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Adjust colors

  1. Illustrator User Guide
  2. Get to know Illustrator
    1. Introduction to Illustrator
      1. What's new in Illustrator
      2. Common questions
      3. Illustrator system requirements
      4. Illustrator for Apple silicon
    2. Workspace
      1. Workspace basics
      2. Learn faster with the Illustrator Discover panel
      3. Create documents
      4. Toolbar
      5. Default keyboard shortcuts
      6. Customize keyboard shortcuts
      7. Introduction to artboards
      8. Manage artboards
      9. Customize the workspace
      10. Properties panel
      11. Set preferences
      12. Touch Workspace
      13. Microsoft Surface Dial support in Illustrator
      14. Undo edits and manage design history
      15. Rotate view
      16. Rulers, grids, and guides
      17. Accessibility in Illustrator
      18. Safe Mode
      19. View artwork
      20. Use the Touch Bar with Illustrator
      21. Files and templates
    3. Tools in Illustrator
      1. Tools at a glance
      2. Select tools
        1. Selection
        2. Direct Selection
        3. Group Selection
        4. Magic Wand
        5. Lasso
        6. Artboard
      3. Navigate tools
        1. Hand
        2. Rotate View
        3. Zoom
      4. Paint tools
        1. Gradient
        2. Mesh
        3. Shape Builder
      5. Text tools
        1. Type
        2. Type on a Path
        3. Vertical Type
      6. Draw tools
        1. Pen
        2. Add Anchor Point
        3. Delete Anchor Point
        4. Anchor Point
        5. Curvature
        6. Line Segment
        7. Rectangle
        8. Rounded Rectangle
        9. Ellipse
        10. Polygon
        11. Star
        12. Paintbrush
        13. Blob Brush
        14. Pencil
        15. Shaper
        16. Slice
      7. Modify tools
        1. Rotate
        2. Reflect
        3. Scale
        4. Shear
        5. Width
        6. Free Transform
        7. Eyedropper
        8. Blend
        9. Eraser
        10. Scissors
        11. Dimension
    4. Generative AI (not available in mainland China)
      1. Generate a vector graphic using a text prompt
      2. Recolor your artwork using a text prompt
    5. Quick actions
      1. Retro text
      2. Neon glow text
      3. Old school text
      4. Recolor
      5. Convert sketch to vector
  3. Illustrator on the web (beta)
    1. Illustrator on the web (beta) overview
    2. Illustrator on the web (beta) FAQ
    3. Troubleshooting issues FAQ
    4. Keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator on the web (beta)
    5. Create and combine shapes on the web
    6. Add and edit text on the web
    7. Apply colors and gradients on the web
    8. Draw and edit paths on the web
    9. Work with cloud documents on the web
    10. Invite collaborators to edit on the web
  4. Illustrator on the iPad
    1. Introduction to Illustrator on the iPad
      1. Illustrator on the iPad overview
      2. Illustrator on the iPad FAQs
      3. System requirements | Illustrator on the iPad
      4. What you can or cannot do on Illustrator on the iPad
    2. Workspace
      1. Illustrator on the iPad workspace
      2. Touch shortcuts and gestures
      3. Keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator on the iPad
      4. Manage your app settings
    3. Documents
      1. Work with documents in Illustrator on the iPad
      2. Import Photoshop and Fresco documents
    4. Select and arrange objects
      1. Create repeat objects
      2. Blend objects
    5. Drawing
      1. Draw and edit paths
      2. Draw and edit shapes
    6. Type
      1. Work with type and fonts
      2. Create text designs along a path
      3. Add your own fonts
    7. Work with images
      1. Vectorize raster images
    8. Color
      1. Apply colors and gradients
  5. Cloud documents
    1. Basics
      1. Work with Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Share and collaborate on Illustrator cloud documents
      3. Share documents for review
      4. Upgrade cloud storage for Adobe Illustrator
      5. Illustrator cloud documents | Common questions
    2. Troubleshooting
      1. Troubleshoot create or save issues for Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Troubleshoot Illustrator cloud documents issues
  6. Add and edit content
    1. Drawing and dimensioning
      1. Drawing basics
      2. Edit paths
      3. Draw pixel-perfect art
      4. Draw with the Pen, Curvature, or Pencil tool
      5. Draw simple lines and shapes
      6. Draw rectangular and polar grids
      7. Draw and edit flares
      8. Image Trace
      9. Simplify a path
      10. Symbolism tools and symbol sets
      11. Adjust path segments
      12. Design a flower in 5 easy steps
      13. Create and edit a perspective grid
      14. Draw and modify objects on a perspective grid
      15. Use objects as symbols for repeat use
