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Can you recolor in Illustrator?

Yes, recoloring artwork in Adobe Illustrator is easy with a variety of tools and techniques. Illustrator provides many options for changing the colors of vector graphics quickly and precisely.

Why Recolor in Illustrator?

There are several key reasons why designers use Illustrator to recolor artwork:

  • Non-destructive editing – With vectors, you can change colors without damaging the original artwork.
  • Retain image quality – Recoloring in vectors doesn’t cause quality loss or pixelation issues.
  • Editability – Vectors allow colors to be changed instantly with a few clicks.
  • Flexibility – Many options for selecting/changing colors in specific or all elements.
  • Color management – Illustrator provides precision color tools for print and web.

Overall, recoloring vectors in Illustrator gives designers maximum control and flexibility for updating artwork quickly.

Ways to Recolor Artwork

Here are the main methods for changing colors in Illustrator:

1. Change Fill & Stroke Colors

The quickest way to recolor is using the Fill and Stroke settings in the Tools panel or Control Bar. With an object selected, simply click the Fill or Stroke color preview to open the color picker and choose a new color.

2. Use Direct Selection Tool

Select the Direct Selection Tool and click on any path or shape to automatically bring up the Fill and Stroke options. Pick new colors to instantly recolor the selected element.

3. Select Same Fill Color

Use the Select > Same > Fill Color command to automatically select all objects with the same fill. Then change colors to batch recolor artwork.

4. Live Color Editing

Live Color allows you to dynamically sample colors and apply to artwork by clicking and dragging. Useful for quickly shifting hue, saturation, and brightness.

5. Change Swatches

Update global colors used in your document by editing the Swatches panel. Any artwork using that swatch will update.

6. Recolor Artwork Tool

The Recolor Artwork tool allows you to shift colors selectively based on hue, saturation, and brightness. Perfect for retargeting colors to a specific color scheme.

7. Change Gradient Stops

For gradient fills, double-click the gradient grip to update the color, position, opacity and more of each gradient stop to create new color combinations.

8. Edit Colors in Isolation Mode

Isolation Mode lets you select and recolor smoothly filled or outlined objects easily without affecting other artwork.

Tips for Recoloring Vectors

Follow these tips for successfully updating colors in your Illustrator projects:

  • Use layers to easily control which elements change.
  • Save color themes as swatch groups for quick access.
  • Try Live Color first for quick color exploration.
  • Change stroke colors along with fills for consistency.
  • Match new colors to existing brand colors for unity.
  • Be consistent with light/shadow colors to retain form.
  • Review artwork on multiple color profiles to test.
  • Change linked images along with vectors for harmony.

Key Recoloring Tools in Illustrator

The most essential tools for recoloring vectors and artwork in Illustrator include:

Tool Use
Fill & Stroke Quickly change fill and stroke colors of selected objects.
Direct Selection Select and edit colors of individual paths.
Select > Same Select artwork with same attributes like fill color.
Live Color Interactively sample and apply colors by dragging.
Swatches Panel Globally update colors assigned to swatches.
Recolor Artwork Change colors selectively based on hue, saturation, and brightness.
Gradient Panel Edit the colors, opacity, position, etc. of gradient fills.
Isolation Mode Recolor smooth filled/outlined objects easily.

Additional Tips

Here are some other tips for recoloring artwork efficiently in Illustrator:

  • Use the Color Guide panel to sample colors from references or artwork.
  • Try different Color Modes like CMYK or RGB for more color options.
  • Convert Pantone colors to CMYK or RGB for flexibility.
  • Study color theory principles to select appealing color schemes.
  • Create gradients between old and new colors for blended recoloring.


Recoloring in Illustrator is fast and straightforward with the right tools and techniques. Take advantage of non-destructive editing, color management, and selection controls for precise color changes. Plan recolors carefully in relation to branding needs, color harmony rules, and final output requirements. With some practice, you can easily update artwork colors in Illustrator to create fresh looking designs and illustrations.