Level Up in Adobe Illustrator : Intro to the Recolor Tool | Elizabeth Silver | Skillshare

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Level Up in Adobe Illustrator : Intro to the Recolor Tool

teacher avatar Elizabeth Silver, Surface Pattern Boss

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Create Your Design Template

    • 3. Choose a Palette

    • 4. Tour of the Recolor Tool

    • 5. Recoloring Your Art

    • 6. Refining Your Final Art

    • 7. Conclusion

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About This Class

The Recolor tool in Adobe Illustrator is one of the most powerful and versatile tools for illustrators and pattern designers. In this class we’ll be creating a simple fruit motif and harnessing the power of the Recolor tool to make a super fun Pop art inspired four panel wall art print in minutes! This class is perfect for beginners, but students will need to know enough about Adobe Illustrator to be able to draw their art for recoloring in the program.


Meet Your Teacher

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Elizabeth Silver

Surface Pattern Boss


I've spent my career keeping the 'fun' in functional with color and surface pattern.

With 10 years of in-house design experience with brands like Target, Walmart, Disney and GapKids I'm comfortable working in a variety of styles on tight deadlines.

In 2012 I went rogue and have been building a robust freelance and licensing client roster ever since. Beyond textiles, I've had the opportunity to create illustrations and prints for such products as party paper, dinnerware, outdoor decor and greeting cards.

With almost 20 years in the business and experience in both a corporate and freelance environment, I was inspired to start teaching comprehensive courses online, and now I'm excited to share shorter classes on Skillshare.

