Optimize Your Design Workflow: Adobe Illustrator Libraries II | Elizabeth Silver | Skillshare

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Optimize Your Design Workflow: Adobe Illustrator Libraries II

teacher avatar Elizabeth Silver, Surface Pattern Boss

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

6 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Gathering your Libraries

    • 3. Organizing your Libraries

    • 4. Saving your Libraries

    • 5. Optimizing & Best Practices

    • 6. Wrap Up & Project

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About This Class

Make a good design great with Adobe Illustrator swatches and brushes! Pattern designer Elizabeth Silver shows you how to organize the swatches and brushes your created in Part 1 of this course, and how to best integrate them into your daily design workflow. Get tips on how to be sure all your brushes are in the correct color mode, how to change your default swatches and how to keep your libraries updated. 

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: I'm a freelance surface pattern designer, and running your own business is a constant hustles, So I'm always looking for ways to streamline my work. In my last class, I talked about how to build out your Adobe illustrator libraries in orderto have some go to tools to use when you design in. This class will look at how to organize our Russians watches libraries once we've started to amass a collection and how to integrate those libraries into our work. By the end of this class, you'll have the knowledge to leverage your brushes and swatches libraries so that you always have the right tool ready, as well as how to have your favorite library sync with every new document. 2. Gathering your Libraries: my last class adobe, ill share libraries. But one was a precursor to this class, and I addressed ways to build your swatch and brush libraries. I went over my favorite types of swatches and brushes and showed how to create each of them . If you're just starting out or need a refresher on, my brushes and washes are super useful. Take a look at that course first. I have been working as a freelancer for about a year. When I decided it was time to get organized and start streamlining my libraries. I had a lot of faux embroidery brushes. As you can see here, this is a really little document from when I worked in house at an apparel company. And so this is like sequins and beads and stuff like that. So I had a lot of these brushes, and I was working on a lot of new prints for Texas studios, and I was making brushes and swatches for those. So you can see here I have some swatches in the background, a lot of polka dots and stripes and that kind of thing. Here's a lot more swatches and brushes that I used to make these patterns. So I was making a lot of new stuff and I was ready to start organizing it and using it because polka nuts and triangles and Asterix are in a lot of my patterns, and I wanted to be able to use them over and over again. The best way does start organizing is to gather what you have and take stock of what you have. So you're going to start by opening artwork that you've already done that has watches in it or brushes in it that you want to save. So I'm starting a new document here, and this is a sign of done recently that I haven't saved any of the swatches for yet. But if you come over here and do large thumbnails, you can see that I do have a lot of swatches that I used in bathing suits and towels that I think could be useful for the future. So the way I do this is make a square and start putting out swatches here, see what we've got. It makes it a lot easier to see, but also, this is gonna be good for transferring it over. So this is white so I can see that this is a poke it up pattern, but it's it's white. Um, these two here are bit map patterns on these air vector patterns. So these bit Matt patterns actually have from a previous project, and I just wanted to see how they would look. This is like a stone pattern. Looks like these are the same thing that I already have. And then we got a little pineapple and a little cactus. I think that's all the new ones. And these air just color ways, these ones over here. So now I'm gonna collect all these, copy them and bring them into a new document. And, as you can see, has the colors but also automatically adds in all these swatches. Now, when I'm doing this, I'm thinking about swatches that are ditzy patterns that I'm using within a pattern. Sometimes when I'm creating new work, I use the swatches to make sure my repeat looks good. So, for example, I might make a swatch of this repeat block and then, if it's not quite right, I mean sort of move a couple of these pots around and then make another swatch and kind of look at how it looks and go back and forth. But I'm not gonna save that kind of swatch into a library, because in a new design that I'm doing, I'm not going to use a pattern of old design. I did, for example, this thing's potted plant design. It doesn't really make sense. It's on Lee kind of the ditzy patterns or textures that I'm going to make use of again. So in reality, I'm probably not gonna use this pineapple and this cactus. But these things are pretty universal and might be helpful in another print. The other thing to think about when you're starting to gather your swatches and brushes is things that maybe you didn't