Design 10C

Monochromatic Letter Project


The assignment:  

Produce an 11 step monochromatic palette progressing from the lightest tint to the darkest shade, and use it to design a page featuring a monochromatic color scheme. In this first monochromatic assignment, the predominant graphic image must be a letter or number form. The letter can be from any language and may be repeated. 



What’s a monochromatic palette?  

A color scheme that includes only tints and shades of a single color.


What’s a tint?  

A tint is the lightening of a color by the addition of white. On a computer screen, the white comes from the background “white” color of the screen. We will tint colors by decreasing all of the other components of the color in relation to the white screen.


What’s a shade?  

A shade is the darkening of a color by the addition of black. On a computer screen, we shade a color by moving the black slider in the CMYK display.


How do I make this 11 step palette?  

We will do it in two steps. First you will create an 11 step gray palette, and then you will choose a color and use it to produce a matching monochrome palette. Make the tints and shades in the monochrome palette match the light levels in the gray palette. The result will look like this:


You use the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) sliders in the Color Pallet to create the colors. In the gray scale, all the colors will be set to zero. Select the rectangle you wish to work with and type in the corresponding percentage of black from the chart above and hit enter. You can get an even progression in this manner without using any visual skills. 

To create the color side, start by reproducing just one of the rectangles and filling it with the color of your choice. (Start with a color that that contains no black or white. If you pick a sample in the rainbow Color Bar, pick one from the center of the bar (the equator). The ones at the top and bottom have already been tinted or shaded. Now move this first colored rectangle up and down next to the gray scale until you find the place where the light value of the color matches the light value of gray scale. This will be your middle value. You will create “tints” of this color above this level and “shades” of this color below. 

Let’s do the tints first. Make a copy of the middle value rectangle you just worked with and place it in the open space above the middle value rectangle. With this new rectangle selected, hold down the SHIFT key and use the mouse to slide any of the color selectors a little to the left. Notice how all of the color sliders moved with the one you moved. This maintained the color proportion in the tint, and it happened because you held down the shift key. If you hadn’t, only one of the color sliders would have moved and the color would have changed. Try to match the light value in your new tint to the light value of the gray rectangle to the left of it. Now make a copy of your new tint, place it in the next space up, and tint it to match the gray scale. Keep this up until you reach the top slot. 

To make the shades, you make a copy of your middle value rectangle and move it down to the first open spot below your middle value rectangle. Leave the color sliders alone and move the black slider a little to the right. This will darken the color without changing its hue. Try to match the light value in your new shade to the light value of the gray rectangle to the left of it. Use this copying and darkening process repeatedly until you reach the bottom slot.   

How do I use this in producing my design?  

Select the whole thing and move it to a place on your screen that is outside the print area. As you create the shapes and lines that make up your monochromatic design, you can use the eyedropper tool to pick colors from the palette you just produced.



The following information is excerpted from the Name & 3 Lines project many of you may be familiar with from Design 1 or 2. I have included it here to help those that have never used the Type Tool get started. You won’t need to type your name, but you will use the same tools in creating your letter.


How do I write my name in there?  

Now click the selection tool to see your name as the selected object.


How do I change the typeface? How do I change the size?  

(See your instructor for more advanced and exotic type changing tools once you have mastered the basics).


How do I move things around?  


How do I turn the page on its side?  


How do I save what I’ve done?  


You don’t need this information to complete either of the monochrome projects. However, people with backgrounds in painting always ask about this after confronting the slider bars for the first time. So……, read on if you are interested.

Alas,....this only works in Illustrator 9 (or earlier versions), in Illustrator 10 the tool was changed.


How do I mix two colors, or gray them using the compliment? I don’t see anything in the slider bars that let me do this. 

Illustrator doesn’t have a way to mix colors with the slider bars, but it does have a neat way to accomplish that using one of the pathfinder filters.

Create any shape and fill it with one of the colors you want to combine, then make a second shape and fill it with the other color. Arrange the shapes so that they overlap at some point, creating a shared area between them. Now do the following:

Illustrator will then mix the two colors in the area where the two shapes overlap. You can use the eyedropper tool to sample this color and use it anywhere else you like. You can play with the mix rate to get any proportion you want. This filter has lots of slick uses besides mixing colors. Ask me if you are interested. (see "Soft Mix" in the shadow tutorial)

In Illustrator 10, "soft mix" was moved to the Effects pull down menu. In it's new form, it no longer creates separate filled shapes, and the objects affected must be grouped. Since the resulting color is not contained in an independent shape, it can't be sampled with the eyedropper tool.


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