I can hobble my way around Illustrator, but I'm far from a pro, so please bear with me here.

For most of my work in Illustrator, I use basic shapes. I draw a rectangle; move around the anchors; subtract a circle from the middle; etc. When I'm done, I've got a drawing made up of lots of individual shapes (objects) that compose a picture.

I've recently been given an illustration that the artist did with Live Paint. I've never used that feature myself, but it reminds me of virtual stained glass. The outline of all the shapes is one big piece, then the colors were filled in one by one. The problem is that I can't seem to manipulate parts of the illustration like I can with individual objects.

Is there a way I can break up that Live Paint mess in to a group of standard objects?

  • I know this is an old question, but what is the "virtual stained glass" you mentioned? I'm looking to design stained glass pieces, but Illustrator has been somewhat limiting. Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 18:24

3 Answers 3


You can use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to manipulate the original objects that went into the Live Paint object. Also, Object > Expand... from the menubar will break the Live Paint object up into component shapes, as if the object were 'flattened', which you can then manipulate. They'll probably be within a couple nested groups, so you'll have to Ungroup a few times or use the Direct Selection Tool to get at them.

  • Object Expand! That was the trick I was looking for -- thank you!
    – Axeva
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 18:25

Click the Expand button on the control bar.

enter image description here


You can also go into layers panel Window > Layers.

There you are able to move and keep desired objects spearate from the Live Paint Group.

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