have time to make into swatches when you were first designing a print. But now you might want Teoh. So, for example, this is a lettering print that I did, and I think this sort of dashed pattern that I have here, as well as this little angle pattern and this cross hatching kind of pattern would all be really useful swatches. But I only made them as lines, so just as kind of a reminder of things to do I'm gonna select thes and bring them into this document so that way to go so that when I have some time and if I was working on this project, if I've set aside time to work on this project, I would do it right now. I can kind of put these things into Repeat and then I have these patterns for later on thes two would be super simple toe put into Repeat. This one obviously would take a little more time, but they would be really useful tohave. So you're starting to get all types of different patterns into your document. Then you're gonna want to go through and do the same thing for brushes with a second document. So here I have a new document. This is a pattern that I did a while a long time ago, actually where it made a lot of different brushes. I means in different scattered brushes. Make this work which I can kind of see here I did all kinds of different things loose. Make this happens. So this one is a decorative one. I'm gonna take Take thes copy them, bringing them into Can you file see what else I have here. Here. I had used, um, embroidery brush some of these other things here, so I'm just gonna take a selection for now, but I would be more complete, but this was And now you're starting to have a list of brushes here, too, so and have to documents one with swatches and one with brushes. 3. Organizing your Libraries: now that you gathered a bunch of swatches onto one document, we're going to start to talk about organizing. So I've seen this document a swatches, and it also did the same. I gathered some more brushes here, and I say this document as brushes and you're gonna wanna have a folder where this is all in one place. So I'm gonna start with swatches. First, we need to sort of categorize and think about how we're going to use our swatches and when they might come into play. If you want to make one really big Swatch library, you can. But this gets kind of confusing when you're looking to put some designs some patterns into your work. Looking at all these thumbnails can get kind of confusing. So what I recommend is starting to categorize what you have. So, for example, I have a plaid library, So here's some different plans that I've created. So I'm gonna drag all the plaid I see over here now, I just did all these new ones, and a lot of them kind of go together. They're all ditzy geometrics, and so I'm going to sort them like that. This square pattern I'm not sure I'd use it again. The pineapple on the cactus are also sort of singular. But maybe I could do a novelty group. The's maybe could be marks. These stars sort of go in. I've got grids over here or tiles. This one kind of goes with that. This one. If I make it a little bigger, you can see sort of fits in with these. And also, when I first started doing this, I had a lot of different stripes and dots and I used them all the time. But I actually talked about in my last class how some of the default patterns Here we go. Basic graphics, basic graphics, dots already kind of cover this and don't need that so much anymore, because you can get, like, every size of dot with the defaults, which is really helpful because they did not used to have that. So I actually don't really need these. I might want special stripe like this, but the's basic stripes are also can be found in the default, so I'm actually gonna delete these. So I'm just gonna finish up sorting things. I've got a little decorative here. A couple little decorative XYZ heart maybe can go with the Geos florals and a few different categories here. So that's where I'm and yours is obviously going to be different. So if you're looking at your screen now and you've got everything sort of categorized or a sort of group, let's say you're gonna come over to your swatch palette and see that it's kind of a hot mess. OK, hands. There's colors from the original document. There's all these different swatches. There's a couple of defaults watches like this crazy thing right here. There's Grady INTs. There's just a lot going on. And if you save this Swatch, um, library right now, you'd be pretty confused when you went to open it later and use it. So talk about how to organize this and how to make it a little bit cleaner. First of all, a little thing that you can do to kind of view things easier is this shows all swatches. But if you push this button and you can show while color swatches and all radiance watches and all patterns watches so patterns, obviously being the thing that you're going Teoh be working with, probably I'm going to go back to show all swatches. And I had this in the big thumbnail. But let's do small so I can work with it easier. I'm gonna select all of these colors and this crazy patterns Watch that came default by clicking the 1st 1 holding shifts and then clicking the last one. And I'm just gonna drag it all to the trash so that now the things that air here dragging this color group in this color group to the trash and the things that are here are all my swatches actually can see these last four are those polka dots