My creative process is both analog and digital. I love the tactile approach drawing provides and the precision ease of use digital offers in regard to creating artwork and design.
I've had my battles with Illustrator over the years. And it more than anything else in my life is truly a love hate relationship.
Thankfully most of these frustrations and short comings have either been resolved now by Adobe or bypassed via helpful third party plugins that work better than the native tools.
That said, there is still room for improvement and that is what this post is about. I'm specifically talking about the the "Color Palette" in Adobe Illustrator.
Adobe Illustrator 8 Color Palette.
It's been eons since Adobe seriously updated the Color Palette. The above image shows what it looked like back in Illustrator 8 running on system 9 prior to the advent of OSX.
Current interface appearance of Color Palette in CS4.
Not much has changed with the Color Palette since Illustrator 8. Being a former FreeHand user the GUI on this specific palette has always annoyed me.
Why did Adobe ever overlap the fill and stroke controls? OK, so that was a rhetorical question. It denotes which control you have in focus either fill or stroke. Having the overlap as it is now just makes selecting them more of a pain and slows down the build process IMO.
Overlap + Dark Colors = Problem.
The current overlap causes another problem, if you have darker colors it's hard to tell which one is selected, (See above image) so it isn't fool proof from that stand point making it slow you down again. I think my solution below is better. The overlap also gives the illusion of representing a hierarchy, which it doesn't in the actual object itself, that's what the Appearance Palette is for.
But the biggest issue for me in regards to the Color Palette is the fact there is no way to quickly color both the fill and stroke at the same time. (I miss that feature from FreeHand)
My suggested GUI and functional update to the Color Palette.
I think Adobe should re-design the Color Palette. I'm not talking about making the process fundamentally different, I just want to see what is already there improved upon. They should also add in the ability to color both the fill and stroke at the same time. Everything else would work the same as it always has.
Easier to select fill and stroke controls.
Want to color your fill and stroke yellow? Just click the multi-color control shown to the right of the fill and stroke control and then create your color and your done. (You can also drag a color to the multi-color control too) This would seem to be a pretty easy refinement the Adobe engineers could make?
Arrowhead to Identify which control you have selected.
Someone in the comments below pointed out the overlapping fill and stroke denote which one is selected. I realize that but it's still not needed. I could see why they might have done that before OSX and more robust application versions but it's simply not needed.
I propose that an active arrow appears along side which ever control is currently in focus be it the fill, stroke, or multi-color.
I know everyone has different ways of working but I'd use this simple function all the time if it were part of the app. FreeHand had it, Adobe owns FreeHand now so why not implement it? They've already done so with multiple art boards, new masking etc.