When I apply a color with the exact same RGB as the fill for 1 shape and the stroke of another, the shape with the stroke shows a slightly lighter color. Why does this happen and what can I do to correct it?

screenshot of the problem
Click image for full resolution

  • Is this in the same document? are there any other Appearance attributes applied? Effects?
    – Scott
    Aug 27, 2013 at 10:34
  • No effects. Opacity at normal for both shapes
    – RunLoop
    Aug 27, 2013 at 11:15
  • 1
    There's no common reason why this should happen... people might be able to help if you post a screenshot of the appearance window with each shape selected. Aug 27, 2013 at 11:27
  • What happens if both shapes are on the artboard? Do they match then?
    – Scott
    Aug 27, 2013 at 12:28
  • 1
    Those two circles appear to be the same color. I cliped just the red part of the circle on the right - blew it up a bit and overlayed it on the circle on the left... I think the blue outline is creating an optical illusion.
    – Don Nickel
    Aug 27, 2013 at 13:13

6 Answers 6


There's a good chance that the effect is caused by your custom stroke. If the stroke shape isn't completely black (because, for example, it was made using CMYK black insted of RGB black), it will show as a slightly lighter variant of your chosen stroke colour.

To solve your problem: expand the shape (Object > Expand; or Object > Expand Appearance...) and give it the correct colour as a fill colour.

  • 2
    I'd bet the brush artwork isn't correct (or not 100%k). Adjusting the brush artwork would fix it rather than expanding.
    – Scott
    Aug 13, 2014 at 18:49

A more desirable approach than expanding the shape is to edit the brush colorization method. If you change it from just "tints" to "tints and shades" it will ignore the shade of CMYK black used in the original brush. Be sure to click "apply to strokes" when it asks you as you exit the window in order to make the change retroactive.

Change colorization method here.

Be sure to click "apply to strokes."


Select the stroked object with your Selection Tool.

Select Object from the top menu and then select Expand Appearance

Select Pathfinder then Select Unite.

  • This was the only thing that worked for me, I'll get rid of that -1 for you.
    – brandito
    Sep 12, 2018 at 6:49

I had the same problem. I think I've found two possible solutions. Since nothing I did would change the color to make it 100% black, I tried these:

  • cmd-c, and 3-4 times cmd-f (This is the lazy solution, but it kind of triple/quadruples the lines.)

  • Drag the brush onto the artboard. Overlap a black rectangle and do a pathfinder (make sure to delete the parts not needed, it might be tedious depending on the brush), apply black 100% and this time around the shape is 100% black. Then all you need to do is drag the brush back into the brush window and make sure the settings are like the original. Then you apply the new brush.


My wife figured this out. You can keep your live brush stroke and have it the same color.

The Problem is that brush strokes are not made from 100% black.

You are going to pick a brush you like and edit it and make a new custom one from it. Here's what to do.

Open your brush panel, or library or whatever and pick the brush stroke you want. Now (this is a little weird) drag it onto your art board. (You know, the page, the Illustrator illustration you are working on. There it is, on your art board! It's just like a piece of art.

Now select it and go to Object > Expand.

You'll notice although it looks black, in your color panel it has no color. Like a ghost. Make it Black. Really Black. 100% C 100% M 100% Y 100% K. 100% RGB. black, Black, BLACK, BLACK!

Whoah! It turned into a black rectangle! Yes, because it was in a clipping path. Just use your direct selection tool to delete the rectangular clipping path. Good.

Double, triple and quadruple check in your color panel that it is BLACK. Black the heck out of that thing.

Almost final step, drag it into your brush panel and name it.

Finally, make sure in your Brush Panel, go to Brush Option, and under Colorization, Method, select Tint.

  1. Pick a brush you like and drag it onto your art board.
  2. Select it and go Object > Expand
  3. Apply Black to it. Make sure it is 100% CMYK.
  4. Delete the rectangular clipping path around it.
  5. Drag it back into your brush panel and name it.
  6. Brush Panel, Brush Options, Colorization, Method, Tint.


Your friend - gj.


Go to- File-Switch Document Color Mode.

  • 3
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