7 days of PS Actions, graphics, templates & fonts - for free!* Unlimited asset downloads! Start 7-Day Free Trial
FREELessons: 13Length: 1.3 hours

Next lesson playing in 5 seconds

  • Overview
  • Transcript

2.3 Color Harmonies

Now we will be exploring color harmonies and how Illustrator can help us by suggesting colors that work well together. We’ll also look at how we can set a mood for or artwork.

1 lesson, 01:43


2.Adobe Illustrator Program Overview
3 lessons, 21:49

Color Models

Color Panel

Color Harmonies

3.Shapes and Lines
2 lessons, 12:03

Global Colors

Spot Colors

4.Manipulate Shapes and Lines
3 lessons, 21:07

Swatch Groups

Replace and Merge

Custom Libraries

5.Colors and Effects
3 lessons, 18:06

Recolor With the Artwork Panel

Putting the Recolor Panel to Work

Process Color to Spot Color

1 lesson, 01:14


2.3 Color Harmonies

Hi, my name is Simona, and welcome to tuts+. You are watching the course Mastering Color in Adobe Illustrator CC, and this is lesson Color Harmonies. In this lesson, we will be exploring color harmonies, and how Illustrator can help us adjust colors that work well together, and how we can set a mode for our artwork? So, let's get started. Let's open up Adobe Illustrator CC, and the source file called lesson 2.3 in your source file folder. I colored the tents, with a red and a beige color. And we have some trees here on the side, that need some color as well. Now, sometimes, it is easy to pick colors that work well together, and sometimes, some colors can clash. Adobe Illustrator offers us a color guide, so let me pull out the Color Guide panel from the right here. Now, the Color Guide works as following. Any time, I pick a color from the Swatches panel. I set a base color, and then the Color Guide will present me with a range of shades, and tints. The Color Guide comes with 23 Color Harmonies as well, and we can find them here, in the drop down. We can access them by clicking on the arrow here, and then we can choose one of the Harmony Rules. Either the complementary, or the monochromatic, shades, triads, and so on. Now it's called Color Harmonies, which is just a group of colors the Illustrator suggests to us, based on the Harmony Rules we picked, but the name Color Harmony doesn't mean they will work together. They are neither good, nor bad, so to speak. It's just the Harmony Rule, based on the color wheel. So since, we have two colors here in our artwork, and we would like to add the variety of green colors that go well with the red, for the trees, we can select the red color as the base color, and then, the Color Guide gets updated. And we can see, what Harmony Rule would work for our artwork. Please feel free to try out these Harmony Rules, and play around with different base colors. The sky is the limit. In the color guide, we now see colors that are related to the base color, the red one. And in case, you don't see any related color to it, just make sure that you click the red color here, and then the color guide will be updated. Now, I think the Left Complement, Harmony Rules might work well, and will give us a nice set of greens for the trees. So, when we select a harmony, Left Complement, we will now get four related colors to the red, and this shades, and tints. The tints get made, by mixing the white, or the paper color, with the related colors from up here. And the shades are produced by mixing black, with those colors. The more on the left, the more desaturated, and darker they are. Of course, we could select greens from our Swatches panels, but the default color swatches in Adobe Illustrator are based on bright, rich colors. And what if we wanted just some shades, and tints without moving the sliders around, until we find the color we like? That's where the Color Guide comes in, and does really all the work for us. So, let's add some greens to the trees. So, we select the shape we want to fill, and then click on one of the swatches in the Color Guide. Now, the shape has been filled with the green. Now, we can continue, and add more greens to the trees, just like this. One lighter green for this one. Then another one, more desaturated green for this trio over here. And then just use the same green of the first tree, for the small one over there. Now we, select the tree trunks, and pick a color from the brown tints. Okay, not bad, you might say. But I hate the green, you selected. Well, I might answer, you can choose from different harmonies as well. There really is no rule. Color is subjective, and one might like forest green, and another doesn't. So, we can just select the shape, and then pick another Harmony Rule. Maybe the high contrast four. And then we can pick another green. Let me remove this strong color, and then let's add our colors as a Harmony Rule to the Color Guide. So, let's select all, and then click on the New Color Group icon in the Swatches panel. And in the pop up, we'll give it a name. I will call mine, circus. And then we leave the default settings as is, and then click OK. Now, we have a new color group with all the swatches we use in our artwork. Now, if you were to pick another color from the panel here, you will see that the Color Guide will update the Harmonies. Now, what if you like the colors right away, and want to use all of those in your artwork? Well, there is another easy way to add those colors from the Color Guide to the Swatches panel. All we have to do is click on the arrow here, and select Save Colors as Swatches, and voila. They have been added as a Color Group to the Swatches panel. Now, what happened to the colors we picked before, you might ask. Well, there is no problem. All we have to do is, if you wanted to go back to the colors we added as a group, the ones from our artwork, we'll need to select a group, and then in the Color Guide it will update the Color Harmony, just like this. Now, you can also just pick a few colors from the Color Guide, and then add them to the Swatches panel. For example, if you dont want all of the colors, you just start selecting the colors you like just like this, then you press the Ctrl or the Cmd key in Mac, and you click the other one you want to add. And then maybe a third, and maybe a fourth. Just make sure you keep Ctrl or Cmd+clicked while you select the colors. Then, we save them again as Swatches, and boom, we have another Color Group, just with the swatches that we just selected. Now there is no limit to your imagination, and you can pick, and mix any colors you like. The Color Guide is really as the name suggest, just a guide, and all is up to you, and what mode you would like to set your artwork in. Here are some examples of colors I have picked through the Color Guide, and Harmony Rules. And then, I have applied to the tents, and the trees. As you can see, some are more bright, others are more dark, and cooler, and some are really just like, faded pastel colors. Just go crazy, and pick any color you like, and color your artwork, and with the help of the Color Guides, I bet you can come up with some awesome groups. And now, we are at the end of this lesson about Color Harmonies, and how to pick your colors, and add them to the Swatches panel. Colors set moods, so don't be afraid to pick the colors you like, and mix them up. It is your creative expression afterall. So, let's move on to the next lesson, and learn more about the process colors, and how to set them up properly?

Back to the top