Sometimes when using Adobe Illustrator I need to get a range of tints from a certain color, so I'll drop the opacity to, say, 75%, 50%, and 25% on a white background to get there. It's the quickest way to get what I want in that moment, but then it comes back to bite me later when I put something underneath and then I have visibly overlapping layers.

What I want to be able to do is get the value of the color that I'm seeing. In Photoshop I'd do this by putting a white layer underneath, merging the two layers, and then sampling the color. Is there some sort of trick I can pull in Illustrator to do the same thing?

If not, is there a different (and preferably simple) way to add white to a color? Changing S and B values in the color picker is the only thing I could think of in that regard and isn't always terribly simple to do...

6 Answers 6


In Illustrator, the easiest way I've found is ...

  • Select the transparent object(s)
  • Choose Object > Rasterize...
  • Use the Eyedropper Tool to Shift-Click the color.
  • Make note of the color in the Color Panel. (write it down)
  • Then Edit > Undo Twice to get back to the unrasterized object(s)

You can adjust colors based on Hue Saturation and Brightness in Illustrator as well. In the Color Panel menu simply choose HSB.


The panel will have a tendency to jump back to the document color mode (CMYK or RGB) so you may have to continually reset the Panel to HSB though. This is an annoyance that hopefully the AI dev team will fix at some point.

  • 1
    Obtuse, but effective. Bummer there's not an easier solution. For anyone reading along at home, make sure you do Object > Rasterize as Scott said, not Effect > Rasterize as I tried to do on my own before rereading this more closely!
    – Brendan
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 16:40
  • @Brendan not working in CC-2019, any workaround ? Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 9:17
  • One way to make this workflow a little more efficient is by duplicating (cmd+drag) the object you want to sample before rasterizing it. then you can delete after it's served it's purpose.
    – eballeste
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 0:26

I just made a screenshot of my project and pasted it right back and then sampled the color from that object, seems to work!

  • I feel a bit stupid that I had to google this now. Thanks for the common sense! 😆 Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 10:06

i know it's been years but i'm just trying to help out anyone else searching for the right method (like i did, 10 mins ago)

If you're talking about picking a color through layers of transparencies then all you need to do is select everything and Object > Flatten Transparency then push both resolution to max.

And ta-daah! The cool fact is if you group those objects together before flattening, they will stay inside the group.

(I would advice you to set those colours into custom swatches right away)


Posted on another post - but applies here as well ...

OK - I'm going to wade in with my graphic knowledge do note however that this only works in this specific scenario: color with overlays transparent white or black and only at 5% transparency intervals.

but that seems to be the question asked here ...

So after seeing these workaround methods and not really finding them to be a satisfactory solution ... I use this method:

Select your base color in CMYK values (lets say a nice green because green is a nice color) add the shape in white over the top and set your transparency of the white shape (lets say at 50% because that's in the middle)

So we have our nice green base and our shape looking like a lighter shade of that nice green (lets call that nice pastel green)

To get CMYK values for our nice pastel green we first use our eyedropper tool and click on our background color our base green

now we have that color selected go to the color guide palette - and we see our base color green selected in the color swatch go to the top right of the palette and the color guide options and set the steps to either 10 or 20 (20 is max) that gives you tints of the color from the base through to white or to black in 10% increments or in 5% increments (depending on if you made 10 or 20 steps)

I'm sure I'll get the haters because it won't work for two CMYK colors and blah blah blah, but the OP asked for 60% on white and this is the quickest method that gives you the exact color values

So I hope that helps in this case and if you want 37% transparency consider choosing 35 or 40 because any printing press in the world has 3% tolerance on its ink lay down on the dot so it actually makes no difference.

  • Hi Odobo, welcome to the site. It seems you found a duplicate question. In the future you might be better off leaving a comment to the other one, and flagging it so we can see if one of them should be closed. With enough rep you'll be able to vote to close things yourself. Nice answer though.
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 16:32

Use the 2nd file with a little square like a palette, and pull the color picker, while 2nd file is active. Use the 2nd file with a little square


I create a 2nd Illustrator document which sits tabbed (and v small) beneath my main one (i.e. permanently visible but unobtrusive).

There's a filled rectangle in this 2nd doc.

If I want to grab a 100% opaque version of a transparent colour within my main artwork, I select the rectangle and drag the eyedropper tool from this 2nd document over to the transparent colour in the main doc. You must drag the eyedropper otherwise it won't work!

The rectangle will take on the exact colour of the transparent object albeit at 100% opacity.

I then copy and paste this rectangle into my main artwork and sample the (100% opaque) colour from it.

It sounds like a convoluted workaround but takes seconds once you've sussed it.

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