How to Recolor Artwork using Illustrator
Today I’ll talk about how you can recolor your artwork in Illustrator CS3 using the LiveColor feature. I’ve always wanted to talk about this feature, but somehow I never got to actually doing it. I believe this is a rather powerful feature that might be a bit daunting at first sight. It definitely needs some getting used to before you actually see or understands its power.
Some people might find other methods better, easier or faster, but here are the steps I usually take when I use this feature:
Add your swatches in a Color Group
First thing I usually do is group my color swatches in a Color Group and duplicate my artwork or save another version if the artwork is too heavy to work in the same document. Select the color swatches and click the New Color Group icon in the Swatches palette to create a Color Group. Give it a name and click OK
Edit or Apply Colors
Click the Edit or Apply Colors wheel icon in the Color Guide palette.
The Live Color window
You’ll see that the colors of your artwork are a bit mixed up. They are there but they are differently applied. I have no idea what the purpose of this is really because so far it always end up uglier then my oringinal artwork. Maybe it was just bad luck for me so far I don’t know.
Get colors from selected art in the Live Color window
Click the Get colors from selected art option in the Live Color window. This will bring back the order of how the colors are applied in your artwork.
Create New Color Group
To make sure you don’t accidentally overwrite your original colors, click the Create New Color Group option.
Link or unlink the harmony colors
Start dragging the color handles in the color wheel. By default the harmony colors are linked. I usually try out things first with this option as set to linked, but for me it somehow almost never gives me the result I want. Still I always try, just in case I get surprised. If your result is not exactly what you’re looking for either, you could try things out in the unlinked state by clicking the icon so it becomes a broken chain icon.
Instead of editing colors, you can also assign colors. Click the Assign option button to go to this feature. Here you’ll see the swatches of your artwork that are currently in use followed by an arrow and the new swatches to the right. You can assign a new swatch to each color. You can also change the order of the new swatches by dragging them to another place in the column of new swatches. So instead of experimenting via the color wheel, you can also use this method. I find this feature handy if I have already colors in mind and I want to adjust the colors in a rather complex artwork in a fast way.
Save artwork color sets
Click the save icon to save the artwork color set you like. This way it will be saved in the LiveColor feature. Each time you click the Edit Colors in the Color Guide palette you’ll see them listed.
I usually click OK after the 1st set I saved. Then I duplicate my artwork again and I repeat the same steps all over again just couple of times until I have enough combinations to compare or to show the client.