How can I color picker for the gradient tool to sample a color? It seems the color picker does not work like photoshop does where you can pick a color from the existing canvas, but have to know either the exact hex ect? Example here, is I am trying to pick a color for the gradient tool, the picker does not show up when I hover my cursor over the canvas so I cannot select a color. Is there any way to sample outside the color picker tool?

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  • Thanks saved me a lot of time SOOOO frustrating not being able to colour pick ANYTHING like in Photoshop
    – user25909
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 0:10
  • If the colour must be on a swatch before you can use it then why can't illustrator pop it on a swatch on-the-fly for you while you are working? I don't want to have to stop all my shape formations to use the eye dropper tool independantly, it's stupid and I'm finding Illustrator fiddly all over compared to PShop.
    – user30621
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 14:20

5 Answers 5


If I understand properly, you wanted to use the color picker for color stops of Gradient Tool.

I place here a solution because it looks very useful and not straightforward considering many questions in Google (and my 10 minutes self-updating research).

The workflow is:

  1. Open Gradient tool panel

    Window –> Gradient

    or press Command/Control+F9, if you're on MacBook Pro etc you should use Fn+Command/Control+F9

  2. Select the object with applied gradient

  3. Click once on the color stop you want to change

    enter image description here

  4. Click on the Eyedropper tool or press I

  5. Press Shift+Click on the color of one of the objects you want to apply to the color stop.

You're done.

  • That's so shady!! lol. It works.. It's just the "Shift" part that's confusing really. Who would have thought.
    – A. Vieira
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 14:45
  • 2
    The SHIFT click!!!!!!!! This tip is why StackExch exists.
    – SWL
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 17:21
  • A tip, Eyedropper can choose colors from outside the Illustrator window if you click & drag out the eyedropper from the artboard to the target color. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 21:46

If you must, you can use the eye-dropper tool to load a color in the color well.

It's better to get in the habit of using swatches. Then you know you have right values throughout. For gradients you simply drag a swatch onto the swatch tab on the gradient slider.

Illustrator has a big leg up on Photoshop with global colors. If you check this option, you can change the color throughout your document by simply editing the swatch.

  • Interesting, it looks like I can use the eye dropper to load in the color well and then drag and drop to a swatch which then I can select from the gradient. Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 18:32

The color picker in Illustrator has a vastly different function than the color picker in Photoshop. It ultimately comes down to the differences in what you're doing. In Illustrator your basic primitive is a drawing object, in Photoshop it's a pixel. If you develop pixels it's natural to be able to pick up pixel properties which are naturally limited to one color and maybe alpha. If you develop objects it's not so clear.

You could take the stance that you in fact want to pick object properties, this is what both Illustrator and InDesign assume. But in reality you'd want to be able to pick both object color, visible pixel color and anything in between. But the short reason why you can not do this is that Illustrator does not really have a color picker at all, it has an appearance picker, but since this is the closest equivalent it's called the same. But since it's not exactly a congruent idea it's not behaving similarly in all cases. For example you can use Illustrators color picker to pick a gradient since an object's color might be a gradient or a texture. Therefore it can't be used as such to pick just a color.

This is to say that there's no reason why the gradient context couldn't pick colors but then the dialog is not modal, and a new picker code would need to be devised just for this context. So if you're willing to sacrifice functionality for design fragmentation and upkeep cost fine... But Adobe hasn't really wanted to do this.

Don't expect two different things to be the same.


I was wondering the same thing, which is why I landed here. Then I noticed that the color # is highlighted in the box, so I tried copy/paste and found that it works. Copy color # in the picker from one object, then choose the desired object and double-click its fill-color box and then paste the # into the blue-highlighted color # box.

  • 1
    Hi sam suppa and welcome to the site. This doesn't work for what the question is asking. You have to make the color a swatch before you can pick that color when making a gradient. You are just copying the color for solid objects only.
    – AndrewH
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 19:25

This is a simple way to get a color from a sample object/image in just a few steps.

  1. Select the object in which you want to put the gradient.
  2. Set a gradient by default as you set before.
  3. Select the point of the gradient slider which you need to set the color.
  4. Click on the Eyedropper tool or Press I.
  5. Final step, just press the Shift key and Right Click using the mouse.
  • No need to right click, a Shift+left-click works fine.
    – user53083
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 3:23

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