How to open swatches / patterns in Illustrator Tutorial

how to open swatches in Illustrator

How to open a swatch / pattern library in Illustrator CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 etc tutorial. A swatch in Illustrator is stored in a library, generally of a similar themed set of swatches (such as gradient swatches or pattern swatches or a set of similar colored swatches). The swatches libraries in Illustrator can contain one or twenty or 100s of swatches.


  1. Go to the window menu

  2. Swatches

  3. Goto swatches panel in Illustrator

  4. Right side menu

  5. Open swatch library

  6. Select one of the list items OR user defined etc


Swatches libraries

how to open swatches libraries

The Illustrator swatches libraries are stored in AI format and can be gradients, patterns as well as solid colors. So how to open them ?



Opening as Illustrator swatches via panel

open swatches librariesIf you want to open them as swatches then you can open them via the swatches panel and use the right side menu to load the items / AI files


  1. Go to the swatches panel

  2. Go to the right side menu

  3. Open swatch library

  4. Select one of the libraries in the list


Window menu approach

window menu and swatches open

You can also open them via the window menu and the swatches library option


  1. Window menu in Illustrator

  2. Swatches libraries (close to bottom)

  3. Select library


Opening the swatches via panel bottom

You can also use the bottom of the panel to open the libraries


swatches library read only file in IllustratorAnother way to open them is to have at least one library panel (they are read only) displayed and then use the bottom panel menu to either open the set . The swatches will only appear if they have been added to the presets folder otherwise you will have to use the other library option


Or use the arrows - back and forward to load another set (though depends on the sets being available).


The opened swatch libraries are read only and you can select items which are added to the main swatches panel. You cannot delete them from the read only libraries so if you wish to delete the pattern tiles then you will have to open the source file and delete them there.


The swatches libraries will appear in the menu list if they have been added to the presets 'swatches' folder but if they are not located in that folder (admin or user equivalent) you will have to use the other library option.


Opening a source swatches file

You can open the AI files (they are all stored in AI format) via the file open command. The only trouble with this is that the items will only then be limited to the current document. You can copy the items from this file and then add them to another document and then drag those paths into the presets panel. A bit of a workaround but it can be done.


Other library option

other libraries panel commandPersonally, I find the other library option more useful as I store all my swatches in a central location and don't leave the swatches in the presets folder for different versions of Illustrator.


Other swatches libraries available on this site

1. spiral scroll and curled swatches

2. Illustrator star swatches libraries

3. square swatches / patterns for Illustrator

4. starburst and star themed burst swatches for Illustrator


Free swatches

1. free selection of swatches on the site


Other tutorials

1. how to export SVG files from Illustrator

2. how to enhance spirals in Illustrator

3. how to use the live shapes / ellipse tool in Illustrator


Youtube Video tutorials

How to open the swatches file as a normal file and use the resources in another. Tutorial showing how to open and use the swatches file [Youtube]