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Part: Four Color and Effects > The Slippery Science of Color

Chapter 14. The Slippery Science of Color

Back before I immersed myself in computer graphics, I could never understand how companies could own colors. In a world where colors are as free and abundant as dirt, color technologies such as Technicolor and the Pantone Matching System represent multimillion-dollar businesses. Even children's Crayola colors are trademarked. Is no tint of grassy green or hue of rosy red safe from these marauding color pirates?

The fact is, the colors we see in nature are ours to enjoy, free from corporate intrusion. But it takes technology and science to represent colors in film, in photographs, on the printed page, and on your computer screen. For example, to represent a sprig of evergreen on a piece of paper, you can't take the sprig and mush it into the paper fibers. You have to find natural and synthetic colors that blend together to create a reasonable facsimile. This imitation of the real world is what the slippery science of color is all about.

In this chapter, I explain a little bit about color theory and a whole lot about how color works in Illustrator. I show you how to select colors from predefined, trademarked libraries and how to define your own colors using combinations of primary printing pigments. I also introduce Illustrator's restrictive color space for each document, the Color palette, the Swatches palette, the color filters, and all the other major points of interest along Illustrator's Great Color Way.

Color technology is one of the most complex areas of computer graphics. But even if you're brand-spanking new to the subject, you have reason to rejoice: You're using a decent computer, you own Adobe Illustrator (a most capable color editor), and you're armed with this helpful book (need I say more?). How can you possibly go wrong?

The color space in Illustrator is restricted to either CMYK or RGB. This is to help avoid production problems where RGB colors—especially those in images—are separated as part of process printing. You shouldn't feel constrained by the restriction, though. You can easily switch from one color space to another. More on this later in this chapter.



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