Learn the basics of working with colors in Adobe Illustrator, including how to change color, create swatches, recolor artwork, and more.

Change the color of artwork

Explore how to apply color to artwork using existing colors and colors you create.

What you learned: Color artwork

  • Vector artwork in Illustrator can have a stroke (border) and a fill. The fill or stroke can be a color, gradient, or pattern.
  • Find the fill color and stroke color in the Properties panel to the right of the document. Clicking the fill color or stroke color reveals colors saved in a document, called swatches, by default.
  • Open the Color Picker by double-clicking the stroke or fill box at the bottom of the Tools panel on the left. Use the Color Picker to create a custom color visually, by entering color values, or by choosing from a library of color.

Create color swatches

Learn how to save a color you create as a swatch for later use.

What you learned: Create color swatches

  • Save custom colors as swatches by clicking the fill color or stroke color in the Properties panel to the right of the document and selecting the Swatches option to reveal the swatches in the document.
  • Click the New Swatch button at the bottom of the panel that appears.
  • Name the color and set options. Click OK to save the color as a swatch.
  • Apply the new swatch by selecting artwork and clicking the fill color or stroke color in the Properties panel, selecting the Swatches option, and selecting the swatch.

Add dashed lines and arrows

Discover how to add creative dashed lines and arrowheads to your artwork.

What you learned: Add dashes and arrows

  • Select a path or shape with the Selection tool in the Tools panel. Click the Stroke option in the Properties panel to the right of the document.
  • In the Stroke panel, you can align the stroke to the path with Align options, select the Dashed Line option to apply a dash, set dash options, select an arrowhead for the start and/or end of a path, and set sizing options.

Create color gradients

Discover how to create, edit, and apply custom gradients.

What you learned: Create gradients

  • Gradients blend from one color to another.
  • Apply a default gradient to the fill or stroke of artwork by clicking the fill color or stroke color in the Properties panel to the right of the document and selecting a saved gradient swatch. Click Gradient Options to open the Gradient panel.
  • In the Gradient panel, select the fill color. Double-click color stops in the color ramp to edit them.
  • Select the Gradient tool in the Tools panel. Drag across artwork with a gradient fill to change the length, direction, and duration of a gradient.

Change the color of artwork

Discover a method for recoloring artwork in a few steps using Recolor artwork.

What you learned: Recolor artwork using a color wheel, libraries of predefined colors, or pick a color palette from artwork or images using the Color Theme Picker

Recolor artwork using the Recolor Artwork dialog box.

  1. Select artwork to recolor.
  2. Click the Recolor button in the Properties panel to the right, to open the Recolor Artwork dialog box. Colors from the selected artwork show on a color wheel.
  3. Drag one color handle in the color wheel to edit them all. Click the Link Unlink Harmony Colors button to unlink the colors and edit colors individually.
  4. From the Color Library menu, choose color groups, document swatches, or preset color themes to recolor artwork.
  5. Click the Color Theme Picker button and click both vector and raster objects on the canvas to sample and apply the color. Drag a selection through vector artwork to sample specific colors.
  6. In the Prominent Colors section of the Recolor dialog box, adjust the weight of a color in your artwork by dragging the handle between colors.
  7. To save all the colors in the Swatches panel, click the folder icon at the bottom of the dialog box. Choose either Save All Colors or Save Prominent Colors to only save the colors shown in the Prominent Colors section.
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