Illustrator Rich Black, Poor Black

I have been working with Illustrator for some time and I have had a lot of people ask about problems with the color black. There are several problems that can crop up when using black in Illustrator, understanding how to use the “Appearance of Black” settings should help clear this up. As a note, this setting also shows up in Adobe InDesign and is imporant.

What do the “Appearance of Black” settings mean in human terms?

Appearance of black is a setting in Adobe Illustrator that allows you to change how the color black is shown on your screen and how it is output to your printer and exported RGB images.

What is “Rich Black”? Rich black is a deep black that is very dark. Regular black is a very dark grey. The difference mainly matters in printing. A typical rich black mixture might be 100% black ink, and 50% of each of the other three inks (Cyan, Yellow and Magenta).

When you use the “Black” swatch in Illustrator, you get regular black (100% Black and 0% CMY).

Illustrator 100K Black and Rich Black

Setting these preferences in Illustrator

Choose Edit > Preferences > Appearance Of Black (Windows) or [ application name ] > Preferences > Appearance Of Black (Mac OS).

rbpbs.jpg

1. Choose an option for On Screen:

Display All Blacks Accurately: This setting will show all blacks acurately seen in the image below.

Rich black next to Regular black

Display All Blacks As Rich Black: This setting will show all blacks as rich black, even if they are not rich black.

different blacks displaying the same

2. Choose an option for Printing/Exporting using the above reference:

Output All Blacks Acurately:
When printing to a non-PostScript desktop printer or exporting to an RGB file format, outputs black colors as seen above. This setting allows you to see the difference between pure black and rich black.

Output all blacks acurately

Output All Blacks As Rich Black:
When printing to a non-PostScript desktop printer or exporting to an RGB file format, outputs pure CMYK black as jet black (RGB=000). This setting makes pure black and rich black appear the same.

Output al blacks as Rich Black

Other Issues with black in Illustrator:

Placed Photoshop files with black backgrounds when placed over vector black can sometimes create a problem. If you are having a problem where the black in your Photoshop file doesn’t match the black in your illustrator file, try the steps below. Additionally illustrator images not being pure black in Photoshop can relate to this information.

Use the Eyedropper tool in Illustrator to make the vector black the same color as the Photoshop black. To do this, select the black vector shape and then select the Eyedropper tool, click the Eyedropper tool on the black from the placed Photoshop file.

That should clear up the problem.

As a final note regarding colors when printing: Always consult the printer for each type of printing you are doing. Rich black and other color settings will most likely be different for each printer and print provider.

Create Vector and Bitmap Graphics online for free

 Have you ever wanted to create vector or bitmap graphics but did’t have all of the expensive programs to work in? Well I got wind of this website/project called Aviary which allows you to do just that. 

Create graphics online for free

Aviary has created applications mimicking all of the popular graphics programs out there today. I will list the different programs, what they do and some examples of work created by people. I find it quite amazing what you can do with these programs — and they are all free.  Aviary uses names of bird species for each of their programs.

Image Editor (Similar to Photoshop, Paint Shop, Gimp, etc.) which is called Pheonix and is depicted by a very nice Peonix icon. Pheonix has all of the basic things you need to edit an image which include: clone tool, magic wand, filters, selection tools, smudge, layers and image resizing.

To Give Pheonix (image editor) a try click here.

Here are some of the popular images that I really like. These were created in Pheonix by regular users:

 

Apple Created with the Pheonix Editor
Apple Created with the Pheonix Editor

 

Flower graphic created with Pheonix
Flower graphic created with Pheonix

 

Very cool. Also created in Pheonix

 

 

Vector Editor (similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, Signlab, etc) which is called Raven and is depicted by a Black Raven icon. Raven has some of the basic things you need to edit an image. Raven is new, so more features will be coming out. Some of the existing features include: pen tool, pencil tool, brush tool, basic vector object tool, gradient editor, layers and smart selection. They also have a simple bitmap to vector tool.

To give Raven (vector editor) a try click here.

Here are some of the popular vector drawings that I really like. These were created in Raven by regular users:

Great vector illustration created with Raven
Great vector illustration created with Raven

 

Beautiful tree with a river and coy fish created in Raven
Beautiful tree with a river and coy fish created in Raven

 

Visual laboratory (not much like it on the market) which is called Peacock and is depicted by the Peacock bird. Peacock enables you to create amazing images with the use of filters, images and other mathematical effects. This application can be daunting at first, so be sure to watch the video on how to use it first.

To give Peacock (color chooser) a try click here.

Here are some stunning images created using Peacock:

Effect created using Peacock
Effect created using Peacock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Created in Peacock
Created in Peacock

 

Color chooser and mixer (not much like it on the market) which is called Toucan and is depicted by the colorful Toucan bird. Toucan enables you to create correct color compositions and includes and complimentary, split, etc, color mixer/chooser. You really have to mess around with it to get what it does. It is important for any kind of graphic design when having to choose a number of colors and make them harmonic.

To give Toucan (color chooser) a try click here.

Many more. In addition to the above 4 applications they are supposed to be coming out with many more useful ones. This is a list of the ones I think are quite useful:

       Desktop Publishing (InDesign, Quark Express, etc) called Owl.

       Painting Simulator (Corel Paint, Photoshop, etc) called Pigeon — haha.

       Smart Image resizer (Genuine Fractals) called Woodpecker.

       3D Modeler (3DS Max, Maya, Blender, Sketchup) called Hummingbird.

       Font Creator (TypeTool, FontForge) called Ibis. (This one is particularly exciting to me).

There are more, see them all here.

Cloning Basics

Photoshop Cloning

This tutorial will give you an idea of how to productively clone an object out of an image.

