In the following simple artwork, the top most stroke and fill are selected. in the layers panel, the target button is filled for the selected artwork due to additional stroke and fill.

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Now if I drag and delete the filled target button from the layers panel, the button gets blank and the bottom most stroke and fill gets removed from the appearance panel and the artwork. Alright, cool.

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My question arises when I tried to remove appearance attributes manually that is by selecting both bottom most stroke and fill from the appearance panel then delete it,

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the layer target button still is filled after deleting, indicates additional appearance attribute or effects are applied, (actually isn't.)

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Moreover, for this reason, the "object>expand" is dimmed for this simple artwork and "object>expand appearance" is active, making things confusing.

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shouldn't the target button be blank in the layers panel after deleting the extra stroke and fill manually from the appearance panel? What am I missing? (All the transparency is set to normal and opacity is default for every appearance attributes).

  • I can't reproduce this. If I make an object, makes sure it has Basic Appearance, add a stroke and a fill and manually delete them again, the target button becomes blank again as it should. Are you sure that your object actually has Basic Appearance to begin with? (I'm using version 24.3)
    – Wolff
    Dec 13, 2020 at 11:56
  • @Wolff yes, I guess. the "new art has basic appearance" is checked from the appearance panel menu. Dec 13, 2020 at 12:40
  • OK, that should make sure that newly created objects has basic appearance. But just to make sure that you are not overlooking something, try clicking Reduce to Basic Appearance before adding additional stroke and fill. If it's grayed out the object already has basic appearance. Which version do you use?
    – Wolff
    Dec 13, 2020 at 12:57
  • It's just that you show almost every step, but you don't show how the Appearance and Layers panels look before adding additional stroke and fill.
    – Wolff
    Dec 13, 2020 at 12:59
  • @Wolff at first I have drawn very basic rectangular shape with the rectangle tool which had a black stroke and white fill by default. then with the shape selected, the appearance panel menu was showing the "Reduce to Basic Appearance" grayed out. then I click the "clear appearance" button which gave me path with no fill and stroke as shown in these pictures. then from the bottom of the appearance panel I add new fill and stroke consecutively. my next deeds has been shown in these pictures. and I am using Illustrator CC 2019. Dec 13, 2020 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


Note that in your screenshots the appearance indicator is not on a layer it's on an object. That may be an important distinction.

The appearance "meatball", as it's often known (filled circle in layers panel)... has always been a bit "off".

Typically the meatball has been correct for objects but can often be incorrect for layers. In most, if not all versions or AI, once the meatball appears on a layer it won't ever be removed -- regardless of whether there's any appearance attributes. i.e. bug. (seriously, every version from AI8 to AI CC2017 shows this bug with layers. The AI dev team has never found it high priority enough to actually FIX.)

What you are describing would make me think this bug has somehow "metastasized" and may now affect other layer panel items.

In my experience, the failure of the meatball to remove itself from a layer hasn't been a real issue. If the visual anomaly was troublesome, merely copy/pasting the layer contents to a new layer and deleting the stuck meatball layer works. The presence of the meatball has no effect on any artwork, ever.

However, I'm not using the bleeding-edge version of AI at this time. So, it's possible this bug, if it is indeed a bug, only exists there. There's no way to verify it's a bug through this question. It would take direct file examination. But, if the same unexpected behavior can be found when different users repeat a series of steps.... that's typically a good indicator of a bug.

Also, I can't test at the moment, but I wonder if because you are using a "live shape", as indicated by the object having a shape name, i.e. <Rectangle>, that may possibly cause the meatball to appear. I would test the persistence of the meatball on a non-live shape.

  • one thing to be noted: when working with a web-large(1920x1080) document, by default, the stroke alignment from the stroke panel is set to inside resulting any artwork to have an appearance attribute at the first place causing the sub-layer target button filled in without adding any extra appearance from the appearance panel. is there any possibility that other document presets or custom document get these kind of "hidden" attributes? Dec 14, 2020 at 4:38
  • 1
    @MorshedSakib it's absolutely possible. The meatball merely indicates a non-standard appearance.. that can be any number of things.
    – Scott
    Dec 14, 2020 at 4:41

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