How to Use the Illustrator Live Paint Bucket

Since Adobe Illustrator CS2, designers and artists have utilized the Live Paint feature to fill areas with different colors, even if the areas are not predefined as a separate vector. The Illustrator Live Paint Bucket makes painting a more spontaneous and fun process, so you can decide how to color a shape in the moment, without worrying about the various vectors that make up your design. In this practical guide, we've shared how to use the Illustrator Live Paint Bucket, so you can adopt a more intuitive workflow during the painting phase. 

What Makes Live Paint Different?
Let's say you have an arrangement of shapes that are connected to each other. Before Live Paint was introduced, you would only be able to color the shapes that were actually part of the vector object. If any shapes existed in the spaces between these vectors, you would not be able to fill them in with color. Now, with the Live Paint Bucket, you can treat all shapes as you see them on the screen. 

Live Paint also works exceptionally well when you scan a drawing, import it into Illustrator, and then choose to fill in certain areas with color, just like a coloring book. You can use the handy Live Trace function to quickly trace anything you scan onto the computer, and then switch to Live Paint to finish the job. 

Applying Fills with the Live Paint Bucket
To fill an unspecified area that exists between vector objects, choose the Selection tool and select all of the objects that surround the non-vector area. Then, choose the Live Paint Bucket tool by clicking and holding on the Eyedropper tool until a submenu appears. 

With the Live Paint Bucket equipped, click on the selected objects to transform them into a Live Paint Group. A special box should now appear around your group, allowing you to make painting edits (fills, gradients, etc) to any shapes located inside the box. 

To apply a fill to your non-vector area, just select a fill color in the Tools panel (you'll see a Fill Box and Stroke Box located at the bottom of the panel) and then click on the desired area with your Live Paint Bucket tool.

Painting Strokes with the Live Paint Bucket
To adjust the Live Paint Bucket settings so that you can paint strokes instead of fills, double-click on the Live Paint Bucket icon in the Tools panel to show the tool's options. Here, you can decide whether the Live Paint Bucket should paint fills or strokes (or both), and adjust the highlight that appears when you move the Live Paint Bucket over a paintable section. 

Once "Paint Strokes" is enabled in the Live Paint Bucket Options, if you position the Bucket cursor over a stroke located inside the Live Paint Group, you'll see a highlight appear around the stroke. Just click on it with the Bucket, and the currently selected stroke color will be applied.  

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