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Quick Tip: How to Quickly Recolor Complex Objects with the Appearance Panel

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Vector designers often faced with a problem when they need to change the colors in their work. The usage of the Recolor Artwork function is not very effective sometimes, and some of the changes can't be done that way. Today I will tell you how to quickly recolor a difficult vector object using the Appearance panel. You will also be able to change the lighting and texture. Let's begin!

Adjusting of Color

To demonstrate the technique I will be using my vector artwork "Mailbox Icon"

In the examples, I will show you how to adjust the colors of the mailbox without changing other objects such as background, with the help of the Appearance panel. Before starting our work, group all the objects you want to adjust the colors of.

Select our group and open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance (Shift + F6).

Press the Add New Fill button on the Appearance panel.

Set the Multiply Blending Mode on the Transparency panel, change the RGB mode into the HSB on the Color panel. Adjust the color slightly moving the sliders on the Color panel.


To discolor the object you should set the Color Blending Mode in the Transparency panel and select black as a fill.

Note that if you use the standard Recolor Artwork function in Adobe Illustrator, you won't get such a result.


To render the objects use the Color Blending Mode in the Transparency panel and change the color of the filling in the Color panel moving the HUE slider.

How to Change the Brightness

Using the Overlay Blending Mode in the Transparency panel we can change the brightness while moving the Brightness slider on the Color panel. Our image retains contrast while we do that.

Adjusting the Lighting

After using the Overlay Blending Mode in the Transparency panel and the black and while radial or linear gradient as a fill, you can not only adjust the color but also lighten or darken appropriate parts of the objects. The gradient control can be made with the help of the Gradient Tool (G).

Texture Mapping

We can put the texture over the objects. To do so, we use the Overlay Blending Mode in the Transparency panel. Open the Swatches panel and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns on the fly-out menu, and use it as a fill. This method allows us quickly put the texture over the complex vector objects without using the Clipping Mask.


I hope that these small tips were useful for you. Using the described techniques you can save you working time and spend it on your creativity.

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