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How to open swatches / patterns in Illustrator Tutorial

how to open swatches in Illustrator
  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

  7. Or go to the user defined and browse

How to open a swatch / pattern library in Illustrator CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 etc tutorial. The pattern swatches can be loaded in a number of ways via the window menu and via the swatches panel as well as via the swatch libraries panel as well as opening the pattern swatches via the file open command. The above steps are probably as good as any to open and then use the Illustrator pattern swatches

Some pattern swatches sets to purchase and open in Illustrator

BUY $4.95 ** 240 Contour pattern swatches AI (V51) Contour pattern swatches for Illustrator

BUY $4.95 ** 270 Contourpatterns swatches AI (V5) Contour / offset pattern swatches for Illustrator CC 2017 2015 ...

Swatch libraries are stored in AI format and can include solid colors, gradients and patterns (as are many on this site)

how to open swatches libraries from graphicxtras

The Illustrator swatches libraries are stored in AI format and can be gradients, patterns as well as solid colors. So how to load the graphicxtras patterns into your projects

  1. Buy the pattern swatches via our pattern swatches section

  2. Download the pattern swatches sets (via the links sent from

  3. Unzip the downloaded sets using stuffit expander or winzip etc

  4. Select the AI files and copy

  5. Store the AI files away on a cloud server etc for backup

  6. Copy the AI files into the presets 'swatches' folder

  7. Access then via the window menu

Location for the AI Pattern swatch files for Illustrator

swatches location

This varies from version to version but generally you can find the location for the swatches in the sub folder of the presets folder found in a sub folder of en_GB, en_US etc which can be found in the applications folder / program files depending on pc or mac


Example on the right shows the location for the mac and CC 2017 but the location has varied a little over the years. I assume that Illustrator CC 2018 presets folder will be in the CC 2018 section, Illustrator CC 2019 presets folder will be in much the same location as well

You can also open the swatch libraries via the swatches panel in Illustrator

swatches panel and opening libraries The swatches can also be opened via the panel (much the same as with the window menu)

  1. Go to the window menu

  2. Swatches

  3. Go to the swatches panel

  4. Right side menu

  5. Open swatch library

  6. Select one of the libraries

  7. Once the library has been opened, select a path and then select a pattern swatch to fill the path

You can also open the swatch / pattern libraries in Illustrator via the bottom section of the swatch library panel

swatch library access via libraries panel in Illustrator
  1. Go to an opened swatch library panel (not the document but any opened read only library)

  2. Go to the bottom of the read only panel

  3. Click on the little arrows at the bottom

  4. Click on left to see previous library

  5. Click on right arrow to go to the next library

  6. Select one of the patterns

Another way to open them is to have at least one swatch 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.

The swatches can also be opened via the file open command of Illustrator and accessed at source

source illustrator swatches panel

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.

  1. file

  2. open command

  3. browse for the AI pattern swatches file

  4. Select design

  5. copy

  6. Go to another document

  7. Object menu

  8. Pattern

  9. Make

You can now use this pattern in your work

If the swatch library is not stored in the presets folder, it can also be opened or browsed via the other library command

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.

  1. Go to the swatches panel

  2. Right side menu

  3. Open swatch library

  4. Other library

Free swatches for you to use royalty free in your work

1. free selection of swatches on the site

Other tutorials relating to Illustrator such as our how to use live shapes etc

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]


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Updated: August 2017