I have 2 different objects in Illustrator CS6. They are both their own layer. They both consist of several paths which are filled with a gradient made to resemble gold.

My problem is that of one the object's colors suddenly seemed washed out. I don't remember what I did exactly. For example, a black stroke seems dark gray, almost as if it was transparent, and a gold gradient fill also seems like if all the colors that make up the gradient were a lighter shade.

I double checked and yes, the colors are identical in both objects, and the document color setting is CMKY. Also, the opacity levels are identical in both (100%). Is there any setting that would cause this? It almost looks as if when you get an object in isolation mode, the rest of the non-isolated objects become a bit washed out and transparent, but not to that point, a little bit less. In other words, the object with washed out colors looks like the other objects that are not in isolation mode, but nothing is in isolation mode! I hope this makes sense.

Any ideas?

  • Does the Appearance Panel give any clues as to why they are different?
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 8:53
  • How are the object created? What version of Illustrator? Spot colors?
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 17:07
  • Thanks for providing the version... how are objects created? Spot colors? Did you copy/paste something from an old file? Is this an old file created in a legacy version of Illustrator you are adding to in CS6?
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 21:51
  • @Scott The Appearance panel just says opacity: default. If by spot colors you mean Pantone, then no. And this file was created from the ground up in this version of Illustrator. No transferring or anyting. But I think I may have figured it out. It appears it's the target circle on the layers panel. It's always the basic stuff that gets me. What exactly is that for anyway?
    – Carlo71
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 0:26
  • The circle on the layers Panel indicates if there's an appearance applied - full = appearance (like opacity), hollow = no appearance.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 0:34

2 Answers 2


I have had this problem before---check out the color mode of the document. For reasons someone else can explain better, you can switch Illustrator files between RGB and CMYK, but because the two color spaces aren't perfectly equivalent the system has to approximate colors in making the transformation.

You've probably already tried this, but also take a look at the "Swatch Options," which may be different in the two files.

  • thanks for the answer but that wasn't it. It was the target circle on the layers panel. It somehow washes out the colors of the layer/sublayer it's at.
    – Carlo71
    Commented Apr 12, 2014 at 0:27

Window>Appearance. Remove any unwanted attributes. For one of mine I had extrude and 3D bevel on it. Once I deleted those layers from the Appearance panel of the selected objects the colors were identical.

  • 1
    Also the gray circle in a previous comment indicates that there is additional appearance objects turned on for that layer. The circles will change to hollow when you remove those layers in the appearance window.
    – Zac
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 3:57

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