      16. Draw pixel-aligned paths for web workflows
      17. Measure and plot dimensions
    2. 3D objects and materials
      1. About 3D effects in Illustrator
      2. Create 3D graphics
      3. Map artwork over 3D objects
      4. Create 3D Text
      5. Create 3D objects
    3. Color
      1. About color
      2. Select colors
      3. Use and create swatches
      4. Adjust colors
      5. Use the Adobe Color Themes panel
      6. Color groups (harmonies)
      7. Color Themes panel
      8. Recolor your artwork
    4. Painting
      1. About painting
      2. Paint with fills and strokes
      3. Live Paint groups
      4. Gradients
      5. Brushes
      6. Transparency and blending modes
      7. Apply stroke on an object
      8. Create and edit patterns
      9. Meshes
      10. Patterns
    5. Select and arrange objects
      1. Select objects
      2. Layers
      3. Group and expand objects
      4. Move, align, and distribute objects
      5. Stack objects    
      6. Lock, hide, and delete objects
      7. Copy and duplicate objects
      8. Rotate and reflect objects
      9. Intertwine objects
      10. Create realistic art mockups
    6. Reshape objects
      1. Crop images
      2. Transform objects
      3. Combine objects
      4. Cut, divide, and trim objects
      5. Puppet Warp
      6. Scale, shear, and distort objects
      7. Blend objects
      8. Reshape using envelopes
      9. Reshape objects with effects
      10. Build new shapes with Shaper and Shape Builder tools
      11. Work with Live Corners
      12. Enhanced reshape workflows with touch support
      13. Edit clipping masks
      14. Live shapes
      15. Create shapes using the Shape Builder tool
      16. Global editing
    7. Type
      1. Add text and work with type objects
      2. Create bulleted and numbered lists
      3. Manage text area
      4. Fonts and typography
      5. Convert text within images into editable text
      6. Add basic formatting to text
      7. Add advanced formatting to text
      8. Import and export text
      9. Format paragraphs
      10. Special characters
      11. Create type on a path
      12. Character and paragraph styles
      13. Tabs
      14. Find missing fonts (Typekit workflow)
      15. Arabic and Hebrew type
      16. Fonts | FAQ and troubleshooting tips
      17. Create 3D text effect
      18. Creative typography designs
      19. Scale and rotate type
      20. Line and character spacing
      21. Hyphenation and line breaks
      22. Spelling and language dictionaries
      23. Format Asian characters
      24. Composers for Asian scripts
      25. Create text designs with blend objects
      26. Create a text poster using Image Trace
    8. Create special effects
      1. Work with effects
      2. Graphic styles
      3. Appearance attributes
      4. Create sketches and mosaics
      5. Drop shadows, glows, and feathering
      6. Summary of effects
    9. Web graphics
      1. Best practices for creating web graphics
      2. Graphs
      3. SVG
      4. Slices and image maps
  7. Import, export, and save
    1. Import
      1. Place multiple files
      2. Manage linked and embedded files
      3. Links information
      4. Unembed images
      5. Import artwork from Photoshop
      6. Import bitmap images
      7. Import Adobe PDF files
      8. Import EPS, DCS, and AutoCAD files
    2. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator 
      1. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator
    3. Save
      1. Save artwork
    4. Export
      1. Use Illustrator artwork in Photoshop
      2. Export artwork
      3. Collect assets and export in batches
      4. Package files
      5. Create Adobe PDF files
      6. Extract CSS | Illustrator CC
      7. Adobe PDF options
      8. Document info panel
  8. Printing
    1. Prepare for printing
      1. Set up documents for printing
      2. Change the page size and orientation
      3. Specify crop marks for trimming or aligning
      4. Get started with large canvas
    2. Printing
      1. Overprint
      2. Print with color management
      3. PostScript printing
      4. Print presets
      5. Printer's marks and bleeds
      6. Print and save transparent artwork
      7. Trapping
      8. Print color separations
      9. Print gradients, meshes, and color blends
      10. White Overprint
  9. Automate tasks
    1. Data merge using the Variables panel
    2. Automation with scripts
    3. Automation with actions
  10. Troubleshooting 
    1. Known issues
    2. Crash issues
    3. Recover files after crash
    4. File issues
    5. Supported file formats
    6. GPU device driver issues
    7. Wacom device issues
    8. DLL file issues
    9. Memory issues
    10. Preferences file issues
    11. Font issues
    12. Printer issues
    13. Share crash report with Adobe
    14. Improve Illustrator performance

