I have an .ai file that I need to use multiple times in another .ai file.

I linked the file and then duplicated it 4 times. The original .ai file is just one color (black), but I need each one of the duplicates to have a different color. For some reason, AI is treating the linked file as a raster image and I can't use "Recolor artwork".

Is there a way to recolor a linked .ai file? Or is there another way to link it without making 4 copies of the original file?

  • 2
    Hi franga2000, welcome to GD.SE. Why don't you use InDesign for this, it's exactly what it's made for.
    – Vincent
    Jun 26, 2015 at 11:56
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    Just wanted to say thanks for the InDesign suggestion. I looks like I can recolor a placed AI file with it while Illustrator itself could not. It is odd though because A) I have to use the "Inner Glow" effect to do it and B) Illustrator has the same effect but doesn't behave the same. Dec 12, 2016 at 11:13

2 Answers 2


If you use the Links Panel and embed the image, it will be expanded and treated as if you copy/pasted the file rather than placed it.

This would allow you to recolor each iteration.

This will also make the art part of the actual file, so the file size savings via the linking will be gone. You can't recolor a linked file directly (other than perhaps adding a new fill in the Appearance Panel to cover things) unless you recolor the original.


This will work for simple b&W logos, but does create a more complex file structure. Create a rectangle with the colour you'd like the logo to be, add transparency mask, paste linked logo file into mask, invert mask. There seem to be some refresh issues with this, when file is updated, you may need to turn layer on/off to see the change.

Note the top object rectangle could be more complex if you want to recolour certain parts.

You could place the original linked file underneath this masked version if it's coloured one and use opacity filters to alter colours. But you are creating quite a complex file, so maybe best to flatten if going to print.

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