Converting your artwork to Live Paint groups allows you to color them freely, as you would a drawing on canvas or paper. You can stroke each path segment with a different color and fill each enclosed path (note, not just closed paths) with a different color, pattern, or gradient.
Live Paint is an intuitive way to create colored drawings. It lets you use the full range of Illustrator’s vector drawing tools, but treats all the paths you draw as though they are on the same flat surface. That is, none of the paths is behind or in front of any other. Instead, the paths divide the drawing surface up into areas, any of which can be colored, regardless of whether the area is bounded by a single path or by segments of multiple paths. The result is that painting objects is like filling in a coloring book or using watercolors to paint a pencil sketch.
Once you’ve made a Live Paint group, each path remains fully editable. When you move or adjust a path’s shape, the colors that had been previously applied don’t just stay where they were, like they do in natural media paintings or image editing programs. Instead, Illustrator automatically reapplies them to the new regions that are formed by the edited paths.
A. Original B. Live Paint group C. Paths adjusted, Live Painting reflows
The paintable parts of Live Paint groups are called edges and faces. An edge is the portion of a path between where it intersects with other paths. A face is the area enclosed by one or more edges. You can stroke edges and fill faces.
Take, for example, a circle with a line drawn across it. As a Live Paint group, the line (edge) dividing the circle creates two faces in the circle. You can fill each face and stroke each edge with a different color using the Live Paint Bucket tool.
Live Paint takes advantage of multiprocessors, which help Illustrator perform the operations more quickly.
Fill and paint attributes are attached to faces and edges of a Live Paint group—not to the actual paths that define them, as in other Illustrator objects. Because of this, some features and commands either work differently or are not applicable to paths inside a Live Paint group.
Features and commands that work on an entire Live Paint group, but not on individual faces and edges
Multiple fills and strokes from the Appearance panel
Object > Envelope Distort
Object > Hide
Object > Rasterize
Object > Slice > Make
Make Opacity Mask (in the Transparency panel menu)
Brushes (You can apply brushes to an entire Live Paint group if you add a new stroke to the group using the Appearance panel.)
Features that don’t work on Live Paint groups
Symbols from the Symbols panel
Align Stroke options from the Stroke panel
The Magic Wand tool
Object commands that don’t work on Live Paint groups
Expand (You can use the Object > Live Paint > Expand command instead.)
Clipping Mask > Make
Create Gradient Mesh
Other commands that don’t work on Live Paint groups
File > Place
View > Guides > Make
Select > Same >Blending Mode, Fill & Stroke, Opacity, Style, Symbol Instance, or Link Block Series
Object > Text Wrap > Make
When you want to color objects using different colors for each edge, or intersection, convert the artwork into a Live Paint Group.
Certain types of objects, such as type, bitmap images, and brushes, cannot be directly made into Live Paint groups. You first need to convert these objects into paths. For example, if you try to convert an object that uses brushes or effects, the complex visual appearance is lost in the conversion to Live Paint. However, you can retain much of the appearance by first converting the objects to regular paths and then converting the resulting paths to Live Paint.
Note: When you convert artwork to a Live Paint group, you cannot return the artwork to its original state. You can expand the group into its individual components, or release the group back to its original paths with no fill and a .5 black stroke.
Choose Object > Live Paint > Make.
Select the Live Paint Bucket tool and click the selected object.
Certain properties may be lost in the conversion to a Live Paint group, such as transparency and effects, while other objects cannot be converted (such as type, bitmap images, and brushes).
For type objects, choose Type > Create Outlines. Then make the resulting paths into a Live Paint group.
For bitmap images, choose Object > Live Trace > Make And Convert To Live Paint.
For other objects, choose Object > Expand. Then make the resulting paths into a Live Paint group.
Releasing a Live Paint group changes it to one or more ordinary paths with no fill and a .5‑point black stroke. Expanding a Live Paint group changes it to one or more ordinary paths that are visually similar to the Live Paint group, but are now separate filled and stroked paths. You can use the Group Selection tool to select and modify these paths separately.
Choose Object > Live Paint > Expand.
Choose Object > Live Paint > Release.
Use the Live Paint Selection tool to select individual faces and edges in a Live Paint group. Use the Selection tool to select the entire Live Paint group, and the Direct Selection tool to select paths inside a Live Paint group. When you’re working in a complex document, you can isolate a Live Paint group so that it is easy to select the exact face or edge you want.
Choose a selection tool depending on what you want to affect in a Live Paint group. For example, use the Live Paint Selection tool to apply different gradients across different faces in a Live Paint group, and use the Selection tool to apply the same gradient across the entire Live Paint group.
The Live Paint Selection tool pointer changes to the face pointer when it’s positioned over a face, the edge pointer when it’s positioned over an edge, or the x pointer when it’s positioned outside of a Live Paint group.
Double-click the group.
Select the group, and then click the Isolate Selected Group button in the Control panel.
When you modify a path in a Live Paint group, Illustrator colors the modified or new faces and edges using fills and strokes from the existing group. If the results are not what you expect, you can reapply the colors you want using the Live Paint Bucket tool.
When you delete edges, the fill floods across any newly expanded face. For example, if you delete a path that divides a circle in half, the circle is filled with one of the fills previously in the circle. You can sometimes help guide the results. For instance, before deleting a path that divides a circle, first move it so that the fill you want to keep is larger than the fill you want to remove.
