How can I make a tint for a colour in Adobe Illustrator? It’s a question I’m asked regularly by Illustrator users.
There are two issues with the default settings when defining new colour swatches in Illustrator:
- When you apply the default colour swatches in Illustrator to your artwork, the swatch colour is not associated with the swatch in the Swatches panel. This means that changing the colour settings for a referenced swatch colour has no effect at all on the artwork that once referenced this colour. The two are unrelated.
- Creating tints or shades of the colours when applying the default Swatch colours is difficult. Although you can use the Color panel, and press Shift-key whilst dragging the sliders, the colour that is created is in no way associated with the original Swatch colour.
Let’s have a look at how we can define Swatch colours in such a way that both of these issues are resolved.
Defining colours in Illustrator
First let’s add a new colour swatch in Illustrator:
- Display the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches).
- From the Swatches panel menu choose New Swatch.
- In the New Swatch dialog that appears, set the colour breakdown.
If we were to click ‘OK’ at this stage, creating a tint when applying the new Swatch colour will be difficult, and there is no link between the applied swatch colour and the swatch in the Swatches panel. You’d need to access the Color Panel, and apply the swatch colour, then whilst holding down the Shift key on the keyboard drag the colour sliders to create a lighter or darker version of the swatch colour.
- Before clicking OK, there’s one more step to complete: Enable the Global option in the dialog box, and (optional) name the colour. Global means editing the swatch colour consequently updated the colour of all objects to which this colour was applied within the illustration.
- Global colours are easily recognised in the Swatches panel, as there thumbnail is marked by a small white triangle.
- An added bonus of applying Global colours to your artwork means you can now much more easily apply tints of Swatch colours to your artwork, and as you edit the Swatch colour, all artwork that is associated with any tint of the colour that is applied will update to reflect the colour change.
For a visual example of the default and Global swatch colour behaviour, please also refer to the following YouTube video: