I have a drawing with hundreds of shapes like in the attached AI file: Objects with detached dots in it.

preview for the AI file

I used live trace to vectorize it. Now I need to colour all objects, specifically the background of the round shape in one color and each dot within in different colours. Right now when I choose the inner space colour it will cover the dots. I then guess the dots' position, give them a new colour and they show up again. When I change the inner space colour again they disappear once more. Putting the inner fill in the background doesn't seem to help.

There surely must be a better way to handle this? Bear in mind that I have literally hundreds of these shapes so any solution with the least clicking will pay off greatly.

Thank you very much!

  • Hi Marvin, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question. Could you please post an example pic in your post to clarify? If readers don't have to open Ai to see your file, you might get good answers quicker. Thanks! If you want to know more about the site, please see the help center or ping one of us in chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 11:19

2 Answers 2


(I did not download your file)

Chances are you've merely got some compound shapes and thus they are "connected" so when coloring, you color them all. Compound shapes are common when auto-tracing.

An easy cure is to select all and click the Merge button on the Pathfinder Panel (the panel, not the menu item). Then choose Object > Ungroup.

In most scenarios this will release the compound shapes and give you individual objects.

This does somewhat depend upon which dots you are trying to fill though. If you've got a field of black and a white dot in it, that white dot will be a "hole" not a filled objects. So coloring dots like this requires you to either copy and paste the dot again or simply add a colored object behind the black object.

  • Thanks for helping, Scott! I couldn't find the panel you mentioned and I didn't have internet access to google my way there. But when hunting for your suggested route I stumbled over the solution I posted above. Again, thanks for your time!
    – Marvin
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 13:28
  • @Marvin You can find the Pathfinder panel in Window > Pathfinder.
    – Vincent
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 13:31
  • Thanks, now I got there. Unfortunately (at least in my case) it doesn't work (merge just gives me "The filter produced no results"; and "ungroup" is grey). Anyway, as I managed to solve my issue I'm happy. In any case, thanks for your input.
    – Marvin
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 9:21

While looking around I ended up with the following solution: Use Object > Live paint > Expand. Thanks to everyone for their time!

  • Great to hear that! Don't forget to choose your own answer as the correct one!
    – Yisela
    Commented Dec 5, 2014 at 13:39

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