For the last few versions of Illustrator, a new feature called “Live Paint” has been introduced. This allows you to “fill in” your work with color. Why is it such a big deal to “fill in” your work with color, you ask? Hasn’t the concept of filling something with a paint bucket icon been around since we were using antiquated painting applications? Good question.
Historically, the problem with doing this seemingly simple task has been that Illustrator doesn’t always see your work as enclosed shapes that you can color in. Instead, Illustrator sees individual paths that happen to intersect with one another. It’s not smart enough to know that when a series of paths intersect to create an enclosed shape, that you should be able to fill that new shape. That’s where “Live Paint” comes in.
Converting your object to a “Live Paint” object is simple.
- Select the area you want to convert to a Live Paint object (for me, I usually finish my work first and then select everything. Note that you may want to convert your paths to objects before using Live Paint. You do this by selecting all and then going to Object -> Path -> Outline Stroke
- Convert your selection to Live Paint by going to Object -> Live Paint -> Make
- Nothing much has changed except now you can use the Live Paint Icon to fill in your Live Paint object:
- Now just select a color you want and fill in your object. Easy! If you have open shapes (something that isn’t fully surrounded by an outline) the fill won’t work. However, there are settings for Live Paint under Object -> Live Paint -> Gap Options that let you define how tolerant Illustrator will be of shapes that aren’t fully closed off.
Below is a time-lapse example of an illustration I did that uses Live Paint. You’ll see how after the initial work is done, it’s quite easy to to lay in color using Live Paint.