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A Complete Guide to Color in Adobe Illustrator

Lesson 13 of 15

Color Modes, Proofing Colors and Accessibility

Jason Hoppe

A Complete Guide to Color in Adobe Illustrator

Jason Hoppe

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Lesson Info

13. Color Modes, Proofing Colors and Accessibility
Set color modes; RGB or CMYK. Convert colors in a file to either color mode. Work on files that are to be used for both print and web and see how to proof colors on screen to see what the color result will be in the end use. Set up colors for Accessibility, specifically for color blindness.

Lesson Info

Color Modes, Proofing Colors and Accessibility

in this portion. I want to talk about color modes. RGB versus C m y que the transitional shift that happens when you convert one color mode toe another. But also talk about proofing colors. So what does this mean? And why is this really important? Well, if I have started off my document here and I've created a new document So I go under file new when I've created a new document and my intention was to build something that was going to be for Web or for Mobile. My color mode was RGB. So when I create my document, then I see that RGB is my color mode and it shows up in my tab. I could go under my file menu and I could change my color mode from RGB two c m y que when I'm in the middle of a document here. But here's one of the problems that you run into the RGB color space is ah, lot larger than the CME week color space we can't print ah, lot of the colors that we can see on screen, so I'm going to select my shape and I'm gonna go to my color panel and I'm going to purposely pick a color t...

hat is out of gamut and out of gamut Color warns me here with a warning sign showing me that this color that I'm choosing right here is on Lee going to display on screen. I can't get something that is going to print now If I see this and I'm an RGB mode, I'm going to be fine. If my end results are going to be on anything that displays light cell phone tablet computer video, it's gonna be fine. But if I use this for print, I want to see how this is going toe, look for print. Now, I could immediately go over and just simply click on the out of gamut warning and this is then going Thio, get it into a principal color. But I'm gonna undo this and maybe I really like this color and I want to use this bright, vibrant color. But if I do end up printing this, I need to see what this looks like. So if I do want to the view menu, I can then choose proof colors and when I proof the colors proofing the colors will allow me to see exactly how they're going to appear. It in my end device or the end results right now. When I went ahead and I chose my proof colors here, I can choose the proof set up, and I have different RGB modes here. Internet Standard s RGB is considered the standard when you do anything for the Web, this is monitor RGB, and so it's taking my color profile from my monitor, and it's showing me what this looks like based on the actual color, and you'll notice when I turn off the proof colors. There's a shift in the colors and this happens. So let's go interview. Let's go into proof colors here. And I want to take these colors that I know specifically are out of gamut because when I chose them over here in my color palette, it warm warned me, I'm gonna go into the proof set up, and I'm going to see how these colors would Then look, if I were going to print this so working Sam y que So four color process here and the U. S. Web coded standard web offset press version, too long description right here is basically the industry standard for how CME y que is represented. Do you notice that color shift right there? Do you see that color shift? It went from being a very vibrant color. By the way, this is the vibrant color to a very dull color. Now we're still working in RGB, but we're previewing this as if it's going to print in C m. Y que. If I turn off those proof colors, they're all going to go back thio their previous RGB values. So this is something that I can see if I am working in RGB mode, and then I end up using it for print without going in and converting all these to print save colors. I can see how they're going to look just by saying proof, colors and whatever color shift I see. That's what's going to happen. Okay, now, proof colors is very good, so I can see what's going to happen at the end result. And that's always nice to know how I'm going to go through and see how this works. Now say I want to go in and I actually want to convert these colors. Why couldn't do this in a couple different ways I can select on any one of my out of gamut colors, and I could go in to my color picker or my color panel here or go in to my color picker here and either one. I get that little warning sign. I can click on that, and that's going to convert it to a print safe color. I could also go under my final menu and change the entire color mode of my document from RGB into C M. Y que. It is then going to convert all of the colors that I used into C M Y K. And you can see some of those colors that were out of gamut shifted noticeably on screen. So let's take a look at these colors here in my swatch panels. If I were to put these into my swatch panel or see where these were in my Swatch panel, so there is one that was in my Swatch panel. This one wasn't in my Swatch panel since I just went ahead and converted it over. So with this color, I'm going to go to my Swatch panel, click on new color Swatch, and it's gonna add this in now. We had just converted to see em week when I put this into the c N y que color. I get these very weird percentages here, and they have one or two decimal points. Well, generally, when you send this to print, if you were sending this to an actual print shop, one of the things that they don't want to see is they don't want to see fractional percentages of your C N Y que. This right here is a dead giveaway that the colors were converted from RGB, and the closest proximity to get this into C. M y que or what they call for color process is this split percentage. So when you go in and you see this, I always make sure that I get it to a round number. If you deal with a printer or a person who is at the printer there, they don't like to see those fractional percentages. But that's a dead giveaway that this file had been converted from RGB into C N. Y que Next I'm going to change my view of my Swatch panel here, and I'm going to show you now. These colors were RGB colors to begin with. I went in to the file menu, and I sent my document color mode to see em white cane. It converted all of my colors to see em week, and you'll notice that these little boxes here are now for color process right there. Well, it's interesting, because if I go into one of my other files, you'll notice that the color here is RGB, which tells me that this is based on an RGB file. Now my colors still can be conveyed C m y que. And if I double click on these, it shows them that they could be C M. Y que. But because we're in RGB mode here, they're going to display in RGB right here, and they're giving me the closest colors to that in C N y que so jumping back over to this file here, this tells me that I have my c m. Y que colors because I get to four little triangles instead of the three bars right there. So I know that my colors are actual white. If I were to click on any one of these other colors here and they had originally started off as RGB you notice here you get all these decimal percentages even though it comes up here as the actual percentage These percentages here when you convert from RGB two c n y que and back you start getting weird percentages. So it's not advised that you go back from RGB two c n y que and then back to RGB. If I were to convert this back to RGB here in this color mode and go back to RGB, these will not return to their original vibrancy because we had them very vibrant and rgb mode. We converted them to C M Y K. We have a much smaller array of colors that we can print going back into RGB does not then give me mawr colors. Once I put into C m y que that is gonna be very, very, very limiting. Okay, so going back to RGB doesn't give me any advantage at all. So that's something to think about when you're going in and you're creating these colors and you're creating your file and what's your end? Use is going to be. If you simply proof your colors here, they're not going to convert the colors they're just going to show you what the colors would look like if you were to go ahead and print them that way. Actually, going under the file menu and changing your color mode here will convert all of your colors so that they will no longer be an RGB mode. And they will now be in C m. Y que But again, be careful when you're working with any of these colors, because once you convert them here and you have, you could see that these air rgb but they're now converted to see em like a go in. And we get these very odd percentages. Okay, so I'm gonna convert these all to even number percentages here. So I don't upset the printers on the other end as I go through. Okay. So interesting way to go through and do this. Now the color names can be named anything that you want. These color names, because these were chosen, are created through one of the color harmonies like the color guy to the color themes here. These color names are very easy to change. I can simply double click on the color change the name of the color and then click OK, and that no longer displays the name of the color. But it is C M y que. Because it shows me that little Icahn right there, Mike. It's also not global, too. What was I thinking like? Okay, here we go. So there's my global color now at C. M. Y K, and it's not gonna have all little percentages in there now. Something else that you should also think about when you're dealing with color and color shifts is this. We had talked about the color themes panel and then going on to the adobes color website, color dot adobe dot com, and we had been working with a color wheel previously, and we showed you how to extract a theme from an image and extracted from ingredient. But they also have new sets of accessibility tools that allow you to create colors that are color blind, safe. There's three different types of color blindness here, due to Renault Pia, pro bono, Pia and Troiano Pia. I'm not quite sure what the colors are or the names are ones, green colorblindness ones or red color blindness. But what this allows you to do is if you're building an accessible website here. There's many things that you have to pay attention to, and one of them is your color choices. So if you go into colored adobe dot com, you can see what the colors you've chosen are right here on your color wheel. And then you can also see the outcome of somebody who has division problems that will cause them color, blindness and what they see. Colors that are too close together are going to warn you right here. Now, if you click on the little question mark icon, it will open up a nice little description page here, and you can read through all the things that they pay Attention Thio and why this works and how it works. So this is something that's definitely worth paying attention to. What's even more interesting is that you can actually set up under the view menu under your proof colors. Here, you can set up for our due to Reno P a r protein O pia color blindness. So instead of just seeing a C M. K r rgb and what's gonna look like, I've chosen a set of colors here and let's see what this looks like for somebody that has pro bono Pia. That's what it looks like. So those are the colors that they're going to see. And if I go into here and I do do to Renault Pia, this is what they're going to see where, as if I just look at it in standard working mode. That's what the colors a lot of other people see. So something to think about when you're doing accessibility is being able to go in and see these colors, how they're going to represent on screen in RGB, how they're going to print in C m like and also make sure they're accessible because you don't want to deliver something to a client that has all these beautiful colors in it. They go to print a business card and the colors look terrible. But you also want to design something that is not accessible or that you haven't thought through the entire process of color. So those air things to think about