that I tried before those default ones. It was at its I'm actually gonna get rid of those two now. Then you can kind of see what you're working with. I recommend starting a new document for each category, gonna copy all of these new create paste, and again I'm going to get rid of all the extremists, watches by just dragging them to the trash. And now I would say this as, let's say, um did see geo going to save the whole document and the reason that I'm saving the whole document as a separate thing is so that I can add to it later on easily. So to show you I have a ditzy swatches that I put together a long time ago. I have these dots watches, which, as I said, it kind of don't need any more with the defaults. I have geo swatches. And now that I'm adding some new things toe, all of these, I kind of want to re categorize a little bit. So I might open this geo swatches and make some changes getting rid of those trellises, getting rid of stripes and bringing in my new disease. If you're starting from scratch, you're gonna just do a new document. But later on, when you're ready to make some edits, this is how you can do it. So now my whole Swatch panel is shown on this document. So you're going to save this document and you're gonna do a similar thing for the brushes going to this document that I had started copying rushes in from all different types of documents and one thing you need to do specifically with the brushes before you start categorizing is you want to convert all of these brushes into brushes that you can change color with. It's best practice to do this when you're making the brush originally, but I didn't always do this. So, for example, this cute little scallop, if I change the color of my pen to aqua, doesn't change the scallop color, because when I made this, I made it as a black brush. But you want brushes that if you're gonna be using them in all different patterns, you want to be able to change the color easily. So for brushes, you can see quickly which ones are have been properly made in which ones I didn't properly make by. Let's choose this blue. I selected them all. So as you can see, some turned blue and some did not. And those are the ones I have to go through and edit, so to do so let's take this super complicated Lacey one. Double click it change method to hue shift, and it should already have your key color, which is the red. And if you saw when I did that, it automatically made it the blue, so now apply to strokes. So now when? If I see this brush later on, it's going to save that setting. And then when I bring it into ah Valentine's pattern and I want it to be pink, I can easily do that Vs the red versus anything else. So same thing for this method. Huge shift. Okay, applied to strokes. And I'm not going to go through and do every single one. But I will show you These ones are scattered rushes up here and it's the same type of thing . Hue shift. Okay, apply the strokes and you see that makes it blue. So when you have a brush that has two colors like this one, you can do huge shift, but one is still going to stay. So in this case, the key color is the brown, so that's gonna turn blue. But this little red is going to stay red unless I want it to be like this. So see, I just chose that red, you know, that turns blue, and it actually did kind of a shifting of the brown kind of makes it like ingredient so you can play around, look at changes to green, and it kind of does a weird things. So with two color brushes, you kind of have toe play around a little bit to make it what you want, but you can at least make one color changeable. Once you fixed your colors, you're going to go in and categorize, just like swatches of got embroidery, scallops lease some painterly brushes and then you're gonna clean up your brush library just like you did first watches getting rid of all the defaults and anything you don't want to use. Most of my brushes air, decorative or pattern. But I did buy these chalky artistic brushes from creative market, so adding brushes like this can be really great to put into your library as well. Once you divide up all your brushes and your swatches into separate documents, show you some of my brush documents here. Painterly brushes. There we go and lace brushes you're gonna save again. I would get rid of these extra things that are defaults and just have the pattern brushes and save them as separate documents 4. Saving your Libraries: once you have all your swatches and your brushes in separate documents, as I'm showing here with my ditzy Geos and my trellis and my decorative and painterly and you've made sure you cleaned up your swatches palette and taking out extremist colors ingredients and gotten everything all organized. And to say that you're going to see as a I s e is for colors only, I believe so. You see, it's watches, AI. It's gonna take into the default spot where your adobe Illustrator settings are, and you can save them here. And then I would also save this document in an easily accessible folder and said of deep into the adobe settings world where you have to like, go dig for it That way you can just open these up whenever you need to make changes. So do the same thing for this one. I'm really just updating it because I've changed it a little bit for brushes is the same idea. Got all these brushes here, see brush library and I already have the same Does painterly brushes? Yes, replace. And