It is practically impossible to edit a white illustration on the default white artboard background.

Hiding the artboard makes the whole work area receive the artboard's white color.

So, is there a way to change the color of the artboard in Illustrator CC?

  • 1
    I would also like to know if there's a way to do this. In the meantime what I do is make a rectangle or square shape that covers the artboard's dimensions, fill with the colour I want for background and lock it so I can work over it.
    – Alis Klar
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 12:31
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    Related: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/18166/…
    – Scott
    Commented May 11, 2014 at 19:41
  • Change your Grid preferences to have black gridlines every 1 pixel. It's not perfect but it works. Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 5:43

7 Answers 7


The easiest way to see white artwork in Illustrator is by opening the View Menu and selecting Show Transparency Grid. This gives your white artwork something to contrast with. You can adjust the color of the grid by going to 'File → Document Setup'.

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    This is it! After about two years, this is the one answer that seems to actually work. For anybody reading, note that you can set the both grid colors, so picking, for example, grey and grey checkers will give you a solid grey background when turning transparency grid on. Bravo!
    – kontur
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 12:09
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    This works great, but just for the record - it's total C R A P that Adobe doesn't give us an explicit way to do this - that doesn't involve changing these types or settings or an extra layer. It would probably take them 15 minutes to program this option. Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 22:43

You can "tweak" the artboard color by this way:

Select File->Document Setup...

On the popup window you will have Transparency sub-menu:

enter image description here

Choose the upper color (I set it to rose) and Mark "Simulate Colored Paper" -

You will get this image -

enter image description here

There is no any other layers except of text ones...

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    Unfortunately, that doesn't help with this question, which is how to make white visible. White text will disappear against the artboard, regardless of its color. Commented May 11, 2014 at 20:28
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    No, Alan, the question is "Is there a way to change the color of the artboard in Illustrator CC?" It's in bold. You can read it for yourself. White is used as an example. And White is not white. There's CMYK white (absence of ink) and HSB and RGB White (Additive Blended Light becomes white). In the case of HSB and RGB, they'll be clearly visible on a coloured artBoard. But Adobe doesn't provide this because they're... lazy?
    – Confused
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 9:07
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    Thanks for the answer. This is pretty nifty otherwise, but as mentioned I have a problem editing white vectors, so this approach does not remedy that.
    – kontur
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 11:16
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    This may have been obvious to others, but the help I needed was both the above, and the information to go to "View->Turn On Transparency Grid" -- then, you can darken the transparency grid with the above and white becomes evident enough to work with. Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 17:38
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    Personally, when working with white objects and transparency I'll use the transparency grid rather than simulating colored paper (maybe add a bit about how to enable the transparency grid?). Good answer.
    – justin
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:27

There's no simple way that I know of.

You can, however, create a rectangle of the same dimensions as the artboard, change its colour to one that works better, move it to the back (Command/Control+Shift+[) - or even to a lower layer and make the layer a template layer, so that it isn't included in the export.

It's not a perfect solution, I know, but it works for me.

  • Surprisingly, "Arrange > Send to Back" didn't work for me. I needed to go to "Window > Layers" and then drag a layer down manually.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 3:09
  • This worked fine--except for a bug in Illustrator where template layers still export for PNG files! Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 11:57

The short answer is no, you can't, but there is a reason for that which becomes apparent the moment you look at a CMYK "white" swatch. It's 0% everything: no ink.

White, to Illustrator, is not a color or a mixture of colors, it is an absence of ink. Even if you're working with an RGB document, that's still the way Illustrator thinks about color: white = absence.

When setting a layout to be printed with white pigment, such as for screen printing on clothing, or product labels that are printed directly onto glass or plastic, the artwork is usually submitted as black or a faux spot color with instructions to print using white. It's similar to the way that spot varnish is specified on a layout. The important thing is that it will separate on its own plate, not what color it appears to be on the screen.

That's why ilan's solution won't work for you. If you simulate colored paper, then anything white will still disappear, because that's how Illustrator shows you that the paper will show through -- there's no pigment.

Your two solutions are to put a colored rectangle on a non-printing layer beneath your artwork, or temporarily change all your white fills or strokes to something visible for editing purposes, then change it back when you're ready to save.

  • 3
    The parts here about color handling aren't quite correct. Illustrator isn't a print-specific product and will define and treat white as a color (see the behavior during an export to .png). The mapping of white to "paper color" is typically handled in pre-press (via InDesign or similar). The CMYK white swatch is 0%, yes, but that is only because of how the CMYK colorspace works.
    – justin
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:04
  • To add to Alan's answer, if you also set the non-printing background layer to "Template" then if you "Save for Web" it won't include it in the export.
    – Dan
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 12:39
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    Yes but Illustrator isn't only used for printing. You can use it also to create assets for animations or graphics for a computer game.
    – user80252
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 21:14

I think the best solution to work with white artwork/artwork that doesn't contrast well is to create a separate layer and add a fill.

Then double-click the layer in the Layers Panel and uncheck the "Print" checkbox. This allows you to edit the artwork whenever you need and that layer will NEVER print.

You can place it in another document in any Adobe software and it will not show layers with print unchecked.

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    This was enlightening, but when creating SVG for web use, the 'print' option doesn't leave out that part of the SVG in the code. Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 19:40
  • Sorry this is 6 years later! I'm sure there are use cases where it doesn't behave properly such as SVG. I've had issues with SVGs slightly modifying my perfect shapes, so I usually try to keep an AI version that I save to SVG rather than rely on being able to edit SVGs in Illustrator. Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 16:27

Just create a box the size you need in pixels the color you want in Illustrator and put it behind your logo and save that and you should get what you need.

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    Which makes object selection hell..
    – geotheory
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 14:51
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    Throw it on the bottom layer and lock it up? Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 23:19

Step-1": First create your art-board and set the height width and resolution according to your requirements.

Step-2 then go to FIle > then Click Document setup

enter image description here


Check the button Simulate Colored Paper

enter image description here

and then click on the color from the color chart ( basic color section or color table section) to choose your desired art background color

enter image description here

Then hit ok Then again ok

Here you go enter image description here

  • 1
    If anyone stumbles upon this, like I did, and wonders where the color selector is: It is the topmost one in the transparency section (adjacent to "grid size"). I found that to be far from intuitive.
    – AVLien
    Commented Jul 8, 2019 at 19:50
  • For me, this only seems to work if not using "View > Show Transparency Grid".
    – Ryan
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 22:25
  • 1
    That's a great technique! I love learning new things. Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 16:32

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