Creating a custom color palette from an image using Image Trace in Illustrator

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I do this all the time. Today I saw a photo of President Obama on my Facebook Newsfeed and was struck by the blues in the background. So I tried a few online color palette generators, but I wanted a larger palette, which I will edit until I get a palette I love. So I decided to take screen-shots as I go, to show you how to do it.

Grab an image you love and drag it onto the Illustrator icon.

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It doesn’t matter if you hold the shift key down to maintain the ratio, and it also doesn’t matter if your photo gets blurry or pixelated—We’re only looking at the colors. You’re going to throw this file away when you’re done. Just make it big.

Next, with the image selected, open the Image Trace window, and turn on “Preview.”

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Make sure you are in “Color” mode.

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Then play with the number of colors. With mine set to “Limited,” I’m only getting 30 colors and I don’t see enough blues in the window. So I’m going to choose “Full-tone” and go for 40 colors.

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That’s more like it. Open the Advanced menu by clicking on the little triangle and choose “ignore white.”


Now expand it.



And ungroup it.


Open your Swatches palette.


Drag a selection marquee across the windows so that part of the image is selected. IMPORTANT: there’s a size limit on new color groups, so grab sections of your photo instead of the whole thing. I like the blues of the window, so I’m grabbing that section.

select window

Click the little folder icon on the bottom of the swatches palette. Choose “Selected Artwork”, click OK.

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Click somewhere on the white page to deselect your artwork while you edit this palette. I’m going to delete the browns, greys and whites from this color group so I end up with mostly blues.

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Shift + click on the swatches you want to delete, then hit the trash button at the bottom of the window. Option + click to single out lone swatches. You can drag them around to rearrange them. If you see swatches that are similar, delete them. This is the fiddly part that defines whether you are a color-lover or not.


Okay I’m almost done, just going to delete that first swatch that looks like white.

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Click on the folder icon. Choose “Save Swatch Library as ASE…” (By the way, where there is an ellipses—the three dots—it means there is another menu after this.)

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I’m going to save mine right into my Illustrator Swatches directory, but you can save it anywhere.

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Now it’s one of the User Defined Swatch Libraries. Or, if I had saved it somewhere else, I could have chosen “Other Library” and just loaded the ASE file.

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Here is the final version of the color palette I developed from this photo.

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Click on the image or here to download the ASE file for yourself.

26. October 2013 by arleigh
Categories: art & design, tips & tricks | Leave a comment

cherry creek arts festival 2013

…just the stuff I liked.

These are all cell phone photos and/or pulled from the artist’s blog.

Margaret Gordon


I bought this beautiful set of earrings from Margaret Gordon. I say “set” because they’re sold as 3 earrings, not pairs.

She told me she likes to keep her work affordable. These earrings were $35 for the set.

 Sarah Giannobile

Reminded me of Jean Michel Basquiat.

Sundie & Brad Ruppert

Vintage Sculpture


Alejandra Almuelle


Aaron Hequembourg

Carved Collage Assemblage Paintings

His work made me feel both sad and inspired. I liked Camellia best.

The colors on his website don’t do it justice. Here’s a bit more about him.

Alex Troughbet




The cow drawing might also be Alex Troughbet‘s.


Dolan Geiman

Collage & Assemblage

This was the first booth I saw when I entered the show. I enjoyed it very much.

I almost bought one of his panels. They are only $45.


Kreg Yingst

Music-inspired Woodblock Prints


Bryan Cunningham


James & Victoria Mullan

Anthony Hansen


 This was weird.

This artist had a sign up, saying that you should ask for permission before taking a photo. Hipocrite.
You think he got permission from General Mills, Disney, Black Cat, etc.?


Brick and mortar stores worth a visit:

Little coin purses at The Artisan Center.


The Caesar Salad at So Perfect Eats

Paper Source


Show of Hands Gallery


06. July 2013 by arleigh
Categories: art & design, shopping | Leave a comment

my mid-life crisis

about 16 years ago, when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and told I would probably never walk again, I refused to acquiesce.

after years of struggling with doctors and medications, I found out I had been misdiagnosed, and was suffering pseudo arthritis as a result of—get this… ready?—the medicine they were GIVING me for it.

