In the process of creating illustrations that consist of thousands of vector objects, a digital artist may lose control over color harmony. I personally always want to slightly adjust color and contrast after completing work. Selecting and recovering objects traditionally is a long and tedious task with no guarantees that you will get the desired result. Color correction can be easily and quickly performed with the help quite familiar to Photoshop users – Levels, Curves and Hue / Saturation features that are available in Illustrator with Phantasm. Let’s see how it works…
There are two ways to use the Phantasm tools of color correction. You can apply Phantasm filters (Object > Filters > Phantasm > …) or Phantasm Effects (Effect > Phantasm > …). If you apply filters, you get to “hard change” the color characteristics where your only option to revert to original is to Undo (Cmd / Ctrl + Z) … if immediately available. If you are using Phantasm’s Effects, at any time you can change the Effects parameters by opening a dialog box with the help of the Effects’ entry in the Appearance panel. Therefore this is a non-destructive way of color correction, similar to Adjustment Layers in Photoshop. Let’s look at color correction on the example of Castle vector artwork. The process of its creation is described here.
Adjust the tonal range using Phantasm Levels or Phantasm Curves Effects. The Phantasm Levels feature is used for color correction of vector or embedded bitmap images by adjusting the levels intensity in shadows, intermediate tones and bright areas of the image. Select the entire artwork and opt for Effect > Phantasm > Levels….
Here we can see a histogram of our vector illustrations and three sliders below it. Moving the black slider to the right makes dark areas such as shadows darker.
Moving the white slider to the left makes the bright areas brighter.
If we move the middle slider to the left, then we make the intermediate tones of an image lighter.
Moving this slider to the right makes intermediate tones darker.
Now colors are more vibrant. For advanced users there are additional options in the Levels dialog box, most of which are necessary to prepare an image for printing.
An alternative way to adjust the tonal range is by using the Phantasm Curves Effect (Effect > Phantasm > Curves…).
This feature adjusts points in the entire tonal range of the image. Initially, image tonality is represented by a straight diagonal line on the graph. Light is represented in the upper right corner of the graph, shadows in the lower left corner. In contrast to the Levels feature, which has three control points, Curves have more. You can change the shape of the graph by adding new points to it. Steeper areas of the curve represent areas of high contrast, while flatter areas of the curve represent areas of low contrast.
The Curves feature allows you to edit the color channels either separately or simultaneously. Depending on the color model of the document, channels will be offered in RGB or CMYK color mode.
Advanced options allow you to save and download the parameters of the effect, to prepare an image for printing, and much more.
Hue / Saturation (Effect > Phantasm > Hue / Saturation…) can help us simultaneously manage hue, saturation and lightness of vector and bitmap embedded images.
We can also customize one of the six color ranges, for example, Reds.
When doing so, other color ranges will not be affected by the changes. With these settings you can change the mood of illustration, adding bias to warmer or colder tones.
Color correction allows you to make the image more attractive, create a visual mood and correct errors which arose when choosing colors. Thanks to live Phantasm Effects you can always change the settings or return to the original view of an image by disabling effect entries in the Appearance panel.
In addition to the features mentioned above, Phantasm has 5 more functions allowing you to work with color. These are Desaturate, Duotone, Invert, Shift to Color, Temperature / Tint. All will prove to be useful in your workflow.