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How do you fill color in Illustrator app?

Welcome to my guide on filling objects with color in Adobe Illustrator! As an experienced Illustrator user, I’ll walk you through the different ways to apply color fills to vector shapes and text in Illustrator. Whether you’re new to Illustrator or looking to improve your skills, this comprehensive tutorial has everything you need to master color filling in Illustrator.

Adding color is an essential part of most Illustrator projects. The application includes a wide range of built-in color filling tools that allow you to quickly and easily apply the exact colors you want. In this article, I’ll cover the fundamentals of filling objects in Illustrator, including:

  • Using the Color panel to select colors
  • Filling objects with the Paint Bucket tool
  • Applying color to stroked paths
  • Filling enclosed shapes with the Shape Builder tool
  • Using the Live Paint Bucket tool for complex fills
  • Applying gradients and patterns
  • Copying color attributes between objects

Follow along as I walk through each method in detail. I’ll also provide tips to help you work quickly and achieve precise color results. Let’s get started!

Selecting Colors in the Color Panel

The first step in applying color in Illustrator is selecting the color you want to use. The Color panel (Window > Color) provides quick access to color options:

  • Swatches – Custom swatches you save for reuse.
  • Color Books – Preset color libraries like Pantone.
  • Color Groups – Organize swatches into groups.
  • Color Wheel – Visualize colors and create custom shades.
  • Color Bars – Sliders for RGB, CMYK, and HSColorB values.

To select a color, click on any existing swatch or use the color bars or wheel to pick a custom color. The selected color will be set as your Fill color. Let’s see how to apply it…

Filling Objects with the Paint Bucket Tool

The Paint Bucket tool is the fastest way to apply a solid color fill to shapes and text. To use it:

  1. Select the object you want to fill.
  2. Choose the Paint Bucket tool from the Tools panel.
  3. Click anywhere inside the object to fill it with the currently selected Fill color.

You can fill multiple objects at once by selecting them together before using the Paint Bucket. The tool automatically detects gaps and fills enclosed shapes. Give it a try on your own designs!

Applying Color to Stroked Paths

By default, shapes in Illustrator have a black stroke (outline) with no fill. Here are two ways to add color to stroked paths:

  1. Select the object and change the Stroke color in the Color panel.
  2. Draw a new shape with the Pen tool while having your desired color set as the stroke color.

This lets you create open shapes with colored outlines, perfect for line art illustrations.

Filling Enclosed Shapes with the Shape Builder Tool

The Shape Builder tool lets you combine separate shapes into a single filled object. To use it:

  1. Draw two or more overlapping shapes.
  2. Select the Shape Builder tool.
  3. Drag across the areas you want to combine.
  4. Release the mouse to create a new unified shape.

This provides tremendous flexibility for filling complex illustrations quickly and easily.

Using the Live Paint Bucket Tool

The Live Paint Bucket tool offers specialized filling options for compound paths and shapes with gaps or holes. To use Live Paint:

  1. Draw your artwork as separate stroked paths.
  2. Select everything and click the Make button in the Control panel to convert to a Live Paint group.
  3. Select the Live Paint Bucket tool and fill each enclosed region with different colors.

The Live Paint Bucket detects edges and gaps perfectly. Use the Selection tool to adjust colors after filling. The Live Paint feature works best for coloring intricate vector drawings.

Shape Steps to Fill with Color
  1. Draw rectangle shape
  2. Select Fill color
  3. Use Paint Bucket tool to fill shape
  1. Draw ellipse shape
  2. Set Fill color
  3. Click shape with Paint Bucket tool
  1. Create Polystar shape
  2. Choose Fill color in Color panel
  3. Use Paint Bucket to fill star shape

Applying Gradients and Patterns

In addition to solid colors, you can fill Illustrator objects with gradients and patterns:

  • Gradients – Click the Gradient panel to select a linear or radial gradient, or create a custom one.
  • Patterns – Use the Swatches panel to pick preset patterns like polka dots and stripes.

To apply a gradient or pattern, select the object and click the Fill icon in the Tools panel or Color panel. Then choose a gradient or pattern swatch. Adjust the gradient or pattern as needed with the Gradient tool or Pattern Options.

Copying Color Attributes Between Objects

An easy way to match colors between objects is to copy and paste the appearance attributes:

  1. Select the object with the colors you want to copy.
  2. Right-click and choose Copy Appearance.
  3. Select the destination object(s).
  4. Right-click and choose Paste Appearance.

This instantly applies the same Fill and Stroke colors from one object to others. You can also copy and paste individual appearance attributes like just the Fill color.


That covers the essential techniques for filling objects with color in Illustrator! Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Use the Color panel to quickly pick colors for the Fill.
  • The Paint Bucket tool automatically fills selected shapes with the chosen color.
  • Apply colors to strokes by changing the Stroke color.
  • Combine shapes into filled objects with the Shape Builder tool.
  • Use Live Paint for specialized filling of complex Illustrator drawings.
  • Copy appearance attributes to match colors between objects.

Mastering color application in Illustrator just takes some practice. Refer to this guide anytime you need a quick refresher. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions! I’m always happy to help take your Illustrator skills to the next level.