Shift an out-of-gamut color to a printable color

Some colors in the RGB and HSB color models, such as neon colors, cannot be printed, because they have no equivalents in the CMYK model. If you select an out-of-gamut color, an alert triangle  appears in the Color panel or Color Picker.

  1. Click the triangle to shift to the closest CMYK equivalent (which is displayed in a small box by the triangle).

Shift a color to a web-safe color

Web-safe colors are the 216 colors used by all browsers, regardless of the platform. If you select a color that is not web-safe, an alert cube  appears in the Color panel, Color Picker, or Edit Colors/Recolor Artwork dialog box.

  1. Click the cube to shift to the closest web-safe color (which is displayed in a small box by the cube).

Blend colors

The Blend commands create a series of intermediate colors from a group of three or more filled objects, based on the objects’ vertical or horizontal orientation, or on their stacking order. Blending does not affect strokes or unpainted objects.

  1. Select three or more filled objects.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • To fill the intermediate objects with graduated blends between the frontmost and backmost filled objects, choose Edit > Edit Colors > Blend Front To Back.

    • To fill the intermediate objects with graduated blends between the leftmost and rightmost filled objects, choose Edit > Edit Colors > Blend Horizontally.

    • To fill the intermediate objects with graduated blends between the topmost and bottommost filled objects, choose Edit > Edit Colors > Blend Vertically.

Change a color to its inverse or complement

  1. Select the color you want to change.

  2. In the Color panel, select an option from the panel menu:


    Changes each component of a color to the opposite value on the color scale. For example, if an RGB color has an R value of 100, the Invert command will change the R value to 155 (255 – 100 = 155).


    Changes each component of a color to a new value based on the sum of the highest and lowest RGB values in the selected color. Illustrator adds the lowest and highest RGB values of the current color, and then subtracts the value of each component from that number to create new RGB values. For example, suppose you select a color with an RGB value of 102 for red, 153 for green, and 51 for blue. Illustrator adds the high (153) and low (51) values, to end up with a new value (204). Each of the RGB values in the existing color is subtracted from the new value to create new complementary RGB values: 204 – 102 (the current red value) = 102 for the new red value, 204 – 153 (the current green value) = 51 for the new green value, and 204 – 51 (the current blue value) = 153 for the new blue value.

Change the tint of a color

  1. Select a global process color or spot color in the Swatches panel, or select an object to which you’ve applied a global process color or spot color.

  2. In the Color panel, drag the T slider or enter a value in the text box to modify the color’s intensity. The tint range is from 0% to 100%; the lower the number, the lighter the tint will be.


    If you don’t see the T slider, make sure that you have a global process color or spot color selected. If you still don’t see the T slider, choose Show Options from the Color panel menu.

  3. To save the tint as a swatch, drag the color to the Swatches panel, or click the New Swatch button in the Swatches panel. The tint is saved with the same name as the base color, but with the tint percentage added to the name. For example, if you saved a color named “Sky Blue” at 50 percent, the swatch name would be “Sky Blue 50%.”

Invert multiple colors

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to invert.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Invert Colors.


    You can use the Color panel to invert individual colors.

Adjust color balance of one or more colors

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to adjust.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Color Balance.

  3. Set the Fill and Stroke options.

  4. Adjust the color values, and then click OK:

    • If you selected any global process colors or spot colors, use the tint slider to adjust the intensity of the colors. Any nonglobal process colors you selected are not affected.

    • If you are working in CMYK color mode and selected nonglobal process colors, use the sliders to adjust the percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.

