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How to create unique colour schemes for your designs with Illustrator’s Colour Guide

If you’re ever struggling to come up with a colour palette for your designs, Illustrator’s Colour Guide is a great solution. Whether you are creating branding for a client, or working on a personal project, this quick tutorial will show you how you can easily change up the colours in your design to transform the overall look and feel. Follow along below!


1. Create your design

Create or open the design file you are working on. In our example, you’ll notice that this logo is already in full colour. This is necessary when using the colour guide since the guide works by sampling from the already existing colours in your design.

Note: This only works with vector files.

2.  Open Colour Guide

Under the windows panel in Illustrator find ‘Colour Guide’. This will open a dialogue box to the right side panel.

3. Select your design

Using the selection tool or group selection tool, select all of the elements you want to change the colour of. If you want to experiment with all of the colours, select the entire design.

Note: Anything black in your design will stay black.

4. Edit or Apply Colours

Once you have everything you want selected, click on the small colour wheel icon on the bottom right of the Colour Guide dialogue box.

5. Play Around!

This is where the fun happens! From here, you can experiment with numerous colour settings to create a new look for your project.

Note: You’ll notice that the colours in our logo design are very different than the original. Once the Edit or Apply Colours dialogue box opens, the hues in your design automatically change to a default setting or whatever palette it was previously set at. From here, we can start to develop our own colour scheme.

6. Harmony Rules

A great place to start when developing your new palette is at the top dropdown menu. This menu includes a variety of colour harmonies like complimentary, analogous, triads, high contrast, etc. 

7. Edit

Once you choose which harmony you like best, you can then go into the ‘Edit’ panel. This is where you can adjust the colours in your selected harmony using either the colour wheel or the Hue, Saturation, Brightness sliders underneath.

Note: Moving the toggles on the colour wheel aroundtoward or away from the centre of the wheel affects the Hue, Saturation and Brightness. You can alternatively use the sliders below to do the same thing.

8. Experiment

Play around with a combination of different harmony and editing settings until you have found your desired aesthetic. Once you like what you see, click ‘OK’.

9. Manual Adjustments

Feel free to manually adjust any colours in your new palette. In our example, we changed the sun back to a orange-yellow hue rather than keeping the teal that the colour guide set it at.

You’re done!

And voila! You’re finished!

We usually like to try a few different variations before we commit to one colour scheme. To do this, just duplicate your design and do these steps all over again! Here are some of the colour combos we choose for our design. We love how each combination gives the logo a different vibe.

We hope this was a helpful beginners tutorial for the Colour Guide. Happy designing!

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