I have a bitmap image in Illustrator (Effects > Rasterize > "Color Model: Bitmap", resulting in a black and white image). Alternatively, I have a brush or pattern, whose original I don't want to edit.


I want to change the appearance of the bitmap image (or pattern) by replacing the black with a color.

My Method

Create a fill in the desired color, make a mask, and move the black-and-white object to the mask layer.

This method works fine, and gives the desired appearance, but is a pain because it means the objects I actually want to work with are tucked away on masks that hard to access.

Is there a better way to colorize objects whose fill you don't have access to?


I begin with a photograph (Image 1), which I have dithered with Effects > Rasterize > "Color Model: Bitmap", resulting in Image 2.

How can I color Image 2 to get Image 3?

enter image description here

  • Kind of need some visual reference. Offhand, no you can't alter the color of Bitmap Rasterization. That sort of defeats the Bitmap format. But you can colorize pattern fills.. which is really all the Bitmap filter is creating.
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 1:18
  • Hi. Welcome to GDSE. Why are you rasterizing an object if you want to change its fill? That seems like a really weird thing to do.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 1:31
  • @BillyKerr point well taken, I was being lazy with terms because I'd used Illustrator's Rasterize... tool to get the bitmap image. Hopefully the edits and images help clarify what I mean. My real goal is to have bitmap in a different color than black
    – Unrelated
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 19:35
  • @Scott My wording was lazy, but see edits/comment to Billy: forget rasterize, I'm just trying to get bitmap in a different color. How can I colorize pattern fills? Or can I only do so by editing the underlying pattern?
    – Unrelated
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


I know you mention this in the question. Detailed here for others.

I do not think there's a more efficient method. Really, I don't understand what more you'd be doing with the BMP image. What more could you do that does not work with an opacity mask applied? If the color shape matches the mask boundaries, editing would be essentially seamless.

AI simply only goes so far with raster images.

You can do this with a standard shape, filled with the color you want, then the BMP raster image as an Opacity Mask on that shape.

enter image description here

  • Red filled rectangle.
  • AI's Bitmap rasterization applied to png
  • Copy/pasted BMP to the Opacity Mask for the color rectangle
  • Tick the Invert option for the mask

Click the artwork thumbnail and change the fill color if you want a different color.

enter image description here

Same basic answer to this question (which has a bit more detail.)

If you group the masked shape, you can even apply a second Opacity Mask (to the group) if necessary....

enter image description here

  • Oh my, I was just about to post the exact same answer. +1 for beating me to it!
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 19:53
  • @BillyKerr It's mentioned in the question.. so chances are this isn't anything Unrelated isn't already aware of. :) But I, know of no other method. I'd be curious if there is one, perhaps in a more bleeding edge version of AI than I prefer to use. :)
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 19:55
  • I think it would be exactly the same in AI CC. Illustrator still has extremely limited bitmap editing, maybe better done in Photoshop ultimately.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 20:00
  • Thanks for the confirmation. I was hoping there might be a simple setting in Appearances, kind of like an extra fill, that recolors the object and doesn't require entering the mask to edit the bmp object. Even if that were possible, though, it prob would still be impossible to do a gradient like this :(
    – Unrelated
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 20:40
  • @Unrelated what type of gradient? You can apply the bitmap mask to a gradient mesh... or any group of objects.... so.... ?
    – Scott
    Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 20:47

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