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Team Think Labs | Live Paint or Die Hard: Illustrator’s Live Paint Workflow
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Live Paint or Die Hard

Live Paint or Die Hard: Illustrator’s Live Paint Workflow

The Live Paint workflow in Illustrator can make creating and coloring artwork a snap. Live Painting begins with the Live Paint Bucket Tool (K). The Live Paint Bucket Tool functions much like any typical Paint Bucket Tool, you click an object to fill it with your selected color, but it has a few extra features and considerations.



The most important thing to know about the Live Paint Bucket Tool is that is only interacts with Live Paint Groups.

To create a Live Paint Group, simply:

(1) Select the desired artwork.

(2) Expand any complex appearances applied to the art, like custom strokes, by going to OBJECT > EXPAND APPEARANCE.

(3) Convert the art to a Live Paint Group by going to OBJECT > LIVE PAINT > MAKE (opt-cmnd-x).

Keep in mind that Live Paint Groups will override and combine your art’s previous group structure, so be aware when you are defining your Live Paint Groups. This is especially important for creating artwork that needs to be broken up for animation. You can tell a Live Paint Group apart from other artwork by the different looking bounding box.



Now that your have created a Live Paint Group you can start using the Live Paint Bucket Tool. When you mouse over a paintable object you will see its outline highlighted red. Now that you can see all of the different highlighted pieces of your Group, you can see that Live Painting will let you separately color all shapes created intersecting paths and enclosed areas. This is one of Live Painting’s most powerful features. You are no longer limited by only being able to color where an individual vector object exists.

The Live Paint Bucket Tool can be set to paint only strokes, paint only fills or both. When you are painting fills, your cursor will look like a paint bucket. When you are painting fills, your cursor will look like a paint brush. You can toggle back and forth between only stroke and only fill by pressing (shift).

The Live Paint Bucket Tool has a few other cool features that really make coloring fast and easy.

• Click and drag the Live Paint Bucket Tool to fill/stroke multiple paintable areas.

• Double-click on a paintable area to fill/stroke all similar, adjacent areas.

• Triple-click on a paintable area to fill/stroke all areas with the same fill/stroke.



Another handy method Live Painting is to utilize the “No Fill” swatch when creating artwork. You can fill paintable areas with “No Fill” to make them invisible, so you can quickly and loosely draw, then go back later and clean up your image. Sometimes is it better to purposely draw extra lines to create specific paintable areas in your artwork, then remove the extra lines later. You can hit (/) to quickly toggle to the No Fill swatch.



You can access the Live Paint Bucket Tool Options by double-clicking the Live Paint Bucket in the Tool Palette. Here you can customize the appearance of the rollover highlight, define if you want the tool to affect strokes and/or fills. You can also toggle the swatch preview on and off. The swatch preview will show your selected color and the 2 adjacent colors in the swatch panel. You can use the left/right arrow keys to navigate through swatches.

You can also go to OBJECT > LIVE PAINT > GAP OPTIONS to customize how large of gaps your Live Paint Groups will fill