How to Color in Illustrator

Below, we've shared how to color in Illustrator, using a variety of built-in tools and techniques. 

Fills and Strokes
Before you learn about specific coloring methods, it's important to familiarize yourself with fills and strokes. These two colors can be found at the bottom of the Tools panel. A fill color applies to anything inside an object, while the stroke color refers to an object's visible outline. 

Painting an Object
Once you've drawn an object on the artboard, it's easy to apply colorful fills and strokes to that shape. Objects are made from a single path, so they can only be filled with a single color. This is the most basic way to add color in Illustrator, but it's useful when creating solid-colored shapes.   

Painting a Live Paint Group
Unlike normal Illustrator objects, a live paint group is more like a coloring book, allowing you to fill any enclosed section (called a "face") with a unique color. These sections can be part of the same path, or part of two different paths that cross over each other. Path sections can have a distinct stroke color as well (called an "edge"). This allows for more flexibility and variety in the coloring process. 

To convert an object to a live paint group, select the path(s) in question, and then choose "Object" > "Live Paint" > "Make". You may lose some effects (such as transparency) in the conversion process. 

Applying a Fill Color
First, click on an object with the Selection or Direct Selection tool. Then, double-click the Fill box from the Tools panel (it's located above the Stroke box) to bring up the Color Picker. Inside the Color Picker window, you can choose between a wide variety of fill colors. If you prefer to use a gradient or swatch color, you can also drag it onto the object from its respective panel. 

Drawing Multiple Fills and Strokes 
To add more than one fill or stroke to the same object — which can create a variety of colorful effects — you'll need to access the Appearance panel. Just go to "Window" > "Appearance" to make the panel visible. Next, click on the object(s) that you wish to edit, and choose "Add New Fill" or "Add New Stroke" from the Appearance panel. Finally, select the color for your new fill or stroke.  

  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?