How to Use a Color Group to Change Multiple Swatches in Adobe Illustrator

See Adobe Illustrator: Tips and Tricks for similar articles.
Looking to improve your Illustrator skills? Check out Webucator’s Illustrator classes.

Color groups are useful for organizing custom color swatches into manageable collections that can be exported as user libraries. You can also use color groups to make global color corrections to artwork.

  1. We'll start with a photo to which Image Trace has been applied to render an illustrative effect with a limited number of colors. This palette of colors will become the color group. Image Trace Panel
  2. Because it's a traced image, the first step will be be to expand the image into its component paths by clicking the Expand button in the Control Panel. Control Panel
  3. Keeping the traced image selected, go to the Swatches Panel and click New Color Group. In the resulting dialog box, make sure Selected Artwork and Convert Process to Global are on. By using the Global Color option, we'll later be able to adjust color in the art.Swatches Panel
  4. To export the swatches, click on the color group's folder icon in the Swatches Panel, then click the Swatches menu and choose either Save Swatch Library as AI or Save Swatch Library as ASE. An AI Library can only be accessed in Illustrator files, whereas an ASE Library can be used with files created in other Adobe programs, such as InDesign. Save the library to a known location. Swatches Panel
  5. To use the library in another file, click the Swatches Panel menu and go to Open Swatch Library > Other Library and navigate to the library you saved. Swatches Panel Menu
  6. Next we'll edit the colors in the traced image. Keep the image selected and make sure the entire color group is selected in the Swatches Panel, then click the Edit or Apply Color Group button. Swatches Panel
  7. The dialog box has two tabs: Assign and Edit. Click the Edit tab. If it's grayed out, the artwork isn't selected. Recolor Artwork Dialog Box
  8. Make sure Link Harmony Colors is on, as well as Recolor Art. Recolor Artwork
  9. In this particular image, I want brighter colors, so I'll simply drag the Brightness slider (below the color wheel) slightly to the right. After clicking OK, you'll be prompted to save the changes to the color group. Recolor Art
  10. You can also manage individual colors within a color group. Here's a second color group created from selected art, although this time Include Swatches for Tints is also being used: New Color Group
  11. Because Black has been applied to some very fine lines in the art, several shades of gray have been generated as swatches. The color group would be easier to manage if they were combined into a single black swatch. After clicking the folder icon in the Swatches Panel, click Edit or Apply Color Group. Swatches Panel
  12. In the Assign tab, drag each of the grays onto the black bar under Current Colors to combine them, then click OK. Recolor Artwork
  13. Click the Swatches Panel menu and choose Select All Unused, then delete the selected swatches. Swatches Panel
  14. Next, the blue in this color group will be changed. Click the color group's folder icon in the Swathes Panel, then click Edit or Apply Color Group.
  15. Click the Edit tab in the dialog box, then click the Unlink Harmony Colors button. Recolor Artwork
  16. Make sure Recolor Art is checked. Click the blue spoke on the color wheel, then click the Adjustment Sliders menu and select RGB. Recolor Artwork
  17. Here, the blue has been changed to a shade of red. Recolor Artwork

Related Articles

  1. Creating an SVG logo
  2. How to Use the Gradient Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  3. How to Use the Gradient Mesh Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  4. How to Use a Photoshop File in Adobe Illustrator
  5. How to Use Live Paint to Color and Paint Artwork in Adobe Illustrator
  6. How to Put Type in Perspective in Adobe Illustrator
  7. How to Create Variable-width Stroke Profiles in Adobe Illustrator
  8. How to Create a Line Graph in Adobe Illustrator
  9. How to Create a Pattern Brush in Adobe Illustrator
  10. How to Use Isolation Mode in Adobe Illustrator
  11. How to Add Spot Color in Adobe Illustrator
  12. How to Use Draw Inside Mode in Adobe Illustrator
  13. How to Find and Replace in Adobe Illustrator
  14. How to Divide Basic Shapes into Component Pieces in Adobe Illustrator
  15. How to Work with Bezier Curves in Adobe Illustrator
  16. How to Create a Brochure in Adobe Illustrator
  17. How to Use the Shape Builder Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  18. How to Use the Group Selection Tool in Adobe Illustrator
  19. How to Check Spelling in Adobe Illustrator
  20. How to Use Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator
  21. How to Use Global Color Swatches in Adobe Illustrator
  22. How to Manage Artwork with Sublayers in Adobe Illustrator
  23. How to Import Illustrator Files Into Adobe Animate
  24. How to Create Shapes from Multiple Paths in Adobe Illustrator
  25. How to Adjust the Default Artboard in Adobe Illustrator
  26. How to Create a New Document in Adobe Illustrator
  27. How to Use a Color Group to Change Multiple Swatches in Adobe Illustrator (this article)
  28. How to Create a Package File from a Template in Adobe Illustrator
  29. How to Work with Hidden Characters in Adobe Illustrator
  30. How to Work with Template Layers in Adobe Illustrator
  31. How to Create Symbols for Mapping Artwork to 3D Objects in Adobe Illustrator
  32. How to Work with Threaded Text in Adobe Illustrator
  33. How to Convert Type to Outlines in Adobe Illustrator
  34. How to Use Draw Behind Mode in Adobe Illustrator
  35. How to Use Adobe Illustrator to Create Website Graphics
  36. How to Create a Custom Pattern in Adobe Illustrator
  37. How to Use Warp Design Elements in Adobe Illustrator
  38. How to Create Custom Graphics from Letter Shapes in Adobe Illustrator