I know the artboard in Illustrator is transparent by default, but it's shown as white. Or a different color, if you set it up to simulate colored paper.

However, I'm not sure if it's possible to set it up as a transparency grid.

I know I can activate the transparency grid by hitting CTRL+SHIFT+D, but my issue with that is that about 80% of my screen will then be filled up with a transparency grid: Which kind of hurts my eyes.

I'd like to be able to limit it to just my artboard, similar to how Photoshop allows you to view a transparent artboard.

So only have the transparency grid appear in the confines of that square you see in the picture above.

3 Answers 3


As far as I know, you can't.

However there's a workaround that might help you. You could draw a rectangle the same size as the artboard, fill it with a chequered pattern, then lock the layer. Then place/design your content on layers above. When you have finished you could always hide/delete the pattern layer.

  • Thanks for your reply. I was afraid this would be the answer. I quickly realized I could simulate this feature by doing just that, but I was hoping for something a little less botchy. The issue being that the pattern won't scale to be always the same size when you're zooming in, like the transparency grid does. Not yet marking this as solved.
    – KamielDev
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 16:08
  • @KamielDev well you can draw a shape with a color for anything outside the artboard.
    – joojaa
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 18:43
  • @KamielDev - you could always make a feature request at the Adobe forum.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 19:05

There's an important difference between Photoshop and Illustrator here.

In Photoshop, only what is on the canvas is ever exported/output. It doesn't matter what, if anything is outside the canvas. It is completely ignored upon output. In fact, you aren't even visually aware of anything outside the canvas in Photoshop. Therefore there's no need to show you anything outside the canvas, it can't and wont' ever be output.

In Illustrator, the artboard is a tool which can or can not constrain output. You have a choice. You can choose to output what is outside an artboard in Illustrator easily by merely unchecking the "use artboard(s)" option when outputting. This means Illustrator will output the objects entirely and ignore any artboard boundaries.

With this in mind, the transparency grid in Illustrator covers the entire work area specifically because if something is outside any artboard it may still be output. So, it's important to let the user know where object are, and if viewing the transparency grid, where transparency may be.

You can not restrict the transparency grid to an artboard because artboards, in terms of working, are irrelevant. Only if a users choses to use artboard(s) upon output do they matter.

  • This is often forgotten when they implement requests at adobe. Illustrator has some different features from other adobe apps because its used for different purposes. Like say zooming, its fine to zoom to object in indesign but in illustrator im not just looking at whole but also at details like corners, but want to preserve selection. Yeah it makes illustrator weird, but also teaches illustrator being for different purpose.
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 10:29
  • 1
    I absolutely get that this is the type of behaviour you might preffer in Illustrator, however it would be nice to be able to change the background color of whatever's outside of your artboards.
    – KamielDev
    Commented Dec 25, 2019 at 22:47

My solution is to keep transparency grid off and use "Simulate colored paper" set to pale yellow-cream.,Hat tip to https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/31062/8980

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