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The Color Thief: Stealing Colors Using Illustrator CS3's LiveTrace

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Adobe Ambassador Mike McHugh wants you to get excited about color. In this colorful article, he shows you how to create swatches in Adobe's Creative Suite 3 using Adobe Illustrator's new LiveColor tool.
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Let’s get excited about color! When out and about with my digital camera, I sometimes take photos of very mundane but colorful objects—just to capture the colors in a particular scene. Sometimes it’s a city skyline or a landscape—it can be anything. I then take the image into Illustrator and use LiveTrace to steal its lovely colors.

In this tutorial, we’ll use the LiveTrace feature in Illustrator CS3 to sample a handful of colors from the photograph shown in Figure 1. We’ll then turn those colors into a Swatch Library to share with other Creative Suite applications such as Adobe InDesign CS3 and Flash CS3. Using the new LiveColor feature in Illustrator CS3, we’ll also recolor some existing artwork. Sound like fun? You bet it will be!

1. Pick an Image

To start, pick a photograph you’ve taken that has some colors in it that you want to sample. I selected this city skyline (see Figure 1) because I like the blues of the sky and the golden reflections on the building. I even like the color of the low-lying smog. I encourage you to try your own image here if you have one you think will fit the bill.

Figure 01

Figure 1 Colorful Sydney skyline, ripe for the picking

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