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Why is my background white in Illustrator?

There are a few common reasons why your background may appear white in Adobe Illustrator:

You Have a White Artboard

The most likely reason your background is white is because your document has a white artboard. The artboard in Illustrator defines the boundaries of your document and the background color.

When you create a new document in Illustrator, the default artboard color is white. Any areas outside of your artwork will appear white.

To change the artboard color, go to the Properties panel on the right side of the screen. Click on the color box next to “Color” and choose a new color.

Your Artwork Doesn’t Cover the Whole Artboard

If your artwork, such as shapes or images, does not cover the whole artboard, then the background around your artwork will remain white.

For example, if you have a small circle in the center of the artboard, there will be a white box around it since the artwork doesn’t extend to the edges.

To fix this, make sure your artwork covers the entire artboard or adjust the artboard size to fit your artwork better.

You Have a White Fill Set

Another possibility is that you may have accidentally set a white fill for an object or group in your document. Even if the artboard color is different, a white fill will override it and show white.

To check for this, select individual objects in your artwork and check their fill color in the toolbar. Change any white fill to “None” or the desired fill color.

Also, double check that groups of objects don’t have a white fill overriding your artboard color.

Your View Settings are Incorrect

Illustrator allows you to view your document in different modes which change what is visible in the artwork area.

If your view mode is set to something like Outline View, your artwork will appear without fills and the artboard will show through as white.

To fix this, go to the View menu and choose an option like Preview or GPU Preview to see your artwork with the proper fills and colors.

There is a White Shape Covering the Artboard

In some cases, there may be a white shape, rectangle, or other object that is covering up the entire artboard, making it appear white.

Check the objects at the bottom of the layer panel and see if anything is covering your entire artwork area.

Delete or edit the shape if needed so that your intended background color shows through.

Your Raster Effects Have a White Background

Illustrator allows you to apply raster effects like drop shadows, inner glows, and more to vector objects.

These raster effects are rendered against a transparent or white background by default. If effects extend beyond your artwork, the white background may start showing through.

Try tweaking the settings for the effects to reduce their size or turn off the white background in the effect options.

You Have a Layer Set to White

Illustrator allows you to organize your artwork in layers, which can be stacked on top of each other.

Check that none of your layers are set to a white fill color. Even if layers below have different colors, a white layer could be obscuring them.

Target any white layers in the Layers panel, and change their fill to none or another desired color.

Your Document Color Mode is Set to RGB

Illustrator documents can be in different color modes – RGB, CMYK or Grayscale.

An RGB document has a white background by default, while a CMYK document has a transparent background.

Check the document color mode under File > Document Color Mode and switch it to CMYK if you want a transparent background.

Your Canvas is Visible

Illustrator allows you to show additional canvas area around your artboard, which extends your design space.

This canvas space has a white background fill. If the canvas is visible, it will obscure any other background colors you have set.

To hide the canvas, go to View > Show Canvas and toggle it off. Only your intended artboard will be shown.


In summary, a white background in Illustrator generally occurs due to the artboard fill color, hidden objects, incorrect view settings, raster effects, layers, document color mode, or canvas visibility.

Carefully check each of these areas and adjust the settings to resolve your white background issue. Using the correct document setup and view options is key.

With the right troubleshooting, you should be able to reveal your intended background and have full control over the colors in your Illustrator artwork.

Cause Solution
White artboard fill Change artboard color in Properties panel
Artwork doesn’t cover artboard Resize artboard or extend artwork
White object fill Remove or change white fills
Incorrect view mode Change to Preview or GPU Preview
White shape covering artboard Delete or edit shape
Raster effects have white background Modify effect settings
White layer fill Change layer fill to none
RGB document color mode Switch to CMYK mode
Visible canvas area Toggle off canvas visibility

Manipulating the background in Illustrator takes some troubleshooting, but once you understand the various factors that control it, you can achieve the exact look you want.

Start by checking the artboard fill color, ensuring your artwork extends across the entire area, and verifying no shapes or layers are obscuring the background.

Use the appropriate document color mode for your needs, and disable extras like the canvas and raster effects as needed.

With the right view mode enabled, your background should display as expected. Refer to Illustrator’s settings panels to fine-tune the visibility and appearance of the area around your artwork.

Achieving your ideal background is crucial for mockups, logos, and any design where the space around your graphics matters. Mastering Illustrator’s options will give you the control you need for a polished, professional result.