Can anyone please explain me the difference between expand & expand appearance in illustrator ?

  • I haven't noticed there are two "Expand" menus in Illustrator! :'D I just whizz through those options :'p I only really choose between "Expand/Appearance" vs. "Flatten Transparency". I prefer Flatten Transparency. I dunno the difference either yet. Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 21:00
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a software question that can be answered by just reading the Illustrator user guide helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/user-guide.html
    – Luciano
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


When you Expand Appearance, the stuff inside your Appearance Panel will get turned into individual paths or raster objects. For example, a shape of black color with a new fill of red color and a drop-shadow applied to it in the appearance panel will turn into one black shape, one red shape and one image block which contains the rasterized drop shadow.

When you Expand, the same kind of thing (relatively speaking) happens to the artwork that is not concerning the items in the appearance panel. For example, you can do Expand to a shape filled with a gradient and it will become a series of shapes each filled with a specific color at that point of the gradient, depending on how many steps you specified in the Expand dialog in the section about gradients. Likewise you can do Expand to a Live-Paint object, which 'freezes' the live paint by turning each live-paint section into its own separate vector path.

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