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  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

Learn how to trap color between objects and trapping options in Illustrator.

Where colors printed from separate plates overlap or adjoin one another, incorrect registration by the printer can cause gaps between colors on the final output. You can use a Trap (a small area of overlap between colors) to compensate for potential gaps between colors in your artwork.

There are two types of traps:

  1. Spread: A lighter object overlaps a darker background and seems to expand into the background.

  2. Choke: A lighter background overlaps a darker object that falls within the background and seems to squeeze or reduce the object.

This is a Spread trap
This is a Spread trap

This is a Choke trap
This is a Choke trap

Create a trap

The Trap option creates traps for simple objects. It identifies the lighter-colored artwork (object or background) and overprints (trapping) it into the darker artwork. Apply the Trap option from the Pathfinder panel or as an effect, and alter the settings at any time.

  1. Ensure your artwork is in CMYK color.

    If your artwork is in RGB mode, go to File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color.

  2. Select two or more objects.
  3. Follow any of these options:

    • To apply the command directly to the objects, go to Window > Pathfinder. Select Trap from the panel menu.

    • To apply the command as an effect, go to Effect > Pathfinder >Trap. Select Preview if you want to preview the effect.

  4. Set trap options, and select OK.

A. Area of overprinting B. Area of knockout C. Background color D. Foreground color
What the Trap command does

A. Area of overprinting B. Area of knockout C. Background color D. Foreground color 

Trap options


Specifies a stroke width between 0.01 and 5000 points. Check with your print shop to determine what value to use.


Specifies the trap on horizontal lines as a percentage of the trap on vertical lines. Specifying different horizontal and vertical trap values lets you compensate for on‑press irregularities, such as paper stretch. Contact your print shop for help in determining this value. The default value of 100% results in the same trap width on horizontal lines and on vertical lines. To increase the trap thickness on horizontal lines without changing the vertical trap, set the Height/Width value to greater than 100%. To decrease the trap thickness on horizontal lines without changing the vertical trap, set the Height/Width value to less than 100%.

Tint Reduction

Reduces the tint of the lighter color being trapped; the darker color remains at 100%. This option is useful when trapping two light-colored objects, where the trap line may show through the darker of the two colors, resulting in an unsightly dark border. For example, if you trap a light yellow object into a light blue object, a bright green border is visible where the trap is created. Check with your print shop to find out what percentage of tint is most appropriate given the type of press, inks, paper stock, and so on being used.

Traps With Process Color

Converts spot-color traps to equivalent process colors. This option creates an object of the lighter of the spot colors and overprints it.

Reverse Traps

Traps darker colors into lighter colors. This option does not work with rich black—that is, black that contains additional CMY inks.

Precision (as effect only)

Affects how precisely an object's path is calculated. The more precise the calculation, the more accurate the drawing and the more time is required to generate the resulting path.

Remove Redundant Points (as effect only)

Removes unnecessary points.

Create a spread or choke

For more precise control of trapping and for trapping complex objects, you can create the effect of a trap by stroking an object and setting the stroke to overprint.

  1. Select the topmost object of the two objects that must trap into each other.
  2. In the Stroke box in the Tools panel or the Color panel, follow any of these options:

    • To create a spread, enter the same color values for the Stroke as in the Fill.

    • To create a choke, enter the same color values for the Stroke as in the lighter background. Here, the Stroke and Fill values will differ.

  3. Go to Window > Stroke.

  4. Enter a stroke width between 0.01 and 1000 points for the Weight option.

    Your trap value is half of the stroke width value. Check with your print shop to determine the stroke width.

  5. Go to Window > Attributes.

  6. Check Overprint Stroke or Overprint Fill.

Object stroked with fill color
Object stroked with fill color

Object stroked with background color
Object stroked with background color

A. Overprinted stroke creates choke trap B. Fill creates knockout C. Area of trap D. Area of knockout 

Trap a line

  1. Select the line to be trapped.
  2. In the Stroke box in the Tools panel or the Color panel, assign the stroke a color of white.
  3. In the Stroke panel, select the desired line weight.
  4. Copy the line, and choose Edit >Paste In Front. The copy is used to create a trap.
  5. In the Stroke box in the Tools panel or the Color panel, stroke the copy with the desired color.
  6. In the Stroke panel, choose a line weight that is wider than the bottom line.
  7. Choose Window > Attributes.
  8. Select Overprint Stroke for the top line.
Copy of stroke used for spread trap
Copy of stroke used for spread trap

A. Overprinted top stroke creates spread trap B. Bottom stroke creates knockout C. Area of knockout D. Area of trap 

Trap a portion of an object

  1. Draw a line along the edge or edges that you want to trap. If the object is complex, use the Direct Selection   tool to select the edges to be trapped, copy them, and choose Edit > Paste In Front to paste the copy directly on top of the original.

  2. In the Stroke box in the Tools panel or the Color panel, select a color value for the Stroke to create either a spread or a choke.
  3. Choose Window > Attributes.
  4. Select Overprint Stroke.
Drop shadow with a trap (left) is based on the line drawn where the object and its drop shadow meet (right).
Drop shadow with a trap (left) is based on the line drawn where the object and its drop shadow meet (right).

Tips and tricks

  • Trapping isn't necessary for overlapping painted objects with a common color, creating an automatic trap.
  • Don't apply mixed process colors or tints of process colors to text (type) at small point sizes, as any incorrect registration can make the text difficult to read.
  • Trapping text at small point sizes can result in hard-to-read text. As with tint reduction, check with your print shop before trapping such text. For example, if you're printing black text on a colored background, just overprint the text onto the background.
  • In cases where the top and bottom objects have similar color densities, and none of the colors is darker than the other, the Trap option determines the trap based on slight color differences.
  • You can use the Reverse Trap option if the trap specified by the Trap dialog box isn't satisfactory.

Related resources

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The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online