Follow this link to download the files I used in the video.

In the video above I teach you step-by-step how to to take line art created in Adobe Illustrator and add color very simply. For a reference of what I taught in the video, follow these steps:

1. Convert All of the Line Art to Fill

To do this, in the top menu bar go to OBJECT>EXPAND APPEARANCE. Then go to OBJECT>EXPAND, in the dialogue box which appears select all of the options and then hit okay. Then using the PATHFINDER tool select the MERGE option. Next go to OBJECT>PATH>CLEAN UP, in the dialogue box which appears select all of the options then hit okay. Then use the the color pallet to set the fill for everything to black.

2.  Create the Color Fill

Create a Large rectangle of any color, I recommend a lighter color, and make it large enough to cover the art board closely. Then move it behind all of the line art and merge the line art and the rectangle together using the PATHFINDER MERGE tool. Then double click on the art board to enter isolation mode and select the magic wand tool. Using the magic wand select the black line art and group it together. Next exit isolation mode and then select the entire group, color and line art, then ungroup it. Next create a new layer above the current one. Move the group which has the line art into this layer and leave the rest in its current layer.

3. Color the Shapes in Greyscale

Select the cut out shapes left in the first layer in greyscale using the color pallet in greyscale mode (make sure to have show options selected). Right now just focus on creating good value contrast. Make it look good in black and white and we will add color next.

4. Add the Color

To add color select the greyscale layer. Copy the entire layer with CMD/CNTRL + OPTION/ALT then paste it in front with the short-cut CMD/CNTRL + F then group the selection together using CMD/CNTRL + G. Next create a new layer above the greyscale layer and move the new group into this layer. Next select a shape to color. With a shape selected open the color pallet and choose HSB mode. Set the saturation and brightness to 100% then slide the hue around to get the color you desire. Next use the transparency panel to set the opacity to 50%. This can be adjusted to preference but I like to start at 50% and work from there. Continue this process to color the entire image.

5. Add lighting and shading

First create a new layer above the layer adding color. Now Move selections from the value layer to the new layer using the same technique explained in step 4. Instead of grabbing everything though only add the parts that you would like to shade. Once you have the shapes to add shading to in the new layer, select one and open up the gradient panel. In this panel create a linear gradient and set both colors to white.  Where the light is the weakest set the slider’s opacity to 0%. Where the light is the strongest set it somewhere up  to 100% depending on how strong the light source is. Next, adjust the gradient sliders to get the desired look. a more dramatic change suggests a shiny surface where a gradual change would suggest something more matte. To create shading, use the same process, but set your colors to black instead of white.

Helaman Higley
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Helaman Higley

Graphic Designer. Illustrator. Photographer. Creator.

Helaman is a student of Visual Design at BYU-Idaho.
Lover of design and astronomy, he aspires to be a creative director. He loves using his skills to create unique and compelling graphics for any need.
Helaman Higley
Find me at

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