$180 of design goods for JUST $1. Join Plus today for your discounted first month! Join Now
Custom Skin Tone Color Palettes in Illustrator
  • By Design Bundles
  • 20 Feb 2019
  • 10 Mins
  • Beginner
  • Illustrator Tutorials

Custom Skin Tone Color Palettes in Illustrator

This tutorial will show you how to make a custom skin tone color palette in Illustrator.

Have you ever needed a skin tone color palette and not have one? Well, we’re going to show you how you can create your own custom skin tone color palettes in Illustrator. It’s actually very simple to do, and you can create as many different ones as you want.



For this tutorial, you will need a reference image for the desired skin tones. You can find many different photos of people on Design Bundles to choose from. You can use several reference images, but we’ll be using just one with three people in it to create three different custom skin tone color palettes.

Step 1 - Import Your Reference Image

Go to File > Place (Ctrl/Cmd + P).

Click on File and then Place to import your reference image

Locate and select your reference image. Then click Place.

Select your reference image and click Place

Click + drag on the artboard in Illustrator to place the reference image.

Note: you can also click on the artboard to place the image at its actual size. Then use the Selection Tool (V) to resize and move the image.

Click and drag to place the image on the artboard in Illustrator

Step 2 - Create a Square Using the Rectangle Tool

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) from the left toolbar.

Select the Rectangle Tool from the left toolbar

Click on the artboard, and in the Rectangle dialog, enter 30 px for the Width and Height. Then click OK.

Enter 30 px for the Width and Height, then click OK

You can leave the Fill and Stroke colors as they are.

Shows a square below the reference image in Illustrator

Step 3 - Duplicate the Square Using the Move Function

With the square still selected, go to Object > Transform > Move (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + M).

Click on Object, Transform, and then Move in Illustrator

Input 30 px for Horizontal and 0 px for Vertical in the Move dialog and click Copy.

Enter 30 px for Horizontal, 0 px for Vertical, and click Copy

The duplicate square will be next to and touching the first square on the right, as shown in the following image.

Shows two squares below the reference image

Step 4 - Use Transform Again Function

Go to Object > Transform > Transform Again (Ctrl/Cmd + D).

Shows to click on Object, Transform, and then Transform Again

Repeat Transform Again until you have a total of seven squares.

Shows seven squares below the reference image

Step 5 - Create Another Color Palette

Select all the squares and quickly duplicate them by holding the Shift + Alt/Option keys while clicking + dragging them down. Repeat to make as many color palettes as you need.

Select all the squares, hold Shift + Alt/Option, and click + drag to duplicate them below

Step 6 - Sample Colors Using the Eyedropper Tool

Select the first square and then the Eyedropper Tool (E).

Select a the first square and then the Eyedropper Tool

Zoom in if needed and click on the reference image to sample it for a skin color shade. The selected square will fill with the sampled color.

Shows to click on the image to sample it for a skin color shade

Step 7 - Repeat Sampling for Rest of the Squares/Shades

When sampling for shades, start with the darker areas, then the medium-colored areas, and finally the lighter areas. Make sure you have an overall representation of the various shades present in the image.

Shows a completed skin tone color palette under the reference image

Repeat the process for the other skin tone color palettes.

Shows three different skin tone color palettes under the reference image

Step 8 - Save Color Palette as a Color Group

To save the color palettes and if you want to edit some of the shades, use Recolor Artwork. Select all the squares of one color palette and click the Recolor Artwork icon in the Control panel at the top.

Select the whole color palette and click on the Recolor Artwork icon

If your Recolor Artwork popup looks like what’s shown in the following image, click on Advanced Options.

Click on Advanced Options

In the Recolor Artwork dialog, select the shade you want to edit and move the sliders until you achieve the desired changes. Repeat for any other shade you want to edit.

Once you are done, enter a name for the Color Group and click on the New Color Group icon on the top right that looks like a folder.

Shows the Recolor Artwork and how to edit the shades

Your newly created Color Group will appear in the list.

Shows the newly created Color Group in the Color Groups list in the Recolor Artwork dialog

Repeat this step with the other color palettes you’ve created.

Notice that you’ll also see your new color palettes/Color Groups in the Swatches panel.

Shows that the skin tone color palettes will also appear in the Swatches panel

Step 9 - Delete Unused Color Palettes

We want to export only our skin tone color palettes, so we’ll delete all the other color palettes before we export. Head to the Swatches panel. Click on the small menu icon in the top right and choose Select All Unused.

Click the menu icon in the Swatches panel and choose Select All Unused in Illustrator

Then click on the small trash can icon at the bottom right of the Swatches panel to delete those color palettes.

Shows all the unused swatches as selected and to then click the trash can icon

When prompted, select Yes.

Click Yes

You will be left with only the skin tone color palettes.

Shows that all the swatches have been deleted leaving only the custom skin tone color palettes

Step 10 - Export Your Color Palettes

Back in the Swatches panel, click the small menu icon in the top right again and choose Save Swatch Library as ASE.

Shows to click the menu icon in the Swatches panel and then Save Swatch Library as ASE

Select a location to save it, enter a file name, and click Save.

Enter a file name and click Save

If you get a popup warning, click OK.

Click OK

Step 11 - Access Your Color Palettes

If your color palettes are no longer in the Swatches panel and you want to access them, head to the Swatches panel and click on the Swatch Library Menu icon in the bottom left. Go to User Defined > Skin Tones or whatever you named your color palettes.

Shows to click on the Swatch Library Menu icon, User Defined, and then your saved color palettes

Your custom skin tone color palettes will open in a separate panel.

Shows your custom skin tone color palettes in a separate panel

And that’s how you create, save, export, and access custom skin tone color palettes in Illustrator! If you didn’t already know, you can now use your exported skin tone color palettes in any Adobe application.


6 Related Illustrator Tutorials

Have you ever heard of SVG fonts? Today, we’ll tell you a little bit about SVG fonts and how to use them in Illustrator. SVG fonts, also known as color fonts, are a fairly new kind of OpenType format. They can currently be used in applications such as Illustrator, ...

Do you ever struggle with choosing colors for your drawings or forget which color it was that you wanted to use? If so, color palettes in Procreate can really help you! In this tutorial, we will go over what you can do with color palettes and color swatches, the different ...

In this Tutorial, we are going to create a “Color Scheme” between two colors so you can use in your projects. We are using three different options available in the tool, the “Smooth Color”, Specified Steps” and the “Specified Distance” options.1 - In Illustrator, create a “New Document”.2 - Select ...

For this tutorial you will need some watercolor textures that have a transparent background. I have used some from this Watercolor Texture Pack by Sinziana Romanescu.1 – Open or create an Illustrator document, then choose and place the textures you wish to use. Go to File > Place or click Shift + ...

Inkscape comes preloaded with quite a few color palettes. You can also make and save your own custom color palette. Custom palettes can be created from images or designs and are great for color reference. We will show you how to create and save color palettes using an image.In ...

1 - In Illustrator, create a “New Document”. Bring out the “Rulers” with Command/control + R.2 - Drag to create a “Guide” from the upper rulers to a point in the document to be used as reference.3 - Select the “Ellipse Tool” (L) and draw a circle by holding the “Shift + ...

swatches custom color palettes export swatch library

You may also like

Help Center
ol image