I use the Image Trace function on Adobe Illustrator all the time, and usually it works fine, but I just encountered an annoying issue I'm unable to solve.

What I usually do when tracing images is I place the photo/image on the Artboard and bring up the Image Trace window to tweak the parameters until I'm satisfied with the result and then proceed to trace and expand the image. After that I Select (V) the resulting image and change it's colour. Works every time. Except now.

For reasons unknown, after starting to work on a project today, I noticed that with each traced and expanded image, the fill of the selection has a question mark on it, indicating that two or more objects have different fills in them. If I change the colour of the fill, the entire selection goes gray. I have to use Direct Selection (A) + Shift to select each part of the image separately in order to change the colour which is difficult and slow and doesn't even work properly every time. And even then, upon changing colour it still turns gray, and I have to manually change the Color Palette back to CMYK each time.

It's driving me insane. I haven't seen this problem before and I've tried to create a new project and restart Illustrator but nothing works.

  • Can you share the image what are you trying to trace
    – atek
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 6:11
  • This is the general problem with technology. It does what it does, once you step even slightly out of scope your suddenly faced with a huge problem.
    – joojaa
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 8:11
  • @atek The issue is present regardless of which image I'm using. joojaa Tell me about it.
    – mntblnk
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


Have you tried checking the "Ignore White" option?

It's hard to say without an idea of what you're trying to trace. If you're tracing a logo and want the entire thing to be one color, you should be able to select everything and just set the color.

The question marks just denote that of the selected items, at least one has a different color value.

If that doesn't work, you can expand the trace and then drill down through the Layers panel to figure out what's getting traced as different color, and ungroup accordingly.

  • Thanks for trying to solve my issue. Yes, I usually tick the Ignore White option to conserve time so I don't have to delete the white bits myself. The problem still persist and I'm really desperate about it because half of what I do on Illustrator consists of traced images. I practically can't use the feature now. I tried to find the different colour bit from the layers panel but they all seem black to me. Still, even if this would somehow solve the problem for one instance, it's still tedious if I have to do it every time I trace something. Like I said, it has previously worked perfect.
    – mntblnk
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 22:03

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