now you have libraries to access. So just to kind of show you this is a lollipop print I was working on. And I'd like to do something interesting in the background to give it a little, you know, something fun. And I think a little ditzy would be great. So I'm going to copy this. Chew this layer and I'm going Teoh, Open brush liver. I'm going to go to swatches and open Swatch library down to user defined. And everything that was in that folder is right here. If you had saved it somewhere else, you can always go searching for it by saving, selecting other library. But back to this user defined is automatically saved here. So geometric did see what I just did. Opens that up. I'm going t make it large thumbnails. That kind of help. See what I'm doing And triangles, thes little exes or kind of cute. It's a little much Sprinkle. Seems pretty fun. Sprinkles might be the winner. Of course, I can do something totally new if I want to, but let's try Sprinkles and actually, these Sprinkles happen to be yellow, so they're already kind of perfect. But if you want it to be different color, you can select the pattern and then the re color tool and you can play around with different options. A lighter yellow, a blue. I I actually like that dark yellow, so I'm just gonna bring it back. That new version saves two years, watches, palette, but not to your geometric disease. So if you re color things, you're not gonna get like 45 when you reload, this geometric did see into a different document. You're not going to get all like, different versions that you might have changed. You're only going to get these originals and brushes are the same thing. You go to your brushes tab and you open user defines and you're gonna have everything that you've saved or if you saved it in a different spot. Besides, like your adobe settings, you know, other library and browse Open brush library user defines painterly brushes, for example, and I can just select one, and I could bring it right into my document. And now I can use any brushes in any document. I just wanted to talk about one thing related to file size, so I use a lot of metallics in my work in my greeting card and stuff like that. I love to see how they're gonna look. And so for a long time I was just sort of opening a J peg that I had of these glitters and metallics and thinking about this class. I was like, Why do I do this over and over? I should just make it into a library. So I did that. But it's a really big file. So that is sort of the drawback of JPEG images using J pegs Teoh s watches just to give you an example. This is like my geo ditch ditzy swatches that we were just working on 7 91 kilobytes. But these metallics, which only have what seven things is 171 killed 1000 kilobytes. So that's going to be something you need to be aware of, that it's going to slow down your computer if you have these type of J pegs, Um, and as you bring them into as you load them into your design files and then use them, it's going to slow things down. So you might want to try a really low resolution version, just kind of as a placeholder until you need to print them or if you're playing around and trying all different color glitters. Let's say until you settle on silver, you might want to then drag those out of the art file so that you only have the one swatch remaining that you actually finally use to keep file size down. So that is how you organize and save and load difference. Watch libraries and brush libraries, which can save you a lot of time. But I'm really excited about the next section where I'm gonna tell you how to streamline even more. 5. Optimizing & Best Practices: Now it's time for my favorite part, which is how to integrate this stuff into your daily workflow and streamline what you're doing to make everything a lot more efficient. So it's pretty easy to load swatches and brushes as I've already shown you, and you know, you can add patterns into your artwork, and that's really great. But there are times when even just loading those watches and brushes gets annoying. When you're opening new documents all the time and you're switching things around and just constantly loading the same things can get frustrating. So I have three methods to make things easier, and they're all sort of have different levels of usefulness. And the 1st 1 is kind of a temporary solution. And it's also sort of one of those illustrator tricks that, um, can be fussy, if you know what I mean. Certain illustrator and voter shop tricks I think we all know one or two that are like, so awesome, but for some reason, sometimes they just don't work and you go through forums looking for why your settings aren't working and it can be really frustrating. But if it does work, it's amazing. Let's say I was doing a collection where I was going to use these swatches. So I'm gonna do five or six different designs and they're all gonna have these little patterns involved in them. And so I want them to be available to me and not have to load them for every design I think I can do is click on the options panel and click Persistent Checkoff, Persistent. And what that does is holds this menu up throughout different documents. When you load new documents, when you close illustrator and turn illustrator back on this geometric, ditzy swatches should pop up the second way you can bring your swatches and Russia's libraries into your documents in a kind of streamline