Class Description


  • Understand color modes.
  • Create colors, save them to your library and export for use in other applications.
  • Explore color harmonies and color themes.
  • Use the recolor artwork feature to create alternate artwork colors.
  • Create tints, opacity and blending modes.


Intro to Color in Adobe illustrator is for those who are looking for a deeper and broader knowledge of color in illustrator. This class takes you from the very basics of creating swatches and picking colors by using the color picker, to being able to set up color modes for web, mobile or print projects. Using the Color Picker and Color panels, this class will explain different color modes such as RGB, CMYK and HSB as well as how to apply these color modes in your work.

The series expands to using the Adobe Color themes and Color Guide to search, edit and create new sets of color swatches to best suit your projects. Adobe color website and additional options for creating color swatches, as well as using images to inspire your color palette.

More advanced features of color include the Recolor artwork, mapping spot colors to existing colors as well as an overview of spot colors, blend modes and opacity. Color accessibility is explained to adjust artwork for color blindness. Blend modes and opacity as well as spot colors round out this course. A few tips and best practices are included for how to set up a color palette for specific projects and to share, save and export these color palettes for other projects.


  • Beginners who are learning illustrator basics
  • Artists and creators who want to explore color harmonies and color themes
  • Advanced users who want to master color creating, editing and management


Adobe Illustrator CC 2021


An Adobe® Certified Expert and Adobe® Certified Instructor, Jason Hoppe has accrued more than 17 years’ experience in high-end production training, photo retouching, color correction, and creative workflow management. In fact, Jason has been performing high-end electronic production since the industry’s inception. Also during this time, Jason has taught prepress and electronic design to hundreds of Seattle-based creative professionals and aspiring designers in a variety of settings, including one-on-one tutoring, classroom instruction, live webcasting, and large group training. He currently teaches the Adobe® Creative Suite at The School of Visual Concepts, Luminous Works and Seattle Central College and was the founding Instructor at CreativeLive.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Working AI Files

Color Modes

Color Wheel.mp4

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Paula Ayers

Well taught and super useful. Will be looking at his other classes.