I have a group of objects of the same colour, consisting of compound paths, regular paths and groups of these. How to change the colour of all objects at once? When I tried to use colour picker or change it through color palette the colour remained the same but the graphics was rendered with a very tiny outline of the new colour, which I guess is not printable. Usually I had to change the colour of all objects individually.

I'm sorry if I was not too precise. I mean to apply new colour / swatch to all member objects of the group at once, not to change properties of a commonly shared swatch.

Edit 2:
I received very useful answers, however my goal was to pick a colour from another object, serving as a source. When I tried to select all objects, for example with ctrl-a, and then use a eyedropper to pick up a desired colour, it didn't work for some objects in some groups. Please have a look at my answer where several methods are listed.

4 Answers 4


Use Live Color (Recolor Artwork) if you have Illustrator CS4 or newer.

Select all the objects, then choose Edit > Edit Color > Recolor Artwork.

With the Assign Tab highlighted, select 1 under the color menu at the top center of the window.

Double-click the little color box on the right and set a new color.

Click OK.

recolor artwork

  • Thank you very much @Scott. Very powerful technique. It seems that if you want to apply the same colour as another object you can include it in the objects "pool" and drag it's colour swatch into the New color box. This way could be a little bit tricky if there are many similar colours in the pool. I'm not sure how to guarantee that the new colour I want to apply is the same as of my source (if I don't want to input the colour values)... PS. I don't have enough reputation yet to upvote answers.
    – ellockie
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 10:59
  • When you double-click the new color box, you can then click the "Color Swatches" button and pick any swatch in the document.
    – Scott
    Commented May 16, 2012 at 12:31
  • Thank you for that @Scott. I guess to use another object's colour I would have to add its colour to swatch library first.
    – ellockie
    Commented May 17, 2012 at 11:56

The problem of not being able to colour all objects after 'traditional' 'select all' operation appears when the group has it's own appearance attribute (in appearance panel). It is because a group had applied a fill attribute to it, which was receiving all colour changes when whole group was selected, and this fill attribute was placed in Appearance pane BELOW the group contents. You can see in in the example below:

enter image description here

There are several ways of colouring all the objects at once:

  1. [Also suggested by @Lollero in the comment to his answer] Use the Direct Selection Tool (the white arrow) to select all the member objects and change the colour. If there is something below your group, double click it to enter the Isolation Mode and then do the selection. Works for groups with fill attribute above contents only if all objects are selected,
  2. Using appearance attributes. In case of my group I could see the fill colour in the Appearance Panel and I could change the fill colour, but it didn't change the colour of the sub-objects. I realised that there were three "layers/attributes" in this panel in the following order: 1. Stroke, 2. Contents, 3. Fill. What did help was to move Fill attribute above contents "layer/attribute". The other object I didn't have problems with didn't have those Stroke and Fill attributes (what was reflected in an empty circle next to it's name in Layers panel. My 'troublemaker' had this circle filled).
  3. Avoiding appearance attributes. What also helped was to remove the abovementioned appearance atrributes by pressing Clear Appearance button at the bottom of Appearance Panel, and then pick a colour from the source object while holding Shift key, or apply new colour or swatch directly. Picking colour with Eyedropper without holding shift will add appearance attributes to the group and move the Fill below contents.
  4. There is also @Scott's mentioned powerful technique of using "Recolor Artwork" function. Please see Scott's answer.
  1. Go to the Swatches window ( Top menu: Window > Swatches ). Add a new swatch color and make sure that you have "Global" checked.
  2. Then apply that swatch to multiple objects by selecting them and clicking the swatch.
  3. Later if you want to change that color, go to the Swatches window again and change that swatch color through the swatch options ( Double clicking the swatch will get you there. ). After changing the color, it will change in all the objects that you have applied it to.

When you select an object, the swatch that is used in it will get selected in the swatches window, that's how you know which one to fiddle with.

Here's a tutorial on this:


Other tips:

  • Direct selection tool can go inside groups to select individual objects. Doesn't work in all cases.

  • If you put objects into a layer, you can select all of those layers by clicking the circle on the right side of a layer. It doesn't care if they are in a group or not, they will get selected.

  • Thank you very much @Lollero. I learned quite a very useful technique. However my problem was slightly different: I couldn't apply a swatch to all sub-objects at once.
    – ellockie
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 11:55
  • @ellockie Right. The way I see it this does answer your question, just kind of not on this timeline. You see, when you're making objects, you should do it this way, then you can change color to all objects at once by using this method (even those sub-objects). But later on if you haven't added colors by assigning a swatch, you will need to add that swatch to all of those objects separately of course. (This means separately going to isolation mode unless you are able to use Direct selection tool to select even those within a group).
    – Joonas
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 13:01
  • Another tip would be to use layers and the layers window so you can select all the object in that layer by clicking the Circle icon on the right side of a layer.
    – Joonas
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 13:03
  • Thanks again @Lollero. I'm sorry if my question was too confusing. I found already that the Direct Selection Tool mentioned by you is one of the ways (if you be so kind to update your answer I will accept it). I found the source of the problem and will post it in few hours (when I'm allowed). The "circle in the layer" technique didn't work in case of my object. It is a very good advice to use global swatches right from the beginning.
    – ellockie
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 14:30

Use the "Magic Wand Tool".

Then, click on a object and now you can change at once all seleceted objects in that color you have selected.

After than you should create a swatch - it's easier to change the color later again.

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