I switched medications (and doctors, natch) it took another year to recover. my joints will never recover; they’re still crunchy and inflammed. my ankles took the worst hit.

and that year, I felt like I had a new lease on life, with this whole “being able to walk again” thing.

so I bought a motorcycle. then I realized that was dumb. so I sold it.  I bought a mustang, then sold it. then I bought a convertible. I still have it and I love driving it.

and I bought myself a bougainvillea. I thought to myself, “this plant represents this moment of my life.”

my 12-year old bougainvillea is still growing. I can see it from my office. it reminds me of that time in my life when I felt new again, full of hope, and ready to get on with my life.

another year later, after a couple miscarriages, I had my son, and now I’m living this life that I’m living now. with the bougainvillea and being able to walk.

that’s the story of my mid-life crisis. what’s yours?




photos taken july 2001

30. June 2013 by arleigh
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DIY toilet seat cover

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We all know the toilet paper slips off if you lay it on the seat like this \ /

All you need is a cross-piece to keep the other two from sliding off!


Click for a larger image.


11. April 2013 by arleigh
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

clipping the beginning or end off a song in itunes

you know that 45 seconds of people clapping or band introductions on that song you love?
well, here’s how to fix that in itunes.

1. play the song and pause it at the point you want to clip it.

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2. highlight the song in the list and “get info” on it.

3. in the get info panel, find the “options” tab.

4. look at the time on  the song bar, in this case, 2:45, and enter it either in the “start time” or “stop time.”

that’s it!

Screen shot 2013-03-16 at 2.52.42 PM 

16. March 2013 by arleigh
Categories: tips & tricks | Leave a comment

IBD & general financial assistance resources

I found this on Minnesota Gastroenterology website and I thought I’d grab this info and post it here. If you know someone (with IBD or not) struggling to pay for meds, maybe they can try some of these places.

Financial Assistance Options for IBD Medication Expenses

 Private Assistance Organizations

The following co-pay assistance foundations help people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pay their out-of-pocket medication expenses. Depending on the type of treatment you and your provider have chosen, you will be able to utilize funds provided by the foundations to cover your medication expenses at your pharmacy or at Minnesota Gastroenterology.*  The diagnosis covered by each organization is noted.

Chronic Disease Fund (Crohn’s Disease)

Phone:                         (877) 968-7233

Web address:    


HealthWell Foundation (Crohn’s Disease)

Phone:                         (800) 675-8416

Web address:    


Patient Access Network Foundation (Crohn’s Disease)

Phone:                         (866) 316-7263

Web address:    


Patient Advocate Foundation (Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis)

Phone:                         (866) 512-3861

Web address:    

Other Options

The following organizations may help identify other financial assistance options available to you, regardless of your diagnosis.

Needy Meds

Phone:                         None available

Web address:    

Partnership for Prescription Assistance

Phone:                         (888) 477-2669

Web address:    


Phone:                         None available

Web address:    

21. February 2013 by arleigh
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

the sacred shelves

Screen shot 2013-02-15 at 6.37.37 AM

my son isn’t allowed video or computer games for 2 days out of his 4-day weekend. it’s his consequence for turning in homework late.

I don’t remember being grounded from doing things when I was his age, but I do remember The Sacred Shelves.

my mom had a shelf of good food, like crackers and chocolate chips, that she considered food-for-adults. the shelves were labeled with dymo tape.

my whole life, she pushed a weird healthy food diet on me, and even made me see a doctor for being overweight when I was about 10— I wasn’t overweight, but going through puberty. stupid grownups.

I stole food from The Sacred Shelves regularly. then I realized all I had to do was buy and hide food in my bedroom. my favorite food to keep in my bedroom was canned frosting.

she wouldn’t let me use the dymo labeler either. just recently I bought myself one and it makes me so happy!

I have matured a bit. now when I buy frosting, I don’t hide it.

moral of the story: prohibitions don’t work.


15. February 2013 by arleigh
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make extra sn@p! album pocket page with regular page protectors

I needed some extra pages for the Sn@p! Album I’m working on. I thought maybe I’d try making my own. I like them. They’re easy and pretty. Granted, they’re only full-pages, but I think I can work with that.

