Today I picked up on a neat little trick on how to extract a colour palette from a photograph. Imagine you stumble upon a gorgeous photo (or piece of digital art) which has this special colour scheme. You could use the eyedropper tool to extract each colour individually but there’s a slicker way of doing it. This tutorial teaches you how to convert a photo into a fully functional colour swatch palette using photoshop and illustrator.
this is the photograph I got from flickr with nice warm colours which I want to use in a vector design. The first step is to open it in Photoshop.
For CS3 users only: make a duplicate and convert the picture into a smart object. This way you can edit the mosaic effect without messing up the original photo.
Go to filters > Pixelate > Mosaic and vary the cell size until you’re happy with the result. In my case 113 did the job. This is it for the Photoshop part.
The next step is to import our mosaic grid into Illustrator. If you’ve got an Ai file (preferably with the same, or larger dimensions) open you can simply drag an drop the layer from Photoshop.
This is were the magic happens. Making sure you have the content selected hit “Live Trace”.
Choose the “Photo High Fidelity” Preset from the Live Trace options. The default setting of 64 for Max Colours should be enough. Change it if you used a smaller cell size for the Mosaic filter. Now hit Expand.
With the expanded mosaic still selected open the Swatches palette and from the option menu choose “Add Selected Colors”. That’s it. Now you’ve imported the colours from your intial photograph into the swatches gallery in Illustrator. Save it so you can use it for different projects.