Global Color Swatches

1. Global color swatches is an feature in Illustrator that can be very useful when you work on projects that has LOTS of objects and shapes. First make TONS of shapes and objects in your Illustrator document to test it out. Now choose all or some shapes to have the same colors.

2. To use global color swatch settings, you need to choose your color of choice first in the swatches tab. Make sure the shapes have the color applied to it. Now double click on one of the swatches.

3. Now there should be a dialog box like you see on the screenshot above. Click the GLOBAL check box and adjust the color or keep it the way it is.

4. Again, make sure that the shapes you want to change colors have that color swatch that you just checked “GLOBAL” to is applied.

5. Now double click the same swatch again and open the dialog box. Change the color this time and make sure PREVIEW check box is selected. Now to experiment that it is working, deselect the shapes in your Illustrator document, then double click the global color swatch you just created, and change the color. Even if you do not have the shapes selected, the colors should all change dynamically.

17 Responses to “Global Color Swatches”

  1. siti said:

    my color didn’t change globally. i cannot figure out the reason.. the tiny triangle already appear on the chosen swatch color.. help me.. tq..

  2. sheehan said:

    another wow goes for you. amazing TEACHER!

  3. jazbro said:

    I also did not get a global change, everything went fine up to changing the color .. but the global change did not take effect… I created the global swatch and got the triangle and named it, then when I changed the color of the swatch it did not change the color of the objects … ???

    Can you walk me thru that?



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  5. nelson said:

    Here is how the process going…
    1st select a color you want to make it a global color from the color swatches pallette or you can customize a color of your choice and add it on the color swatches pallete
    2nd click on the small triangle on the right side of the swatch palette, choice swatch option and check global color, click OK
    Now to know that what your doing is working Do some shapes 2 shapes or more will do. double click on the color you just did a global color and dialogue box appear, here be sure to check the preview box to see the result and adjust the color slider you will see color change even without selecting a shape…

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  9. Roswitha said:

    I love your tutorials! Even as total Illustrator beginner I can follow your instructions and create great results! Thanks a lot!

  10. Chris Takakura said:

    @Roswitha: Thank you very much :)

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  12. YesJude said:


    thanks for the info, it helped me a lot, especially the ‘global’ thing, you really need to think your design through before you start..
    I think I’m going to use this method for every design from now on. thanks

  13. mackeornee said:

    I have followed these directions with success when changing the color on a single open project.

    However, when I try to change the swatch after having closed the file and re-opened it the automatic update no longer seems to apply…

    Additionally, I would like to be able to update colors across multiple projects that are all using the same Global Process Color Palette/Swatches.

    Can this be accomplished?

    I’ve scoured the web looking for answers, and have been unable to find a solution. Thank-you in advance for any suggestions.

  14. mackeornee said:

    @mackeornee: Nevermind…I realized it was because of the file extension I was using. THANKS!

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  16. Lars Eriksson said:

    How to break the link to a global Swatch color, like we can do with Symbols?

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