Friday, September 7, 2012

Style Boards - How to make a swatch pallet in Illustrator

One of the things I've been meaning to do since I started Print Smitten was to gather all my branding elements into one, easy to find document.  An easy way to design your brand is to create a style board. Style boards are not just for businesses. They can be used for party planning, room designs or just about anything you want to create. If you do a search on pinterest for style boards, you will find a ton of inspiration.

The Print Smitten brand was inspired by bright colors with a simple modern twist and a bit of whimsy thrown in. See my style board and tips on how to create your own mini style board in Illustrator after the break.

When you are creating different graphics for different sites, it's so important to have all your colors, elements and fonts be the same throughout your brand. The easiest way to do this is to create a swatches pallet in Adobe Illustrator to keep on hand that can easily be pulled up and used no matter what document you are in at the time.

Below is my style board for Print Smitten. This was easily created in about 10 minutes in Illustrator. I already had my logo, fonts, colors etc. picked out. It was just a matter of organizing all these elements in Illustrator so they were easily accessible.

As you can see, it doesn't need to be anything fancy. Like I said, about 10 minutes of my time is going to save me hours and hours in the future.

The colors and graphic elements of your brand can be saved in the swatches pallet in Illustrator as I said before. Here is a brief explanation on how I did it to make it fast and easy.

Step 1 

open a new document in Illustrator. My board happens to be 400px square but your board can be any size you wish.

Step 2

I created a set of squares to fill with my colors and lined them up to make them pretty. Fill your squares with your colors.

Step 3

Add your fonts and other elements. Be creative but remember this is just a reference and you don't need to spend hours doing this.

Step 4

Open you swatches pallet. Select All the colors currently in the pallet by default by click shifting and drag them to the trash can at the bottom of the pallet box.

Step 5

now you have a clean slate to work from. At the top right of the pallet box, click the drop down arrow and select "add selected colors". This will automatically add all your brand colors to the pallet. If you have any patterns or other little icons or graphics you want to add such as my heart and circles, you can select them individually and drag them to the pallet.

Step 6

Yah! Now you have all your colors and elements in the swatches pallet! But we are not done. You have to save the pallet and make is accessible in any document you start right? At the top of the pallet click the drop down menu again and all the way at the bottom, select "save swatches as AI". Name your pallet and save!

That's it. Test it out by opening a new document, selecting the swatches pallet, clicking the drop down menu again and selecting "user defined" you will see you pallet listing there to pull up and use. To get your elements back on the page simply click and drag them out of the pallet and they are there ready for you to use and resize!

Hope this helps you organize your brand or party or whatever it is you are working on. Leave a comment below and let me know how this works for you!

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