    • If you are working in RGB color mode and selected nonglobal process colors, use the sliders to adjust the percentages of red, green, and blue.

    • If you want to convert the colors you selected to grayscale, select Grayscale from the Color Mode list and select the Convert option. Then use the slider to adjust the percentage of black.

    • If you selected any global process or spot colors and you want to convert them to nonglobal process colors, select either CMYK or RGB from the Color Mode list (depending on the color mode of the document) and select the Convert option. Then use the sliders to adjust the colors.

Change the color mode of a document

  1. Choose File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color or RGB Color.

Display and output spot colors using Lab values

Some predefined spot colors, such as colors from the TOYO, DIC, and HKS libraries, are defined using Lab values. For backward compatibility with previous versions of Illustrator, colors from these libraries also include CMYK definitions. The Swatches panel lets you control which values, Lab or CMYK, Illustrator uses to display, export, and print these spot colors.

Lab values, when used in conjunction with the correct device profiles, give you the most accurate output across all devices. If color management is critical to your project, Adobe recommends that you display, export, and print spot colors using their Lab values.


To improve on‑screen accuracy, Illustrator uses the Lab values automatically if Overprint Preview is on. It also uses Lab values when printing if you’ve selected Simulate for the Overprints option in the Advanced area of the Print dialog box.

  1. Choose Spot Colors from the Swatches panel menu.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select Use Standard Lab Values Specified By The Book Manufacturer if you want the most accurate display and output of colors.

    • Select Use CMYK Values From The Manufacturer’s Process Book if you want spot colors to match earlier versions of Illustrator.

Convert color to grayscale and vice versa

Convert colors to grayscale

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to convert.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Convert To Grayscale.


    Use the Edit > Edit Colors> Adjust Colors command to convert objects to grayscale and adjust the shades of gray at the same time.

Convert grayscale images to RGB or CMYK

  1. Select the grayscale image.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Convert To CMYK or Convert To RGB (depending on the color mode of the document).

Colorize grayscale or 1-bit images

  1. Select the bitmap object.

  2. Make sure the Fill button in the Tools panel or Color panel is selected.

  3. Use the Color panel to color the image with black, white, a process color, or a spot color.


    If a grayscale image contains an alpha channel, you cannot colorize the image with a process color. Select a spot color instead.

Adjust the saturation of multiple colors

  1. Select the objects whose colors you want to adjust.

  2. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Saturate.

  3. Enter a value from –100% to 100% to specify the percentage by which to decrease or increase the color or the spot-color tint.

Mix overlapping colors

You can use blending modes, the Hard Mix effect, or the Soft Mix effect to mix overlapping colors.

Blending modes

Provide many options for controlling overlapping colors, and should always be used in place of Hard Mix and Soft Mix for artwork containing spot colors, patterns, gradients, text, or other complex artwork.

Hard Mix effect

Combines colors by choosing the highest value of each of the color components. For example, if Color 1 is 20% cyan, 66% magenta, 40% yellow, and 0% black; and Color 2 is 40% cyan, 20% magenta, 30% yellow, and 10% black, the resulting hard color is 40% cyan, 66% magenta, 40% yellow, and 10% black.

Soft Mix effect

Makes the underlying colors visible through the overlapping artwork, and then divides the image into its component faces. You specify the percentage of visibility you want in the overlapping colors.

You can apply blending modes to individual objects, whereas you must apply the Hard Mix and Soft Mix effects to entire groups or layers. Blending modes affect both the fill and stroke of an object, whereas the Hard and Soft Mix effects result in removal of an object’s stroke.


In most cases, applying the Hard Mix or Soft Mix effect to objects painted using a mix of process and spot colors converts the color to CMYK. In the case of mixing a non-global process RGB color with a spot RGB color, all spot colors are converted to a non-global process RGB color.

Mix colors using the Hard Mix effect

  1. Target the group or layer.

  2. Choose Effect > Pathfinder > Hard Mix.

Mix colors using the Soft Mix effect

  1. Target the group or layer.

  2. Choose Effect > Pathfinder > Soft Mix.

  3. Enter a value between 1% and 100% in the Mixing Rate text box to determine the percentage of visibility you want in the overlapping colors, and click OK.


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