manner is through templates. So I'm gonna show you this example right now. This is my branding created this a couple years ago. It's got my logo, my colors and I have some little patterns and brushes that I created that I use on my website and in new content. I've got my my phones and everything else so you can see I've got swatches up here. I've got my colors and my patterns watches and over here I've got some brushes that I use for my website as well. So templates are actually a really rich tool that you can make a lot of different settings as part of your template, not just your brushes and swatches, but all kinds of things, type and symbols and resume level. There's all kinds of things, So that's something to explore for other purposes as well. But for this class, I'm going to be talking about the rushes in the swatches. So sometimes when I am gonna be creating new content, I need my colors. I need my swatches. I want everything toe look, you know, in sync with my brand. So I want to save these brushes and swatches so that I can easily access them whenever I'm gonna do something new and branded. So once your brushes and swatches are all set up and you get rid of all the extras that you don't need, you also are going to want to delete your extra content because your template is going to be what opens up when you you open it as a template. It's gonna open up exactly as is. I'm gonna save these two. I've already saved my logo is a symbol, but I'm gonna save these two different versions of it. I'm gonna save my fonts over to the side here, and then I'm gonna delete the rest of this stuff and basically, after received, this is a template. This is going to open up, as is whenever I want a new document without me having to kind of save over this this document. So I'm going to get rid of some of these extra layers, in fact, and then I'm going to start a new layer so that when I'm ready to work, this is gonna be ready for me. And we're gonna save this template. You can save it in illustrators setting spot, or you can save it in your own folder. I'm gonna put it in my brand templates folder, Franz Ing Saiki branding and I'm going to save it as a template. Okay, now I'm gonna close out and open new from template. I'm gonna go back and find that brand templates e brandy. And this is a totally new document, as you can see, entitled to It's not my old file, but it already has my swatches and my brushes here and Now when I want to create something new, I have everything available to me to do so. And I can, you know, just get my little girl here it up front and, you know, design a banner or whatever I might need for marketing purposes. And I have all my branding stuff right here. So that's really awesome. And it's already its own document. As I said, so I could just save this is something else and don't have to worry about saving over my my brand concepts. I'd say this template is great for things that you do pretty regularly, like marketing that you want to have available. I'd say, like the persistent thing if it works for you, is great for sort of temporary, like something you're gonna be doing for a week or two weeks. And you just wanna have your brushes up. Template is great for something that you for brushes and swatches that you use relatively regularly, but not necessarily every day. Only for certain projects, you might use it for a client work. If you have a client, if you do like more graphic design work, you might have a client who has you know certain branded colors, and you always need to use those fonts and colors with that client, and you could make a template for that purpose. The third way that you can have your brushes and swatches really easily available is, I'd say, kind of the most integrated and not exactly the most permanent, but just the most integrated. And I'm gonna explain what I mean. Right now, Um, I have this brush that I created about six months ago. It's nothing super special. It's just a calligraphy brush. But I kind of adjusted the pressure sensitivity and, you know, just kind of does what I want, and it's basically my go to brush. Now I use it to draw pretty much, you know, any sort of like, fine detail. And so I was finding myself opening a document that had the Russian already copying it, bringing into a new document, and then I had it to use. And then I could start my my drawing whatever pattern I was about to embark on, and that was getting really annoying because, like I said, it was my favorite, and I was using it basically as my my default rush. It's annoying for two reasons. The second reason besides me having to do it over and over again is that the actual defaults for documents in illustrator are kind of crazy. If you look at swatches, the colors are fine, I guess. But tell me what designer is using this greedy int? What what designer needs is what purpose could this watch ever serve? Or this one? And, you know, I want a pretty calligraphy brush, but I really am never, ever, ever gonna use this brush. And as visual people looking at her brush pallets and seeing all this junk is kind of frustrating. So I figured there had to be a better way. And there is you can adjust your defaults, and the way you do that is you have to find a very specific spot in your illustrator settings, and it's a little bit different for everyone. I'm going to push post a screenshot in the projects section so you can download