How to Recolor Artwork in Adobe Illustrator

This page may contain links from our sponsors. Here’s how we make money.

We all know that color is the essence of any artwork. It's the language through which artwork communicates its message and tone. And recoloring artwork can bring new life to a design, giving it a fresh and captivating look. Fortunately, Adobe Illustrator offers a fantastic tool that makes recoloring artwork easy, smooth, and flexible.

In this tutorial, we'll discuss how to recolor artwork and provide you with a comprehensive guideline to master this incredible feature of Illustrator.

What is the Recolor Artwork Tool?

When I was new to the design field, I had to go through a time-consuming task where I searched all over the internet for perfect color palettes for my artwork. That was until I discovered the Recolor Artwork functionality in Illustrator, which saved hours of my time. With the help of this tool, I no longer had to worry about colors as I could effortlessly create my own perfect color palette.

The Recolor Artwork Tool enables us to recolor our designs using the predefined colors or craft our own unique color palettes using the color wheel, color library, or using the color picker to pick colors from the artwork or design we're working on.

Recolor Artwork Tool in Illustrator

How to Open the Recolor Artwork

There are two ways you can access the Recolor Artwork:

  • Go to the Properties panel and select the Recoloring option.
  • Alternatively, Go to the Edit menu located in the overhead toolbar. From there, select Edit Colors and choose Recolor Artwork from the extended menu.
Properties Panel
Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork

Options Displayed in the Recolor Artwork

  • Undo: If you wish to cancel the recent changes, press the Undo button.
  • Redo: In case you want to restore the previous change that had been undone, press the Redo button.
  • Reset: The Reset button will clear all the changes and adjustments that have been made, restoring the original state of the Recolor Artwork.
  • Color Library: In the Color Library, you'll find all the predefined colors.
  • Colors: In this option, you can choose the number of colors you want to display in your artwork.
  • Color Theme Picker: With the Color Theme Picker, you can pick colors from various images or designs and apply them to your artwork.
  • Color Wheel: In the Color Wheel, all the colors are displayed for your selection.
  • Color Order: Clicking on this button will change the color order randomly.
  • Saturation and Brightness: Clicking on this button will randomly adjust the saturation and brightness of colors.
  • Link/Unlink Harmony Colors: This option enables you to change colors of all color stops together. Deselect this option if you want to change the color stops individually.
  • Prominent Colors: This option displays all the prominent colors based on the hue and other properties of colors.
  • Adjusting Slide for Saturation, Hue, and Brightness: With the help of this slide bar, you can control and adjust the saturation, hue, and brightness of colors in your artwork.
  • Save: To save your final selection of colors, click on Save.
  • Advanced Recolor Options: There are more advanced settings for recoloring artwork. To access more advanced options, click on the Advanced Recolor Option button.

How to Recolor Artwork

As mentioned earlier, there are three options to recolor artwork using the Recolor Artwork tool in Illustrator:

  • Color Wheel
  • Color Library
  • Color Theme Picker
Options when recoloring artwork

Now, let's have a look at how each of these options works.

Color Library

The Recolor Artwork Tool offers a variety of predefined colors. To access them, click on the Color Library menu and choose from the listed options in the drop-down menu. You'll find numerous options to choose from. Some of them are pretty good. Take your time to explore the options and select the one that best fits your artistic vision.

Color library options

Here, I am choosing Baroque from the Art History group, showing you an example.

Example of one of the choices from the color library

Color Theme Picker

Color Theme Picker enables you to pick or extract color palettes from other artwork, images, or designs present on the artboard or canvas and use those colors to recolor your artwork.

Step 1

First, we need to activate the tool. Click on the Color Theme Picker located just below the Colors section, to activate the tool.

Step 2

Hover the mouse pointer over the object from which you want to extract or pick colors for your artwork, and click on it.

Example of one of the options from the color theme picker

To extract from multiple sources, hold down the Shift key and click on the objects.

Color Wheel

In the Color Wheel, you'll see the color stops for all the colors contained in your artwork.


There's a color handle in the center of the color wheel. Click, hold, and move this handle around the color wheel to explore other colors for your artwork.

Color Wheel

Step 2

You can choose your color either using the Color Picker or the Select Shade option. Right-click on the color handle and select either Color Picker or Select Shade.

Select shade or use the color picker

How to Add New Color Stop on a Color Wheel

You can add new color stops on the color wheel. Right-click anywhere on the color wheel and select Add New Color from the drop-down menu. Move this new color stop and select your desired color for it.

Adding a color to the wheel

Removing a Color Stop from the Color Wheel

To remove a color stop from the color wheel, right-click on the color stop that you want to remove from the color wheel and select Remove Color.

Removing a color from the wheel

How to Save Colors in the Recolor Artwork

When you're finished recoloring your artwork, save the colors in the color swatches panel for future use. Recolor Artwork offers two options for saving your colors. Choosing Save All Colors will save all colors in the swatches panel while selecting Save Prominent Colors will only save the colors displayed in the Prominent Color section. You'll find the saved colors as a color group in the Color Library.

Saving colors

Recolor Artwork opens up a world of endless creative possibilities, allowing you to experiment with different color schemes and create stunning visual outcomes. I hope this article will guide you on your journey of recoloring artworks.