of the same or similar global color. For best results when using Preserve Tints, also select Combine Tints.
Tints And Shades replaces the current color with the average lightness and darkness with the specified new color. Current colors that are lighter than the average are replaced with a proportionally lighter tint of the new color. Current colors that are darker than the average are replaced by adding black to the new color.
Hue Shift sets the most typical color in the Current Colors row as a key color and exactly replaces the key color with the new color. The other current colors are replaced by colors that differ from the new color in brightness, saturation, and hue by the same amounts that the current color differs from the key color.
Sorts all tints of the same global color into the same Current Colors row, even if colors are not being reduced. Use this option only when the selected art contains global or spot colors applied at tints less than 100%. For best results, use in combination with the Preserve Tints colorization method.
note: Even when Combine Tints is not selected, color reduction combines tints of the same global color before it combines different non-global colors.