I auto traced an image and am trying to change the color of all the black lines and sections to brown, but some of the lines I can't change with the Paint Bucket tool (because it fills in a large section of white instead). Is there a way I can change these lines' color? If not, what should I do differently when applying Live Trace so that such lines don't exist?

auto traced image I'm trying to color

  • 1
    I ran into this same problem and fixed it with the edit colors option. I believe it was because I was saving the original scan in Photoshop as a bitmap. The bitmap is a black and white image and had to be converted back to CMYK. Commented May 17, 2018 at 17:09

5 Answers 5


Select the art and click the Expand button on the Control bar.

enter image description here

  • It's worth noting that my existing object, which I colored most of (i.e. in my screenshot), didn't offer me the Expand button -- maybe because I somehow left Live Trace mode(?) (re-applying Live Trace didn't help). However, when starting over with my object (e.g. Place -> Live Trace -> click Expand button -> Paint Bucket), this works perfect. Thanks for the help! Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 14:55

The best way to handle auto traced images in Illustrator is to expand them and then color the images.

I typically do the following:

  • Select the entire image: Choose Objects > Expand to break the image into individual pieces.
  • Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the white chunks, delete the white
  • Group the remaining bits (all the colored parts)
  • Change the fill color for the entire image at once.

The main key is to choose "Expand" and then selecting the image by using the Direct Selection Tool (A).

You're image may also be in greyscale so change the Color options (the down arrow with the menu bars) choose CMYK or RGB.

Color options changed from Grayscale to CMYK


Nothing mentioned here worked. I had to select the traced object and do Edit -> Edit Colors -> Convert to CMYK

After that I got rid of the greyscale color limitation and could choose CMYK-colors.

  • 3
    Welcome to Graphic Design SE. Can you please edit your answer to explain why it works?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Sep 17, 2017 at 13:03

I like the expand method described a couple of times above. But if you still want to tweak colors further after you already finished your live trace you can still easily recolor either a single section of color or all like-colored sections.

1) To pick a specific section to recolor. Just click a specific section with the direct select tool then change the color to one of your liking via the color palette tool/window.

2) To recolor all "like-colored" sections (all sections that resulted with the same live trace color) just switch to the Direct Select Tool and pick one of those areas with the color you want to change. Then go to "Select" in the menu > "Same" > " Fill Color". Now just change the color in the color palette tool or window and you're set.

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