by infinite_resolution


April 1, 2009

Finding Illustrator Swatches in Bridge

Contributed by Ian Giblin, Illustrator Team Torch Bearer
If you work extensively with color swatches in Illustrator organizing, finding, and sharing them becomes really important. Many users need to be able to share palettes with a large team and they need to be able to find colors based on their naming conventions, locally, or on a server.

Customers have told us,
• I need to search for specific colors or swatches within palettes (or files) without having to open them.
• I need to make palettes of colors and share them with other Adobe apps and I want to preview them easily.

Enhancements to Bridge and Illustrator make this possible.

Get started in Illustrator using the Swatches panel to create spot, process or non-global process swatches or add swatches from other imported swatch libraries (including Pantone, Toyo, HKS, Focoltone, DIC, ANPA, TRUMATCH) or create named collections of swatches called Color Groups (CS3 or later.)Once you have created or loaded the swatches that you want to be in your Library and you’re ready to save them for sharing with Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign you can go to Illustrator’s Swatches panel flyout menu and choose “Save Swatch Library as ASE” (Adobe Swatch Exchange)…swatch01.jpgAfter choosing “Save Swatch Library as ASE”, you’ll see a dialog describing the limitations of the ASE format, “Swatches containing gradients, patterns or tints are not currently exchangeable and will not be visible when opening this swatch file in other applications.” Note: if you don’t need to share swatches with other Adobe applications, only Illustrator, you can choose “Save Swatch Library as AI.” You won’t have a swatch preview (unique to ASE libraries, described below) but you will have your gradients, patterns or tints available in Illustrator.Launch Adobe Bridge and navigate to the location where your ASE file was saved. Again, remember, this can be on your local machine or on a server if you are collaborating with others.Click on the ASE library in the Bridge window.In Bridge, make sure the Metadata Panel is showing. (Window>Metadata Panel.)Scroll down until the “Document Swatches” item is showing…swatch02.jpgYou can see that the names of all of the swatches contained in the ASE library are displayed. The same icons used within Illustrator to denote color type (Spot, process,etc) and color mode (RGB, CMYK, LAB, Grayscale) are also displayed.How do you find specific libraries that contain a particular swatch?The Bridge Find Criteria options have been enhanced to help you.In Bridge, choose Edit>FindWhen the Bridge Find window appears choose Swatch Name from the Criteria list and then type a word and click Find.Bridge will find all ASE files that use swatches that contain that word.So, you could find all the libraries that contain swatches with “spring” in their name (or Pantone 100, for example.)swatch03.jpgAnother handy feature that allows you to get a look at what’s in an ASE library without having to open it is the Bridge preview. I’m showing three screenshots from different pages of the same Library preview below, I can see all of my swatches and color groups (if you see a white line between swatches that denotes the start or end of a color group.)swatch04.jpgThe great thing about this Swatch Name/Color Group metadata is that you don’t have to do anything special to turn it on. Adobe writes it out for you and it is available to find in Bridge not only in ASE files but also for regular Adobe Illustrator files.Select any Illustrator file in Bridge and scroll to find the “Document Swatches” metadata.swatch05.jpgWhether you work alone or collaborate with a large working group I hope these tips for finding Illustrator swatches in Bridge come in handy.Just in case you’re not that familiar with Libraries in Illustrator, when you find the swatches you are looking for how do you load them into Illustrator for use?At the bottom left of the Illustrator Swatches panel there is a “Swatch Libraries Menu” button.Click on that and choose “Other Library…”swatch06.jpgNavigate to the ASE or AI file of your choice and load.It will open as a floating Library panel.This is really a bonus Tip but since we are talking efficient use of libraries…if you really like (or need) a library panel to appear every time you launch Illustrator, load it, click on the library panel flyout menu and turn on “Persistent.”swatch07.jpg


  • By Jeff Jenkins - 11:16 AM on April 3, 2009  

    Great blog!

  • By Jeff Jenkins - 11:20 AM on April 3, 2009  

    This is a great blog.

  • By DavidTheDave - 5:11 PM on November 18, 2012  

    Images not showing…

    • By Terry Hemphill - 12:32 PM on November 27, 2012  

      Sorry, David. The issue with the images has been fixed.

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