I am new to Illustrator so I am likely missing a step but when it comes to the fills, I like to choose a root color, make it Global then use the tint to give lighter variances of that color. The problem I have found is that when I am trying to find/make darker variances of the root color, similar to how I can do 50% tint to make it lighter, I have no idea how it is done. Is there a way to make it darker in percentages just as I can make it lighter with the Tint option?

Here is an example for further clarification enter image description here

As you see in Ref 1 and Eg 1 I made an attempt to find the darker shade of the root color by increasing the Key Color value to 100 while leaving the other CMYK values as is, and regardless of what percentage I put the tint thereafter, none of the lighter values matched the root color, by time it reached 60% it was already lighter and a dingy version of it. At 67% it was darker and no increment between them matched. So I am hoping that there is away to increase the darkness as seen in Ref 2, eg. 2 in which I can increase the root color values up in percentages until it is black (NB. the color stops in eg. 2 are not true color I just added colors as a reference).

So in short, I wish to freely decide on a root color for any of my art work and be able to go in both directions for lighter & darker shades as seen in Ref 3. The root color would be considered the middle ground. If that's not possible is there a way to find the darker shade of my root color so when a tint is applied at some point one of the percentages will land on the same color # as the root color?

thanks so much for any assistance.

3 Answers 3


I would use an overlay of a black square using a multiply blending mode.

Some things to clarify.

This can work decently well when you are using CMYK colors. If you use a block of 100% K you will add the transparent amount of K to the color.

If your green is, let's say: C50Y50 you will get C50Y50+Some black depending on the transparency.

If you already have black you will add some to that base black.

Just keep your values below 300% Ink.

If you are using Pantone colors you will start using two inks, a duotone. The base swatch of some color and black.

You can also choose another Pantone color instead of K.

If you are using RGB it is a simple darkening process, so there is no such thing as 100% anything.

I would avoid using the concept of 100% swatch unless I am using spot inks.

Be aware when exporting the resulting color to PDF. You might want to flatten the illustration before exporting because blending modes do not always work as expected on some file formats.

  • Thank you, that is clever thinking, which would be amazing if I didn't need a swatch for each shade stop that I would want to use.
    – Homefly
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 1:48
  • If you are making some kind of palette, you only need to assign transparency on one set and duplicate the squares.
    – Rafael
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 1:58
  • 1
    Ah yes. But it not for squares, it for a landscape design with complex flower arrangements for shapes, paths and such.
    – Homefly
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 2:10
  • Probably you can make swatches for the transparency and apply that to a copy of your main shape.
    – Rafael
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 2:32
  • 1
    Actually, you helped me out more than you know. I took your concept of multiple squares and applied it to the global color swatch tint option. It will be too long to explain in this comment box so I will post it in the regular section (idk what it's call). You definitely planted the seed, a brilliant seed. thank you very much!
    – Homefly
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 3:47

I would like to thank Rafael, https://graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/143789/159189 he inspired a method that is the best solution for what I am trying to do, specifically the color values staying in the same arena.

Basically I took the concept of the multiple squares as mentioned, 10 to be exact, going horizontally across. enter image description here

However instead of taking the transparency route, I made the 1st square my global color at 100% tint and then tinted the remaining in increments with the last at 10%.


  1. I grouped them, copied the group and paralleled them with one beneath the other.
  2. I moved the lower group over so my 100% global color was aligned beneath the upper group's 5th square which was at 60% tint.
  3. I made a copy of the global color and assigned it to the upper group making sure that each square kept its tint percentage.
  4. There after I double clicked the copied global colored assigned to the upper group and edited it within the Swatch Option box that appeared.
  5. It took a bit of time but I basically adjusted the color so that the 5th square on the upper level (which was at Tint 60%) matched as closely as possible to the 1st square at 100% tint of the lower group. However it turned out that the 4th square (at (70%) was almost a perfect match to the lower 1st square. Good enough for me.

And voila, I can now use the increments between 100% & 70 % tint of the new global color for darker tones and repeat the process if I wish to go darker.

Thank you all for help! I hope this benefits others and if you know a faster, easier solution please let me know.


  • This idea works best if the initial Global color is closer to white, I was only able to make it darker once more by only 10%. Not much of an achievement. But in total I was able to raise the darkness by 40% while keeping the color path so that is a bonus.
    – Homefly
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 10:21

No, this cannot be done.

What you are calling "the root color" is your global swatch at 100%.

The percentages can only be less than 100% and not more.

Here is something that may give you closer to what you are looking for:

Click on your global swatch to put it in the Fill box at the top of the Swatch Panel.

Double click that Fill box to activate the Color Picker.

You can raise and lower the numeric values in the B (brightness) input to darken/ lighten your color

  • Yup I tried that prior as well, I thought it might be my fix but the second I move a percentage of the brightness the other criteria in the panel adjust as well taking it off the color path. I was hoping for something along the lines of when using RGB, the color stops from white to black in #'s are ffffff - cccccc - 999999 - 666666 - 333333 - 000000, but applied to colors like red to black instead. That way I could use one of the darker reds at 100% as a secondary root color and tint it down to meet the original red. If that makes sense
    – Homefly
    Commented Dec 25, 2020 at 2:05

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