I have a rectangle with a grid pattern as fill:


Now I want the white part to be transparent so I can add a background image to it. I didn't find a way to do it. I know if you are in Photoshop you can use the quick selection tool but I am in Illustrator. So how do you do it in Illustrator? Thanks

  • You would probably have to edit the pattern fill itself to have no background
    – Alex
    May 6, 2016 at 4:10

3 Answers 3


Ok, try this.

  1. Select your rectangle.
  2. Go Object > Expand Appearance.
  3. Now select one background 'tile' from the rectangle's background and go Select > Same > Fill & Stroke to select all of the background tiles.
  4. Hit Delete.

Alternatively, use one of Illustrator's built-in grid pattern swatches, which have no background colour. In the Swatches panel, click the drop-down and go Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics and you'll find a whole heap of grids. Or, create your own pattern tile and convert that into a pattern swatch (simply make something, group it and drag it into the Swatches panel).

  1. Drag your pattern out of the swatch panel
  2. Make white invisible (for some patterns this means you may need to make a new bounding box.)
  3. Drag the pattern back to the swatch panel.
    • Either alt drag and overwrite the old pattern.
    • Or make a new pattern and reapply.

enter image description here

Image 1: Timelapse of the process

Some closing thoughts. I wouldn't use a pattern for a grid there are several reasons for this but simply put it's not very efficient. In any case it should take no time to recreate the pattern form scratch.


Please do the following Step:

  1. Select the rectangle
  2. Go to Object > Rasterize
  3. Set Background to Transparent (see below) enter image description here
  4. Keep the rectangle selected and go Image Trace > Line Art enter image description here
  5. You are done :)
  • 1
    This is a extremely bad workflow. This is also a bad advice because it kind of works, albeit badly, making somebody a actually use it.
    – joojaa
    May 6, 2016 at 5:47
  • Then why you are not give the solution? prove it. May 6, 2016 at 6:31
  • Dear god, drag the pattern form you swatch panel to your document. make the white parts invisible and drag it back to the swatch panel. Done, and you have saved a ton of time and effort, and memory and hard disk and your pattern is now clean.
    – joojaa
    May 6, 2016 at 6:37
  • not working it for me May 6, 2016 at 6:41

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