In Illustrator I want to give a whole layer of objects a common tint. But I do not want to also color any transparent background. Also, I want to be able to continue drawing on the tinted layer with all subsequent objects become tinted as well.

In Photoshop, I'd just place a single color layer above the artwork layer, set it's blending mode to darken or multiply and opacity to some fitting value. I just cannot figure out how to do something equally trivial in illustrator.

Anybody has an idea?

  • Sometimes blend effect surprises in Illustrator can be resolved by putting a white shape under everything, so that it's (top to bottom) shape with colour/lightening blend mode, then images, then solid white. May 17, 2012 at 16:58

3 Answers 3


You could use the Appearance panel to add a new fill above everything. Set that fill the tint color and mode to Multiply and reduce opacity.

Then drag the object to the Graphic Styles Panel to create a style. Just apply the style to any new objects and change the base fill/stroke color.

enter image description here

  • That is a possibility... if the tint color is set to some global color one could even play with this value (which is important, because if I knew exactly which colors I wanted in advance, I would not need that at all). It would probably be a drag to change blending mode and opacity. I'll try that out...
    – Jan
    May 15, 2012 at 2:52
  • 1
    If you set it as a style, you can simply edit the graphic style to update all objects. And if you UNcheck "New Art Has Basic Appearance" in the Appearance Panel menu, the style would apply to all newly drawn objects.
    – Scott
    May 15, 2012 at 2:54
  • Just tried it out - works like a charm! Thanks a lot!!
    – Jan
    May 15, 2012 at 2:57
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    I applied the appearance to the group an not the individual objects, so I can manage all of it in one place. :D
    – Jan
    May 15, 2012 at 2:59

A more ideal solution would be to target the layer (click the circle to the right of the layer name in Layers panel), and then add a new Fill in the Appearance panel and choose the color and blending mode you desire. Then create your objects and choose "none" for the fill and stroke (for the objects themselves). All of the objects on that layer will have that Appearance applied. If you need to edit the fill, just click the (now solid gray) circle once again and edit the Appearance of the fill with the layer targeted.

  • 1
    The only problem with applying appearances on the layer level is there's a bug in a couple versions of Illustrator which will not allow you to entirely remove the layer-level appearance in some cases. I agree that applying at the layer level would be easier, but due to the bug I didn't suggest it directly.
    – Scott
    May 17, 2012 at 16:25
  • @Scott do you know which versions are effected? Do you mean main versions (like CS4 etc) or sub versions (like 14.1.2 etc)? May 17, 2012 at 17:00
  • Both. I know CS5 (v15.0 through 15.1) and CS6 (v16.0) are effected by this. If you select the layer... add an appearance you get the "meatball" at the right of the layer name in the Layers Panel indicating there is an Appearance setting. If you then delete the appearance, the "meatball" remains. It doesn't really cause issues upon output. But can be horribly confusing from a reference point.
    – Scott
    May 17, 2012 at 18:26
  • Was not aware of that, thanks for the heads up.
    – George C
    May 18, 2012 at 17:47

The first answer is a good one. There is another, though, with more powerful replacement options. Adobe Illustrator CS6 has a new button to "Recolor Artwork", located in the top info panel.

(Choose the "Essentials Workspace" under the Window menu to reveal this info panel if it's not showing.)

To use "Recolor Artwork", select your grouped objects, then click the Recolor button. (It looks like a circle with lens shutter "wedges".) The dialog then shows all the colors in your selected group, along with various color pickers and tools to change those colors, and save presets.

If you have 2 colors, and you want to shift them to new tint/hue, then in the EDIT tab, you would "link" the harmony bars together so that each color is shifted together as you reposition the colors around on a color wheel.

It's been very handy! Confusing, but handy, heh.

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