I stumbled across this work by Gerhard Richter – 4900 Colours: Version II (his other Colour Charts are great too) on ffffound and fell in love with it. Taking the randomly coloured grid concept a bit further (in the graphic design sense) is the Pet Shop Boys album, “Yes”, seen below.
I thought it would be interesting to see how hard it would be to achieve in Illustrator. With one small, free Illustrator script, it turns out it is quite easy.
The script we’ll need is “vary_hues” from wundes.com. Save the .js file on to your computer somewhere. It’s well worth checking out the other scripts too.
I chose the same width and height to keep the grid as a bunch of squares and have set the rows and columns to 10×10. Unless you’re going for a Mondrian style effect, leave the skew at 0% on each.
You may notice at this point that the grid is just a rectangle with lines through it, rather than a bunch of individual squares.
To fix this, select the grid and open the Pathfinder palette. All you need to do now is click “Divide” and this will cut the grid up in to a bunch of squares for you.
To make it easier to see, fill the squares with a colour.
Now we have a grid of squares, but it’s still all in a block. Ungroup the grid so you can select individual blocks – right click > ungroup or CTRL + SHIFT + G.
Now we can get some colour in to them.
This is where the vary_hues script comes in to its own. Select all the squares and go to File > Scripts > Other Script, then browse to where ever you saved the vary_hues script.
When the dialog box comes up, enter 100 and click OK. 100 will ensure that there’s a wide variety of colours.
The random colours will, most likely, look fairly ugly at the moment. The secret to the Gerhard Richter and “Yes” examples is that the colours aren’t completely random. So to get some order and harmony to the colours we’ll use the Live Color tool.
With the squares still selected, choose the Recolor Artwork button to open Live Color.
This is where you can have some fun choosing colours. Click on the little grid button to open the swatches menu. This will give you a large selection of colour swatches to choose from. Art History > Pop Art works well, but experiment with others to see how it works.
The Pop Art colours will be applied to the squares, replacing the random colours with more harmonious and hopefully attractive colours.
This will give you more control over the individual colours. The slider at the bottom (under the little sun icon) adjusts the brightness of the colour, so we’ll turn that up to make it a bit more vibrant. You can also grab and adjust individual colours on the palette to adjust them.
Click OK and you’re done!
That’s the basic idea covered, so hopefully it’s a useful starting point for some interesting designs. If you use it, I’d love to see what you come up with.
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