I've always been using this Color Picker window, which you see after double clicking Fill/Stroke UI element in Illustrator. It feels easy and flexible to me maybe because I don't know properly how to use other color panel options in Illustrator. enter image description here

What main feature I like in this:

(The following 2 images will explain my this paragraph). As you see, sometimes I need less shiny/bright color, for example, bright red or bright green doesn't always feel cool in illustrations. So what I do is click on approx. color that I need (The vertical color bar you can see, which has all colors) and then move to left in Select Color: option. Here I do what I use most. I move the pointer here and there to adjust brightness/darkness and the dusty look of colors, as shown in 2 images. There are N number of directions where you can move it and get the dusty or bright or whatever look of the color.

enter image description here enter image description here

Similarly, I can get any shade of grey color easily: enter image description here

Now, I just came to know from my last question that Color Panel in Illustrator should be used, instead of this.

Here is the image of that:

enter image description here

Now, here the 1st step is same. You just click and primary color in the color area. But now, you (I) can't do all the remaining steps, unless you highly brainstorm with those R, G, B scales manually, I guess. Or you select color from some other source and paste the color code into it.

Also, suppose you clicked on red colored area and you want similar dusty red, so you move the picker little below so it gets dark, but there's risk that yellow will also get mixed with it as it is adjacent to it. But actually you want black in it.

Honestly, I'm confident in selecting only Red, Yellow, Green, Light Blue, Blue, Pink, Red, White and Black colors only in Color Panel.

For some reasons, I don't use swatches usually. I like fresh colors. I hope you got my problem. Is there any solution for it or is there something to explore or some flexibility that I don't know yet?

3 Answers 3


This answer is using Illustrator CS6 screenshots and animations because... to date.. I find that the best version of Illustrator for a few reasons. The panel operations have been the same for a few decades. It's unlikely you'll find the basic panel operations different than what may detailed here.

The first thing to do with the Color Panel is to Show Options if they aren't already displayed. This way you can see color sliders.

enter image description here

You'll see sliders for whichever color mode the document is currently in, RGB or CMYK....

enter image description here

The Color Ramp at the bottom of the panel is there as a general target area. It is not meant to be a precise color selector. You can increase the ramp size by increasing the panel size.

enter image description here

Again, this is just to generally target a color area - blue, red, yellow, etc. not pick a specific color. You can hold the mouse down as you drag over the ramp and the color will change in a fluid manner.

(The polarized display of the color ramp in the animations here is due to the gif format (for animation) and dithering. The ramp is always smooth within the application, other than the Web Safe ramp. I'm uncertain if anyone actually uses "web safe" colors in today's world.)

Once you pick a general area of color from the ramp, you can then use the sliders above the ramp to further target the color you're after.

enter image description here

If you depress the Command or Ctrl key then click a slider and drag, you'll find all the sliders will move in unison.

For CMYK, A slider will only move in unison if the stop has a value other than 0 or 100%. CMYK slider stops "stick" at either 0 or 100% - see the K slider stop in the animation below and how it remains at 0 while other stops move. For RGB documents, slider stops will "stick" at 255, but not "stick" at 0.

enter image description here

This can be helpful to refine a color without overly altering it's hue.

The most useful part of the panel for many are the HSB sliders - Hue, Saturation, Brightness.

enter image description here

This is where you can tweak specific aspects of a color similar to the Color Picker options. You can increase/decrease Saturation to add/remove color vibrancy. Increase/Decrease Brightness to lighten/darken a color. Or alter the hue slider to get a different color range.

enter image description here

(Note: The Command/Ctrl shortcut trick for slider unison will not work on the HSB sliders.)

The annoying aspect of the Color Panel, at least up to CC2019, has been the inability of the panel to stick to HSB. The panel has a tendency to auto-switch back to sliders based upon the document profile (CMYK/RGB). This forces the user to constantly reset the panel to HSB sliders. Users have repeatedly asked for a fix for this, but as of CC2019 there is none.

With all this any color you want is achievable from the Color Panel. There's really little or no need for the OS-driven Color Picker in Illustrator. In fact, the Color Picker is merely there mostly so users see it when they expect to see it - a way of making Photoshop, Indesign, Corel, Quark, Xara, Freehand, etc. users more comfortable.

There's nothing wrong with choosing color from the Color Picker. However, often the issue can be the double-click to open the Picker, especially on things like Gradient Color Stops. If you prefer to use the Picker, there's no harm in it. But you may need to adjust your inherent desire to double-click to open the Picker and instead click an object (or color stop) once, then click/dblclick the color square in the Toolbar or Color Panel to bring up the Picker.

I'll be frank, I've used Illustrator since it's inception (v1.0) and I have never opened the Color Picker in Illustrator while working. Not once. I've only ever opened it to take a screenshot of it like I did for this answer. But that's merely my workflow and I'm not by any means advocating that anyone need work how I work. I simply learned Illustrator and familiarized myself with the Panel long before the Picker was ever part of Illustrator. However, when I hear or see users expressing "pain points" with the Color Picker, my reaction is often to question why they are even bothering with the (unnecessary) Picker.

(For clarity, use of the term "Picker" or "Color Picker" above refers to THIS window.)

  • This must be the full story about the Color panel.
    – Wolff
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 22:01
  • This is where I got to with this question as well- Learn how to use the Color Panel or keep using the Color Picker if you prefer- you will just have to learn the quirks of the Color Picker...
    – Kyle
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 17:46
  • I won't comment right now if it will solve my problem or not. But I'll definitely start trying color panel from now on. Will comment after having experience with it.
    – Vikas
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 6:31

You can't get the exact same functionality with the Color panel as with the Color Picker, but you can click the sandwich menu in the upper right corner and choose HSB to get another way of choosing color.

Now you can choose a hue (H) and experiment with the saturation (S) and brightness (B) sliders without changing the hue.

If you set saturation to 0, you can use the brightness slider to choose between gray tones.

  • I like Photoshop's Color panel as it as same color picker functionality. Can't we change this color area (I mean instead of multiple colors in color area, just single color like color picker area) just like Photoshop?
    – Vikas
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 5:20
  • Also, how did you change the color area view to textured one?
    – Vikas
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 5:22
  • No, that's what I answer. You can't get the exact same functionality, but something close. You only have the options available in the sandwich menu. (The textured look comes from the gif having too few colors to show a smooth gradient. 😀)
    – Wolff
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 12:43
  • lol for the 2nd query.
    – Vikas
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 13:36
  • Doesn't it look complicated @Wolff the colored area, I mean side by side colors are confusing while picking color, unlike Photoshop color picker. where only one color and its variations are shown.
    – Vikas
    Commented Nov 11, 2020 at 13:37


Just learn to use the HSB. HSB is much more understandable, because it is how we experience color. Lets say we have a Ferrari and it is in a shadow. Hue: the color (red) Saturation: how much pigment is in the paint (maximum) Brightness: how much light falls on that paint (50% shadow)

If you don't know why you should use HSB it is frustrating but then you like it. Just think about it, if you have pure white but it is in a shadow, then it is no longer white, it is gray and if it is in a dark room it is black. You can do that with HSB.

Overall I recommend watching "Understanding Color" and "Lighting Mastery" by Blender Guru on YouTube. They are really worth watching!

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