Some people might wonder why it is called cloning. This is because you are creating a part of the image
that was not there from other parts of the image. In this tutorial I will tell you some of the basics. Please bear with me, it is difficult to show you in detail every step without overbloating the post with images.

Level: Intermediate (can be useful for advanced Photoshop users)

Photoshop Version: CS4 (Can apply to Earlier versions up to Photoshop 6)

Tutorial:

In this image is a bug that we are going to remove. We are going to clone it out by placing pieces of the image over it until it is gone. Each person using Photoshop will have their own way of doing this — so take note: this is my way of doing this particular action.

The first thing we want to do is to clone out the major part of the image by using a piece of the image, here we select a square part of the petal.

Next, go to [Layer->New->Layer via Copy] to copy the selected square to a new layer above the background image.
Next, drag the copied layer over the part of the bug as shown here.
Select the eraser tool and select a brush with a very blurry edge.

Then erase a little bit all the way around the piece of the petal.

Next, while holding down the [Alt] key, drag the image piece to cover up different places of the bug as shown below. (Don’t worry if it goes over the edge of the petal — in the next step we will clean this up.

From the last step you will have made numerous layers when you were copying the piece to cover up the bug, now you will need to merge all of the layers above the background layer as shown here.

Once you have merged all of the layers, select the eraser tool. Select a brush with a slightly blurred edge. go around the edge of the shape with the brush, cleaning up any part where the color blured over the edge.
After that, using the clone tool, clone out the major parts of the bug that can be easilty cloned. Use a sensible brush size with a bit of blur when cloning.

Next, zoom up to the detailed part on the bottom side of the bug. Clone out the leftover parts of the bug with a small brush. You can be kind of sloppy here because we will be doing some cleanup work on this part later.

Then merge both layers as shown below.

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool.

Select the area around the petal and the leaf.


Feather the selection with a 15 pixel radius.

Changing specific color regions in an image

 

Level: Intermediate (can be useful for advanced users)

Description:

This is a tutorial on changing specific colors in an image using the color range tool in Photoshop.

You can use this tutorial to easily change regions of color in an image to different colors. This can be very useful if you want to make a part of an image fit into the color scheme of the background or even just changing the color of someones dress or a clothing item.

Photoshop Version: CS2 (Can apply to Earlier versions up to Photoshop 7)

Tutorial:

The first step here is to go to the menu [Select->Color Range].

Then click on the area of color in the image that you want to change. Here we are clicking on a red part of the women’s dress.

The end goal for this tutorial is to change the color of her dress.

You can use the plus and minus eyedropper buttons to add more regions of color to the selection. Here we are just using one sampling of red. Adjust the fuzziness. (The amount of similar colors to the one you clicked to add to the range. If you go higher it will select any kind of red, if you go lower, it will only select a ceartain amount of reds similar the the area of her dress that you clicked)

Click ok to see the selected area of the image. As you can see here, we selected her dress but her lips are close to the same color so they were selected as well. The next step shows you how to remove those areas that you want to leave alone.

Click on the “Edit in quick mask mode button on the toolbox. This will bring you into the “Quick Mask” mode which will allow you to edit the selection by using the brush tool.

All of the areas that are pink are the areas that are not selected. Select the brush tool and make sure your foreground color is black. Paint out the area around her lips and head. This will remove the selection from those areas.

Once you have done this, click the “edit in standard mode” in the toolbox. This will return you to standard mode where you can see the dancing ants around what is selected. You will notice that the area that you painted out is no longer selected.

Now you can do whatever you want with her dress because you now have it selected. Here I show you how to change her dress color from red to purple. Go to the Menu [Image->Adjustments->Hue/Saturation] and set the settings shown here. You can also experiment with the sliders to see what colors you can get.

Here is the finished dress showing the color has been changed.

Creating a glass button

Make a glass looking button. This is a similar style to the Windows Vista Task bar.

Level: Intermediate

Photoshop Version: CS2 (Can be done in Earlier versions up to Photoshop CS)

How to:

First create a blank photoshop document using these settings: Width: 4 inches, Height: 1 inch, DPI: 300.

    

Select the rounded rectangle tool as shown here:

Draw a rounded rectangle in a similar fashion to this. I used a Corner Radius of .125 in. You can change the radius as you like. More radius makes the corner more rounded, less radius makes the corner sharper.

Change the foreground color to white and draw another rounded rectangle as you see here. You can change the radius for this as well. To make a more glossy look, decrease the radius, to make a duller shine, increase the radius. You can make many different variations of glass buttons using this technique. There are many other techniques as well for creating glass buttons. This is one of them.

    

Next, change the opacity of the white rectangle you just made to 17 percent. You can adjust the percentage as you would like. The higher the percent the more you give the feeling of a strong light pointing at the button, the less the percent, it gives the appearance of a dull light.

    

Next, select the Elliptical Marquee Tool.

Using the Elliptical Marquee tool, make a shape similar to this and fill it with a color you desire. Experiment with different colors, to get different effects.

    

Next, go to [Filter->Blur->Gaussian Blur] and use the settings shown here. You can adjust them as you like.

Next with the blue layer selected press “Command T” or go to [Edit->Free Tranform] and while holding “Alt/Option” drag until the tranform bounding box reaches the edges of the button.

Next, while holding command click on the black rectangle layer. This will select the black rounded rectangle. Then select the blue layer. Once you have done this press “Command + Shift + i” or go to [Select->Inverse]. This will reverse the selection, so it is now selecting the opposite to what was selected before.

    

Press “Delete” or go to [Edit->Clear].

Your glass button is now complete.

You can also try putting a very transparent image above the black and below the blue. This gives a reflection effect which is really quite innovative.

Here you can see the final button: