Learn the basics of working with colors in Adobe Illustrator, including how to change color, create swatches, recolor artwork, and more.
What you'll need
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.
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.
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.
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.
What you learned: Recolor artwork
- Select the artwork to recolor.
- Click the Recolor button in the Properties panel to the right, to open the Recolor Artwork dialog box.
- Select the Edit tab to view colors in the selected artwork in a color wheel.
- Drag individual colors in the color wheel to edit them.
- Click the eyedropper to get the original colors from the artwork again, if needed.
- Click the Link Harmonies button to edit all of the colors together. Drag individual colors in the color wheel to edit the colors together.
- Click OK to change the color for the selected artwork.