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1. Introduction: silver, and I'm a service pattern designer. I've been a designer for over 15 years, and I currently work with a lot of freelance clients and license my arm. I used Adobe Illustrator every day as I designed for my clients and my licensing portfolio . And one of the tools that I've come to love and it's so important in my workflow is the re color tool. Today I want to show you how to make a really fun for panel Waller print while learning the basics of the re color tool. As we complete this project, I'll be showing you my tips and tricks and you'll learn how to easily switch colors for your patterns, watches and leverage pallets to make a really cohesive design. Join me for the first lesson to get started. 2. Create Your Design Template: in this class, we're going to explore the functions of illustrators re color tool by creating a pop art inspired four panel design. You can work with whatever motif you'd like, but I love fruit. And I think this type of design is really perfect for wool are in your kitchen. So I'm going to stick with a fruit theme. I've already created this pair as a test wrong, but today I'm gonna walk you through doing on apple print. I suggest you start with something relatively simple so that you can focus on learning the re color tool. Lets get started. So first, we're going to choose our canvas size. I'm gonna do a body. If you are going to use this for actual wall, are gonna hang it up. Then you can either do the four panels as separate frames to work towards here as separate frames. Or you can do one big frame that has all four designs in one piece of all because I didn't eight biting. Can this I'm going to cut that in half from my four panels and do four by four square. I already have set up to do kind of any old color here because we're going to be learning a three color tool after. And then I'm gonna take this square to control sea for copy and control f for pieced directly in front. So, see, I have two squares here now and go over to my pair and steal this texture that I already used. And now I can't quite see him this color here, So let's make this a little bit darker. So now we have this kind of offset. Look right here. So this is a bit that texture. And I like that math textures because it kind of gives a little bit of, well, a little bit more of ah, pixelated quality to a vector. A little bit more kind of realistic quality Teoh computer designs. And this is kind of like a fabric we've texture, actually, including this texture in the project section that you can download it and you can use it for your project if you'd like. But if you want to learn more about creating textures, you can check out my other class adobe illustrator libraries, where I talked a lot about how I make textures. So I like to look at this. But also, if you want to go really pop art, then you can go to your swatches panel, scroll down to opens, watch library patterns, basic graphics, basic graphic dots. And if you want it, you can change this to a doctor. I'm gonna go back to this. And now we're going to draw are free. And I want to put in a separate layer. I'm gonna choose White, and I'm going to a really loose apple shape here. I'm really loose. This is gonna be kind of the background locked, and then I'm going to draw another apple. Let's use red. Gonna get my brushes up. I'm gonna use one of these calligraphy brushes so that I could have some kind of looseness to my line. Work? No, Create another. And I'm going to do even one more apple. Now, you could copy the shapes that you've already done. If you want. I'm just gonna go for a whole another one. Choose a lighter red. Okay. And next, you're gonna add a chef. So I'm going to select my apple shape control, See for copy Control F for to pace exactly in front. Now I'm gonna use a darker shade of red. This is the shadow. And I still have this color selected just the darker red can I'm gonna hit E for Eraser And now I'm going to just do kind of like a swoop and delete the other side of the red. And this kind of gives an apple shape shadow, maybe a little bit to clean. You know, see if I can try something different. Maybe a little bit more wiggle. Then I want to add a little bit of shadow down here for where this stuff is going to be. And now I'm going to to fifth layer. You're gonna add that stem and play around with a few other details, like a leaf and some additional white background. There we go. So that's my basic panel. Um, I wanted to add texture to it. So I'm going to do a cop control see again for this Red and Control f again, And I'm gonna select this texture. We're gonna be recovering, so don't worry about it. And I'm going to change these to a texture as well. In the next section, we're gonna choose our palate, and then we are going to get to recovering 3. Choose a Palette: we're gonna talk about palette now. I like to have a palate ready when I start a project. And actually, I usually choose a palate before I even do any digital motifs so that I can sort of be focused and sort of see the colors as that as I draw, especially since we're doing four panels. We don't want to just sort of pick all kinds of crazy colors for it to look like a cohesive piece. We're gonna wanna have some some colors that kind of go together. So Pinterest is a really great place to start for looking for colors. You can always search color palette or palette ideas or color combinations. Or I have a Pinterest board called Color Crush of Pallets that I particularly think are great at work that has really great color. And you're welcome to follow me Pinchers. Stop comin back slash He's silver design and you can look through my boards and follow my color crush. But this is the designed that I base my pair on, and we're gonna use this for my apple as well. This is a design from society six by pick up, coming in another pickle Modi really great palette. So I'm going to. Once you've looked through Pinterest and shows what what you like, you can copy the image and bring it in to your design. No, we're going to choose launches based on this artwork and is going back to my color crush board. You didn't see that. You know, I have all kinds of artists designs here that have really great color. I want to talk really briefly about copyright infringement. I don't think choosing colors from somebody else's design is, you know, infringing on their copyright. But if you are drawing, for example, this beautiful piece by Susan Driscoll, who has great color sense if you're drawing flowers that are similar and you're using their her color palette, that is getting to be a little bit, you know, in dicey territory. So if we're doing something totally different, I think using the similar colors is not that the good deal, especially since as the design evolves, you usually end up tweaking your colors on your color positions. But just, you know, be cognizant if you're drawing a bloom that looks like this and then using the exact same colors, that is really not. Okay, so the first thing I do is make some squares and pick some of these colors, so I kind of tried to do it. Doesn't have to be exactly in lean boat border, but I kind of tried to do the color groups together. So gonna do a dark green here. Light green, yellow getting kind of some of the oranges, this kind of coral red, and then a dark room. That's pretty good. Sometimes when you select things, you know, doesn't these two really different enough? So I think I'm