illustrator techniques, part 2: editing colors

This is the second part of a two-part tutorial on creating a repeat pattern. This (much shorter) part explores using the Color Editor features of Illustrator CS3 or CS4 to change the colorway of a pattern swatch. Defining a pattern is covered in Part 1 of this tutorial.

Defining a pattern has been a part of Illustrator for many, many versions, however Color Editing is only available in more recent versions, starting with CS3. If you want to skip Part 1 and move right into color editing with the pattern swatch used for this exercise, it can be downloaded and installed as follows:

Un-zip the downloaded file

Move the file to the Applications folder (or Program Files directory for Windows):

Adobe Illustrator CS3 (or CS4) > Presets > en_US > Swatches > Patterns > Decorative

Quit and restart Illustrator

Note: The colorizing techniques using Color Edit can be used with any pattern.

Open a new document (print or web)

Insert the pattern japanese_04b into a Swatches panel by clicking on the upper right corner of the panel (A) to reveal a flyout menu of options for this panel. Select Open Swatch Library (B), the choose Patterns (C), then Decorative (D), and finally the swatch file japanese_04b.

This will open a new swatches panel with the color swatches and pattern swatch.

With the Rectangle Tool, draw a box.

For the fill color, select the pattern from the Swatches panel.

With the Selection Tool, select the filled box.

Open the Color Guide panel (A) and click on the color wheel icon at the bottom of the panel (B) to open the Recolor Artwork dialogue box.

In the Recolor Artwork dialogue box, click the Edit button (A) to reveal the Color Editor.

The link icon (B) should be ‘connected’ to preserve the same color harmony relationship. If you want to experiment with other relationships, you can ‘unlink’.

To see the results of your color choices, be sure Recolor Artwork (C) is checked.

Rotate the Active Colors (D) by clicking on one of the circles and dragging it around the color wheel to test various hues. You can also change the value by pulling the Active Color toward or away from the center of the color wheel.

Once you have chosen a new colorway, give it a name (E) and create a new group (F).

Click OK to close the Color Editor.

This will result in a new color group and a new pattern swatch being added to your Swatches panel.

A complete explanation of the Color Editor can be found in the Adobe Illustrator help file:

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