As enjoyable as it might be, choosing a colour palette (opens in new tab) for a new brand or design can prove time-consuming. Help is at hand with Illustrator’s Live Color tool, which streamlines the design process by enabling designers to choose groups of colours that work well together.
In this tutorial, I’ll demonstrate how you can use the Live Color tool to create a colour group for a logo (opens in new tab) or brand mark. One of the many benefits of working with this tool is that it’s able to suggest colours that complement or contrast your selections based on colour harmony rules (opens in new tab), enabling you to achieve strong colour palettes quickly and easily.
Create a simple logo or vector graphic using shapes of different colours. Decide on a key colour to be featured in the logo – for example, if you want to achieve an industrial feel, pick a cold grey or blue. Select your logo and bring up the Live Color panel by going to Edit>Edit Colours> Recolour Artwork.
With the Live Color panel open, click on the Edit tab to bring up the colour wheel. Here you can see the colours in your group, highlighted with circular anchors. The largest of the anchors indicates your key colour. Make sure your base colour is assigned by Ctrl/right-clicking it and selecting ‘Set as Base Colour’. Note that you can manually change the colours with the CMYK sliders at the bottom of the panel, and limit colour selections to Pantone swatches or web-safe colours.
With your base colour set, click on the drop-down arrow to the top-left of the panel. This brings up a number of colour groups based on the harmony rules of your base colour. At this point you can select a group of your choice (with the option to tweak it later) or create your own group. In my example, I’m using complementary colours at the opposite side of the colour wheel. Once you make a selection you can alter it by clicking the ‘Add or Remove Colour’ command at the bottom-right of the wheel.
There are several ways to edit the colours within your group. You can click and drag the key colour anchor to alter the group’s hue and saturation as one, or select anchors individually and drag to change them. Note that the other colours will change in accordance with your new selection unless you select the Unlink Harmony Colours box at the bottom right of the wheel.
Tweak the colours according to your preference, using the colour harmonies as a guide. Once you’re happy with the group, click the New Colour Group button and hit OK to apply the colours to your artwork. Note that the colour group appears in the Swatches panel next to a folder icon. If you double-click the folder icon, you’ll find that you’re able to edit the colour group.
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