the screenshot, and that is for my Windows 10 cc version. But you can find it might be, you know, it's gonna be different for you, but you can sort of find it by looking for the user Your user on E As a user, you're gonna be looking for the most recent and you're looking for new document profiles so you can kind of search that. But when you find it, you'll know because they are illustrator files that are called these sort of names. If you don't have illustrator CCU still have access to this, this has been part of illustrator for a really long time. So even if you have an old version, but you just might not have all of the East Raider. But basically, once you find the folder new document profiles that has actual illustrator files in them, you've come to the right place. So I'm gonna open up mobile just to see what we have and show you how it works. So the basic mobile I don't really designed for Mobile, obviously. But the basic mobile file has these brushes and these watches. And of course, when we're designing for mobile, we always need a floral like this. So it just makes sense to me, right? But assuming you don't need this floral pattern when you're designing for mobile, you can delete what you want to delete like toe have some colors available just for, like, quick, you know, filling in. Um, you know, this brush doesn't work for me, but let's see what we have a decorative brushes and for mobile, Clearly, I would want to have a a little leafy pattern and this decorative brush. And if those are my mobile, go to brush is now I'm going to get my swatches from my brands so that I can use those for mobile. And now that I pasted those in, I'll delete those other colors and all you do is save. Okay, I've saved that profile and I don't need to do anything else. Now, I close that out, close this out and I'm going to say new and I'm gonna choose Mobile. And let's say I'm gonna be designing something for iPad, so I'm gonna choose this iPad size create, and when I open it up, it's untitled. It's a totally new document, but it has my two brushes and my force watches, and now I can design something for iPad, and it's perfect. So for my prince, I started with my favorite brush, and I have a couple sort of hand drawn brushes here and for swatches I had added in some dots because I do like to add dots to a lot of different things. So I just put in a couple dots to sort of test this out. And now, whenever I create a new print document, start with print and let's say letter And now I have my entitled when it comes with my dots and it comes with my brushes and I'm ready to go. So if you use a different setting the mobile if you use mobile a lot, if you use weather, LA film and video, you can make changes to all of those. And the thing that I like about this versus the template is that you can do any size. So I'm going to do a new print file, but I'm gonna do I don't wanna do letter. I'm gonna be doing a repeat. So I'm gonna say point uh, 6 to 5 by 12.65. That's like a standard rotary printing size. So now I have this. It comes with my swatches. It comes with my brushes, and I'm ready to draw my my new print that I'm that I want to do so the last thing I want to say about best practices now that you have a few different ways where that you can integrate, you know swatches and brushes into your daily workflow is sort of how Teoh keep it going and keep things updated. I understand that every time you design something that hasn't brush or swatch, that might be useful. You're not always going to go and update your libraries and, you know, keep things, keep things current. As I was putting this class together, like I said, I was coming across things that I hadn't, you know, put into any sort of library that I wanted to put into a library. And I'm going to go back and organize things a little bit better. But one way you can set yourself up for success is to use my all time neighbor tool, which is tagging. Enbridge have, of course, all about it, so if you need to learn more, check out that class. After I'm finished with any collection I go through and I tag the kind of themes, the motifs I put in a copyright notice on the file's metadata and all that kind of stuff and What I want to start doing now is when I'm in there tagging. I also want to add a tag that says Swatches or attack that says brushes two documents and designs that have brushes and watches I want to use later. So this pattern is an example of something that has a lot of great swatches and ditzes in it. So if I tag it with swatches when I have a chance to reorganize my brushes and update my libraries, I can just search swatches and it's gonna pop up. And then I am ready to update my libraries. 6. Wrap Up & Project: with optimize your workflow adobe illustrator libraries part one into. I hope you have the tools to start making much more efficient use of your library's. I use a lot of ditzy patterns in my work, and this method has helped me when I need a little extra funding my designs but don't have something specific in minds. I also think it helps to give my portfolio added appearance, because I use certain textures and patterns over and over again. Has your project for it This class. I want you to get started on organizing your brushes and swatches by creating one document each for your libraries and then shows a screenshot. I can't wait to see all the awesome brushes and swatches you've created.