going to change this a little bit, Maybe make this one a little bit darker to kind of give it, and we're gonna be tweaking as it goes, so, you know, it doesn't have to be perfect, but finding some a piece of inspiration that you know you think could make for a good four panel is an important step. So next we're going to use these colors. We can delete this now or if we want to keep it for sort of inspiration as we go. We can do that to next. We're gonna get our swatches panel in order. So let's just look at this here. This is kind of the basic thing. I have some dot patterns. This is the bit map pattern that I had in the dock that I show you. So I'm gonna select the white, and then I'm gonna hit, shift and select my last color here, and I'm gonna drag it to the trash. Want to clean up my palettes and get rid of this yellow? I leave the patterns here for now. I'm gonna leave these two folders of color groups because I'm going to be showing you something in the re color tool that relates to that. But now I'm going to select all these colors here, and I'm gonna go to this and selected colors. Okay, So everything that you have here is now up in your swatches panel, which is really great. No, we are ready to learn about recovering. And in the next video I'm going to should give you a little tour of the tool 4. Tour of the Recolor Tool: All right, We're going to work on recovery our original apple and take a tour of the re color tool. So we need to unlock. All are the layers and we need to select the entire piece of art so we can look at what we have now to get to the recover tool, You can either push this little button right up here. You can go to properties and scroll down and quick actions re color are over here. Or you can go to edit Edit colors and re color are which I have actually set up a short cut for so three options. All right, this is the re color artwork two lakhs pin. This tool, as I said in the early portions plus, is really, really powerful. There's a lot of options. There's a lot of things you can do with it, and not all of them really apply to surface pattern design and illustration. Some of them can be more for graphic design and for other uses of illustrator. I'm going to go over the basics in this course so you can kind of get a feel for this tool and also so that you can complete your project, and I think you're gonna learn some tricks that are great for your portfolio. If you're a pattern designer and illustrator So let's start with what we've got here. All right, So this is showing every color that is in the network. And over here we have the current colors, and over here we have the new colors. Right now it's at the default. But each of these colors can be changed individually so I can select this and I can use the slider down here. And as you see or changes to a blue and it changes in the artwork, we can also double click this so that we get this kind of color picker picker. I personally like this format for picking colors. It just kind of makes more sense to me than the little slider right here in. If we don't like what we've done, we can click this eyedropper, which brings it back to what you had. Now, if you've done something that you like and something that you don't like, So for example, let's say you like that red. But this blue is kind of crazy. You can drag the yellow over and that's gonna bring it back address. So here you have some options. You can you see him? Why? RGB with RGB and global adjust, which is really cool. If you want your entire selected artwork to be changed, we can add saturation. We can a brightness temperature minahasa t can mess around everything that is selected. I'm gonna bring it back to the beginning. Appear we've got our artwork colors and talk about some of the other functions you can see over here. This is the color groups, and that's based on our swatches palette. And there is a lot that can be done with these, but we're not going to be working with that. It's a day. So the first thing I want to do is change the this texture so that it makes more sense and so that we can see that shadow that we drew before. So first I'm going to start with this apple texture. And in the past, before I learned about the re color tool, I would drag his texture out. I would pick a red or purple or whatever color I wanted. I would put it here. I'm selective. Then I'd say Oh, that's too bright. Okay, let me try. You know this color Here, drag it. Okay, so it was doing things the slow way. That's a good color, though. But with the recall, anything I must go back to this yellow just to show I can click on their color. I can double click this, and I can do it. And I can say, Ok, well, that Warners doesn't quite work for me. I think I wanted to be more of a red. Okay, Like how that looks to be here, and I'm gonna say OK, And over here it's created that exact swatch that I have re colored. So my patterns watches can be re colored with the re color tool, and it will create the swatch for you, which is so helpful. So missile like these two now. And I'm gonna recover these to a darker color because this is gonna be the shadow. So now that we've got this set up, let's look at some of the other functions of the re color tool. I still have. All right, select the whole thing, Click re color. And now we've got that bright red. We've got that dark red. We've got everything that we need here to be recovering. And one note that even see the white does not have a new color Swatch so white and black tend to be auto preserved by illustrator. So if you click on this little menu panel NBC, it says preserved white black. I'm gonna uncheck those and you can see it added a white swatch. It also combined some of my greens, which we're gonna actually talk about in a few minutes. But let's put all and make sure that we have every color here that we can see. And realistically, as we make this artwork, we probably do want to preserve the white. Like I think the white is gonna look nice to keep it white instead of making it kind of all crazy colors. But there is definitely going to be things that you are doing working on where you want the black and the white to change. So that is how you change it right there. Another function you can do is go over to the edit, and this shows the color wheel for you. And this has all in colors that in your in your pattern right up here so you can adjust if this color wheel is easier for you to kind of visual on us, and it's actually a little faster than sort of double clicking, you're sliding. You can you can do with this win. I think this is great for graphic design to for experimenting. You can link everything, click this link and then it all stays the same relationship. But you can move things around. Everything is changing, sort of in the same relationship, and you can also view things in some some different manners. That's the very basics of how this works, and we're gonna talk about a few more functions, as in the next video, as we start to re color are artwork towards our path. 5. Recoloring Your Art: all right. Now let's take this apple and make it go their palate and start creating our final. So selecting everything actually gonna combined, dragging down everything into one layer that we have here. Now I'm clicking on Mary Color Tool and there's a couple things I want to do before I get started with the palate. So as you can see clearly, there are some color groups here. We've got the greens for the Leafs, the red for the apple kind of yellow gold for