Following up on yesterday’s
InDesign tips, here are a few of my favorite
Adobe Illustrator tips, for your weekend reading pleasure:
Flipping and selecting colors
Pressing the X key toggles the stroke and fill tool, making one or the other active. Holding down the Shift key with the X key swaps the actual color of the fill with the color of the stroke. This of course only works with solid colors, since gradients can’t be applied to strokes.
You can set the fill or stroke to “None” simply by hitting the slash (‘/’) key. And finally, you can open the Adobe Color Picker easily by double-clicking either the fill or stroke icon in the Tools panel.
Global color swatches
Illustrator offers a little-known or -used feature that can be an absolute savior for illustrators and designers who are building complex sets of documents: Global Colors. Any CMYK color can be made a Global color by opening the Swatch Options dialog box for the color and clicking the “Global” checkbox.
The advantage of using Global colors is that when you change its attributes, all instances of that color in your document are updated automatically. This can be a huge time-saver if your document uses the same color on many different objects—especially if that color is contained in a gradient, or on locked layers. Additionally, you can specify a “tint” of a Global process color, something you would have to do manually without the Global Color feature.
Global colors in the Color Panel are indicated by the white triangle in the lower right corner of the swatch.
Color on the spot
You can make any color a spot color simply by holding down the Command key when you click the New Swatch icon. To make a Global spot color, press Command -> Shift while clicking the New Swatch icon.
Spot colors in the color pane are indicated by the dot inside the white triangle in the lower right corner of the swatch.
Saving your colors
Don’t forget, you can save your custom color swatches by clicking the fly-out menu in the Swatches panel and selecting “Save Swatch Library as ASE.” Once saved as a Swatch Exchange document, you can import that swatch file into InDesign or Photoshop to ensure all your colors match perfectly.
Checking color mode and resolution of placed images
There’s an easy way to check the color mode and resolution of placed raster images in Illustrator without having to go back and open the image in Photoshop.
All you have to do is select the image in your Illustrator document and look up in the Control panel across the top of the screen. Along the left side you’ll see the name of the placed image, the color mode and the effective resolution of the file – in the screenshot above you’ll see that the image has a color mode of CMYK and a resolution of 300 dpi, perfect for commercial printing. However, if the resolution is too low, you can scale the image down which will make the resolution higher.
You’ll also notice that you can click the button just to the right of the resolution to embed the image. This can be quite handy for those designers who are confident in their file structure and knowledge of printing technology. However I generally recommend you avoid embedding images in Illustrator, it takes away any flexibility your printer might have in color correcting the image, and it bloats the file size, sometimes to astronomical proportions.
[James Dempsey runs the
Creative Guy blog, which offers tips, tricks and opinion on a variety of design topics.]