Save the fill and stroke colors used in Live Paint groups in the Swatches panel. That way, if a change loses a color you want to keep, you can select its swatch and use the Live Paint Bucket tool to reapply the fill or stroke.
As you add more paths to the Live Paint group, you can fill and stroke the new faces and edges that are created.
Using the Selection tool, double-click a Live Paint group (or click the Isolate Selected Group button in the Control panel) to put the group into isolation mode. Then draw another path. Illustrator adds the new path to the Live Paint group. Click the Exit Isolation Mode button when you’re done adding new paths.
In the Layers panel, drag one or more paths into a Live Paint group.
Note: Paths inside a Live Paint group may not exactly align with similar or identical paths outside the Live Paint group.
Using the Direct Selection tool, click the path or object to select it. Then choose the Selection tool and click the path or object again to edit it.
Using the Selection tool, double-click the Live Paint Group to put it into isolation mode. Then click a path or object to edit it.
The Live Paint Bucket tool lets you paint faces and edges of Live Paint groups with the current fill and stroke attributes. The tool pointer displays as either one or three color squares, which represent the selected fill or stroke color and, if you’re using colors from a swatch library, the two colors adjacent to the selected color in the library. You can access the adjacent colors, as well as the colors next to those, and so on, by pressing the left or right arrow key.
If you select a color from a the Swatches panel, the pointer changes to display three colors . The selected color is in the middle, and the two adjacent colors are on either side. To use an adjacent color, click the left or right arrow key.
Click a face to fill it. (When the pointer is over a face, it changes to a half-filled paint bucket and highlight lines surround the inside of the fill.)
Drag across multiple faces to paint more than one face at a time.
Double-click a face to fill across unstroked edges into adjacent faces (flood fill).
Triple-click a face to fill all faces that currently have the same fill.
Tip: To switch to the Eyedropper tool and sample fills or strokes, Alt‑click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the fill or stroke you want.
Click an edge to stroke it. (When the pointer is over an edge, it changes to a paint brush and the edge is highlighted.)
Drag across multiple edges to stroke more than one edge at a time.
Double-click an edge to stroke all connected edges of the same color (flood stroke).
Triple-click an edge to stroke all edges of the same stroke.
Note: Pressing Shift lets you quickly toggle between painting only strokes and only fills. You can also specify these changes in the Live Paint Bucket Options dialog box. If you currently have both the Paint Fills option and the Paint Strokes option selected, pressing Shift switches to Paint Fills only. (This can be helpful when you are trying to fill a small face surrounded by stroked edges.)
The Live Paint Bucket options let you specify how the Live Paint Bucket tool works, choosing whether to paint just fills, just strokes, or both, as well as how to highlight faces and edges as you move the tool over them. You can see these options by double-clicking the Live Paint Bucket tool.
Paints the faces of Live Paint groups.
Paints the edges of Live Paint groups.
Cursor Swatch Preview
Displays when you choose a color from the Swatches panel. The Live Paint Bucket tool pointer appears as three color swatches: the selected fill or stroke color plus the color directly to the left and right of it in the Swatches panel.
Outlines the face or edge the cursor is currently over. Faces are highlighted with a thick line and edges are highlighted with a thin line.
Sets the color for the highlight. You can choose a color from the menu or click the paint swatch to specify a custom color.
Specifies how thick to make the highlight.
Gaps are small spaces between paths. If paint leaks through and paints faces you did not intend, you probably have a gap in your artwork. You can create a new path that closes the gap, edit existing paths to close the gap, or adjust the gap options in the Live Paint group.
You can avoid gaps in your Live Paint artwork by overdrawing paths (that is, extending them past each other). You can then select and delete the excess edges that result, or apply a stroke of “None” to them.
Choose View > Show Live Paint Gaps.
This command highlights any gaps found on the currently selected Live Paint group, based on your gap options settings for that group.
Choose Object > Live Paint > Gap Options and specify any of the following:
When selected, Illustrator recognizes gaps in Live Paint paths and prevents paint from flowing through them. Note that this may slow Illustrator when working on large, complex Live Paint groups. In this case, you can choose Close Gaps With Paths to help speed Illustrator up again.
Paint Stops At
Sets the size of the gap paint can’t flow through.
Specifies a custom Paint Stops At gap size.
Gap Preview Color
Sets the color for previewing gaps in Live Paint groups. You can choose a color from the menu, or click the color well next to the Gap Preview Color menu to specify a custom color.
Close Gaps With Paths
When selected, inserts unpainted paths into your Live Paint group to close gaps (rather than simply preventing paint from flowing though the gaps). Note that since these paths are unpainted, it may appear gaps are still there even though they have been closed.
Displays currently detected gaps in Live Paint groups as colored lines, based on the preview color you chose.
When you merge Live Paint groups that have different gap settings, Illustrator uses the following rules to handle the gaps:
If gap detection is off in all groups in the selection, gaps are closed and gap detection is turned on with Paint Stops At set to Small Gaps.
If gap detection is on and the same for all groups in the selection, gaps are closed and the gap setting is preserved.
If gap detection is mixed for the selection, gaps are closed and the gap settings of the bottommost Live Paint group are preserved (if gap detection is on for that group). If the bottommost group has gap detection turned off, gap detection is turned on and Paint Stops At is set to Small Gaps.