Making tint swatches in Adobe Illustrator

As a students at University of Manitoba, we were raised on Macromedia FreeHand. Not long after entering the working world, Freehand was enveloped and later disolved by Adobe. Kind of a bummer as I always found FreeHand’s handling of bezier curves far more natural than Illustrator’s. I also liked how FreeHand allowed you to quickly create tints of colour swatches and save them within your working palette.  One partial workaround would include playing with transparency, but that of course opened up all kinds of issues when that object was placed over other objects.

But then I discovered this neat little trick: From within the Colour (OK, color, to be exact) palette, hold shift, before dragging any of the CMYK (or RGB) sliders. While dragging, it automatically adjusts each value in proportion, making a tint of the original colour. Then save that new swatch to your colour group. Or create a new group just for your tints. I found this immensely useful recently when developing an over-populated pie chart.

Give it a try for yourself. If you have any favorite FreeHand-like workarounds of your own, I’d love to hear about them.

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Carson D. Samson

I do stuff. All kinds of stuff. And I really, really like Star Wars.

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  • Marianne

    Maybe, sins this was posted in 2011, you will know already:
    To make a tint swatch in Illustrator:
    1.) Create your color swatch
    2.) Open by double clicking on it
    3.) Check the ‘Global’ box and close
    In the ‘Color’ tab the value sliders will have changed to the single tint slider
    4.) Select the tint you want and drag the swatch to the ‘Swatches’ tab

  • Excellent suggestion – Yes, a global swatch does pretty much make this process redundant. Thanks for the comment!