I’ve seen some people use a sewing machine on page protectors, but I’m too lazy to go set up my sewing machine and try it out.

For one page, you will need:

  • one page from your Sn@p! Album to use as a template
  • one 8.5×11″ page protector
  • one double-sided cardstock, size 8.5 x 2″ (I think it’s actually 1/8″ smaller than 8.5″—you can trim that off at the very end.)
  • one scrap cardstock any color, size 8 x .5″
  • hole punch
  • scissors or exacto blade & ruler
  • adhesive
  • (optional) decorative edge punch or deco scissors
  • (optional) folding/scoring tool

Here are my photos. Please excuse my messy desk.


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It’s important to be precise here. Take your time.


The scoring doesn’t matter if it’s not precise. It will still look good.


Low profile deco edge.
If it’s too deep, it will get in the way of the holes that you’ll be punching later. If you really want to use a deeper deco edge punch, you could make your strip wider in the first place, or leave this one plain and adhere a decorative border later.


I marked where the holes were, so I wouldn’t have to punch through the adhesive, but it turns out not to make a difference.
The REASON for this piece is to keep your insert from sliding around. You can skip this piece and just glue the edge together, or staple. Once you make the first pocket, you’ll know if you want to include this step.

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Take your time to place this folded piece as straight as you can. But if it’s a little crooked, the page will still hang properly if you punch the holes in the right place.

arleighsnap10 arleighsnap11 arleighsnap12

15. February 2013 by arleigh
Categories: art & design | Leave a comment

r e b u s




12. February 2013 by arleigh
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

5 7 5

#haiku by @arleigh (me)

a blustery wind /
petals and seeds blow around /
where’s the claritin?

frenzied commuters /
soccer moms in mini-vans /
they all drive like shit.

puffy swollen face /
and itchy watery eyes. /
late spring allergies.

claritin again /
but not for my hay fever /
this time it’s bug bites.

not a little gaffe /
she should have self-edited /
bye helen thomas

now they’re soaking wet /
both boys are in the fountain /
wet jeans and big smiles

my lips are bright red /
my breath is sweet and fruity /
sonic cherry slush

we’re back from the park /
I ate too many cheetos /
pink skin, orange palms.

mosquito outside /
buzzing on the gym window /
tasty flesh inside

cold glass of water /
it’s healthy and refreshing /
but I’m still hungry!

stoned birds in our yard /
from eating dead wasps outside /
thank you raid bug spray

quiet library /
my boy is in the bathroom /
he sings when he poops

help! I’m being bombed! /
by half eaten unripe pears /
that squirrel hates me.

I procrastinate /
now I’m just not in the mood /
shoot for tomorrow

sometimes it’s filet /
and other times it’s king crab /
tonight, top ramen.

mother nature drums /
punctual dark thunderclouds /
our afternoon storms

not sure what I ate /
last chance to eat leftovers /
wine makes it okay

so the world has changed /
an oil masterpiece is now /
one-line ascii art

give it all you got /
doesn’t apply to TP /
the toilet backs up

white slanted sunlight /
birds break the silence /
another new day

high hazy pink clouds /
not optimism /
drifting wildfire smoke

green toes, stuffed up nose /
not coming down with something /
just mowing the lawn

a sweet soft downpour /
dormant seeds are energized /
new growth tomorrow

50 MPH /
Clinging for dear life /
Ladybug on my windshield.

Black Coffee and /
Black Early Morning Sky and /
Black Mood to Match and

I’ve got a sick kid. /
Turns my whole day upside-down. /
I need more coffee.

What the sky looks like. /
Remember? Last time you looked? /
Notice everything.

hey please check my smile /
no not that I’m not happy /
poppy seeds get stuck

I’m 47 /
I’m addicted to Farmville /
I wear yoga pants

bottom of the bin /
my favorite underwear /
oh how I’ve missed you!

Today’s lunch was great. /
Now I need to scour my mouth. /
2pm dentist.

hey, little spider /
when you freeze in your tracks /
i can still see you

seemed so important /
but now that i’m at my mac /
i can’t remember.


07. February 2013 by arleigh
Categories: me | Leave a comment

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