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Illustrator Tips: Color Swatches

Swapping swatches with Photoshop; combining libraries; setting up permanent default swatches
Combining swatch libraries
Now, what if you want to save some screen real estate by eliminating unnecessary palettes? Is it possible to combine swatches from the extra swatch palettes to the main Swatches palette? Yes, it is.

First of all, if you want, you can simply drag the extra swatch palettes into the same group as your main palette. To do this, just grab the tab from one of the extra swatch palettes and move it over into the main swatch window.

That way you can access the additional swatches just by clicking on a tab.

But you can also drag the actual color swatches from the extra swatch palettes into the main palette. To do this, click on the first swatch in the imported swatch palette, and then Shift-click on the last one. Then just drag all of the swatches into the default swatch window. They'll be added to the default swatch selections. Note: Dragging and dropping very large swatch collections can take a considerable amount of time or even lock up Illustrator. So you might want to transfer small segments of the imported swatch library instead of doing all of them at once.

Now the swatches are combined, and you can close up the extra palettes you have open. (But don't actually do that just yet because there's more.)

Adding colors to the default swatches ... permanently
Now, all of that is well and good. But what if you want to make these imported swatches a part of your default swatch library for every new document you create? I mean, if you quit Illustrator right now, relaunch it and create a new document, all of those swatches you added to your library will be gone. So how do you make them permanent?

Illustrator doesn't work the same as Photoshop in terms of how it sets defaults--swatches, brushes, patterns, etc. In order to make something like changes to the Swatch palette permanent, you have to modify the documents that Illustrator uses for its defaults.

There are two of these: one for RGB documents and one for CMYK documents.

So go onto your hard drive, and navigate to /Illustrator CS2/Plug-ins. Here you'll see the two documents we're looking for:

1. Adobe Illustrator Startup_CMYK.ai
2. Adobe Illustrator Startup_RGB.ai

Open up both of these documents in Illustrator right now.

Now, add in the imported swatches to the Swatch palette in the RGB default document, just like you did before. Then save and close the RGB default document.

Then add the imported swatches to the CMYK default document, just as you did before. Again, save and close the default CMYK document.

Finally, create a new document. Now look what happens when the document opens and the Swatches palette becomes active. Instead of defaulting to the base color swatches that came with Illustrator, it now includes all of the colors you added from your Photoshop swatch library.

That will be the case with all documents you create from now on--until you modify the default files again some day. Pretty swank!

That's it for now. If you have any questions or suggestions for future tips, be sure to visit me in the Adobe Illustrator forum at DMN Forums by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:adobe illustrator, swatches, export swatches, colors, palette, saving colors, default colors, graphic designers, illustrators


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