the backgrounds. And we could go through an individually change and say, OK, well, the apple's gonna be blue now, something to do five varieties of blue and the lease is gonna be orange. I'm do you know two different oranges here and you could pick every color individually. But as I said, this is a really powerful tool, and illustrator kind of lets you do some things to make it easier so we can work with this color group and it will sort of let you reduce colors. So if we're thinking about the pattern, we have a brown, the goals, the greens, the Reds and the one so 12345 five basic color roofs. I'm gonna choose five and see what illustrator does for me. So illustrator grouped everything together for me into five colors. You can see it made some changes and we're going to edit those changes now. So we get what we want. I'm gonna want the golden yellow to be together, so I'm gonna drag this. This is putting it into two, two colors. That's anyone group. I'm gonna make this brown separate. That's the stem. And I'm definitely leaving the white as is. And in fact, you can click this little arrow in that kind of locks it in place ands, actually thinking that I want the, um, outline to be a separate color. So I'm gonna go up to four again, kind of separated the golden or yellow, gonna drag these together, and then I'm going to drag the red outline into this extra space. Now, six outline is this color, and it is We can see it just changed colors, But one way toe check. I'm gonna drag this like this. One way to check your colors and see what the position is if you're not sure, is to select it and if you click on the color of love and finally the artwork See this little magnifying glass? You can click this and then select a color, and it will show you where it is in the work. All right, C So I could have gone and picked whichever read and seen what shows up. So that's just to kind of give you a look. So, as you can see for these Reds, I did have three pretty different reds going on. And what illustrator has done here is I've got scaled tits chosen. So it basically took one kind of medium red, and it's doing, like, the lighter versions of it. 33 versions of it. If I wanted these all to be the same, I can click on exact hold on, and that makes it all the same. But then I wouldn't see my textures. So I'm gonna go back to this. I'm gonna choose scale tints, and this is where I think this works for right now, we're gonna use this and then we can go back and refine leader. So now that we have these color groups, I'm ready to use my palate. So what? I'm going to start with is double clicking color swatches. And now I can see that, Michael, everything in my swatches panel is now right here. And this is this watches that I chose originally. So I'm gonna stick with red But I'm gonna choose the red that we had from our And I'm gonna go with a blue stem This one I'm gonna choose that red But just individually I want to kind of make it my own Is the yellow Finkel's stick with or do we want to go green? See how that looks? It's kind of cool. And let's do this break blue. So do I like that Maybe I want to do in Orangeburg grounds. Okay, I think I'm gonna choose this. I like what? What? This is starting with. I'm gonna be doing some refining afterwards, so I like this orange, but I don't love this washed out orange on top, but I'm gonna stick with this for now and see what we get. So I said, OK, now we're going to select all we're gonna drive this layer to new layer. You've been lock the first layer and are holding shift so that it moves in a straight line . I also held also, I made a copy of Been accidentally and now unlock this other earlier because I did this at four inches, but we needed a little breathing room for it to be offset. So I'm gonna shrink it down, walk that first layer again and a rename this, Um Right now I'm going to select this one and again, we have our everything's already all groups for us, and we're just going to choose new colors. So I think I'm gonna go with Blue Apple this time, all right? And going to maybe do the dark blue outline my stem, maybe is gonna be the orange. Thinks background. Try this green, and then the leaf. Let's do read. I think when you're doing this, depending on what palette you choose, you're gonna need 45 colors, depending on how many color positions, But we're gonna wanna mix it up, but still keep it pretty consistent. So, you know, I use the orange I used the red I used the blue that I using the 1st 1 but I added in the greedy and for the rest of these will kind of be switching, switching everything around. I want to show you another function right here. Um, I think I did show you how you can sort of drag and go back to what you had before, but I've been waiting a color palette, but since I already have most of the colors right here, I don't need to really double click. It can just drag it. These are sort of the darker and lighter versions of those colors army created for me. So thinking maybe the stem should be this light orange Not quite strong enough. So I'm going to go back to this. You can't really unfortunately undo when you're working here. Unless you're gonna lose the whole thing. So you have to go back to Color City. Okay? On this one, No. Going to unlock the layers, going to click cult and shift. Old's first, and I'm gonna start to move and then shift as I begin moving so that I can have many colors . I'm gonna bring these to a new layer. Just sort of make things easier. Take this one from this up to another layer. So let's do this one next. - There we go. So that's the basic and Now in the next video, we're going to sort of refine this to make it look really spectacular and make you want to print it out, put it in your kitchen. 6. Refining Your Final Art: Okay, so we have the basics of this design and the general color schemes, but I'm going to go in and refine a little bit. And I suggest you due to one reason is because the re color tool kind of flattened things out to be more tints and sheets. And I like to give a little more, possessed my work by going a little bit off that 10. So as I mentioned when I was first doing this this orange like, I like the original orange don't love this sort of pale version of it. So we're gonna unlock things and just make a couple adjustments. All right, that looks better. But I am now thinking that the orange and the green apple need to switch backgrounds because it doesn't pop as much the red and orange together. So what I'm actually going to do is select with these backgrounds, and I'm gonna do object lock selection. And there are all those air lots. Take this over here, move it over here and just switch it there. That pops better. And now we just have to kind of just a few little things here. This has to be read something. Just gonna select a red over here. And this needs to be. I think we're okay. This just needs to be blue. Here we go. Now. I'm really happy with this final art, and we can print it out and Freeman? 7. Conclusion: Now that you've learned your way around the re color panel, you can use these lessons in your illustration pattern work. If you're curious to learn more about Adobe Illustrator and how I use libraries to add character to my work, check out my other classes. Adobe Illustrator libraries wanted to please be sure to share your baller that you've created and down when the texture swatch used. My in my example are under the projects. And don't forget to hit follow to be notified when my next class comes out.