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Advantages in global colours

In Adobe Illustrator you have the opportunity to work with global colours. It’s a cool system where you can ensure usage of the very same colour or even make easy colour changes on difficult illustrations (where the colour appears many places).

What is a global colour?

In normal circumstances Illustrator will not link colours together. Whenever you choose a colour from the swatches panel your object get the colour and thats it. If you change the colour in the swatches panel, the change does not inflicts on your colour in your illustration. If you work with global colours and change the colour the change will be immediately seen on the illustration. Actually, InDesign always works as a default with global colours. Whenever you change the colour in the swatches panel the change is everywhere the colour has been used. Thus the name: Global. As a default Illustrator work with “local” colours. You change the colour of a swatch and that change does not change any colour in your illustration.

This is the standard Swatches panel in Illustrator:

Illustrator Swatches

How to create a global colour?

Basically you just double click on a colour or go for the new swatch dialog box. In that box remember to tick on this box:

Global swatch

The swatch will now have a small white triangular corner. It has now been turned global!

Global swatch Illustrator

How to make a tint swatch?

But there is way more into it. With a global swatch you have the cool ability to make tint swatches. A tint is a weaker version of the original colour. A pastel like version. See it as a matter on how much pigment the colour has. You can now thin the pigment out and get weaker colour versions of the original colour. Excellent when you don’t want it all to be too colourful but need more variation.

When you choose a colour and opens the color panel, you have the option to change the colour.

Illustrator Swatches

Doing the very same with a global colour you now have the chance to make a tint swatch! Just drag the slider for seeing new versions with less pigment. And you can add them as new swatches the usual way.

Illustrator Swatches

Added tints seen in the swatches panel:

Illustrator Swatches

But what happens if I change the global mother colour of all the tints? Well, all the tint children change too. Beautiful!


Illustrator Swatches

Tint swatches may give you more calm colours to your illustration and more subtle variation on your colour preference. Give it a go!

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Designer - Photographer - Adobe TrainerGrafisk TroldmandSpecialist i Photoshop, InDesign og Illustrator. Har en baggrund indenfor kunst og marketing. Skrevet bøger og lavet online videoer samt lavet seminarer for Adobe. Når der ikke undervises arbejder jeg med visuelt design på egen tegnestue. Adobe Certified Instructor Adobe Experience Expert