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Color / tint the brushes in Illustrator tutorial, how to

Illustrator brushes and re-color colorization of

How to recolor / tint / color brushes in Illustrator. Brushes in Illustrator can be defined with tinting features. You can also re-define the Illustrator brushes to use the current tints / shade / hue shift by changing the Illustrator brushes colorization method via the brush panel.

  1. Go to the brushes panel to find the color / tint options in Illustrator

  2. Double click the required brush

  3. Goto the brushes colorization and select the required color / tint / hue etc method

  4. click OK

The brushes can be used with multiple colors. It can also be change to add a red tint or green tint etc to the Illustrator brush, artistic or scatter. You can also change the color of the source brushes as well. The tinting of the brush stroke in Illustrator depends on the stroke color so if you set the stroke color to red then the brush stroke will be tinted red. If you set the color of the stroke in Illustrator to green then the applied brush stroke or selected brush stroke will be tinted green. Or shade of green depending on the colorization method. You can use the hue shift to change a single color of the brush stroke in Illustrator. This tutorials shows you how to use all three methods of colorization of brushes such as tints and hue shift. The tutorial also shows a few alternative approaches such as using editing the source and appearance panel to change the color of the Illustrator brushes. The tinting / re-color of brushes in Illustrator is a powerful and super useful feature of the brush tool and panel.

How to modify the color of the brushes / Setup

change and tint and re-color the brushes in Illustrator

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The most obvious method is to re-color the Illustrator brush stroke at source. Drag the brush stroke from the brushes panel and ungroup the brush and then remove the bounding box for the brush stroke and then change the color of the individual parts of the brush stroke.


Not particularly ideal but you can set up multiple brush strokes say a brush in red and a brush in green and a brush in blue and then select those brushes as and when you need that particular color. The image on the right uses that approach.


Slow but it does mean you have a large selection of like brushes to choose from in Illustrator's brush panel.


Using the brush options

  1. go to the brush panel

  2. go to the brush to change

  3. double click and display the brush options (in the example, it is the scatter brush options)

  4. change the colorization


You have four options: none, tints, tints and shade, hue shift

The example on the right shows the hue shift and that is the one that uses the key color. The key color is slightly odd as I notice from time to time that it does not appear to work (in my version of Illustrator) and only seems to start working when you use it in the none option and select the color with the eyedropper. It may work fine for you and select in all methods.

Colorization for the brush and none method

default colorization of Illustrator brush and none. If you select the none method for the color of the brush in Illustrator then the colors set at creation are used so if you have a black and red brush stroke (as used in this example) that is what will be applied as in the example on the left


The brush stroke is made of a black outer ring and red inner. In the example above you can see the key color is set to the red and that is the one changed in the hue shift. It is a bit like the dynamic symbols (new feature in Illustrator CC 2017. where the color can be changed (but this does not use the direct selection feature)

Colorization for the Illustrator brush and tints

tint colorization of the Illustrator brushesIn this, just set that method when you edit the brush stroke. If you want the brush stroke to be displayed in pink then go the stroke color in the toolbar and change that to pink and the red will be tinted pink and the black likewise (it is a very subtle difference - see example on the right with purple used)


You can also change the stroke to green and the stroke will then be converted into greens

Colorization method and tints / shades

If you change the method to this, the blacks are unchanged. The red will change to a shade of dark pink if pink is used (a tint applied to the grayscale brush stroke).


The brush strokes with this color method works best when the colors are nice bright colors and then you can see some difference between the colors making up the Illustrator brush such as in the image on the left.

Colorization method and hue shift

hue shift and color change in Illustrator brushes
  1. Double click the brush in the brushes panel

  2. Go to the eyedropper and click on the preview - select the color you want as your key color (in the example, red) otherwise it just defaults to a color it decides (normally it seems to be black)

  3. Set colorization to hue shift

  4. Click OK and accept any changes


Now when you change the stroke, the key color in the original brush stroke will be changed to the stroke color. If there are 10 colors in the brush stroke then only that one color changes (not sure why they didn't add multiple key colors or color 1 and color 2 etc). It would be useful if the key color was a dropdown with the colors in the path


So if you set the stroke to blue, the key color will change to blue

Appearance panel and changing color of brush strokes

appearance panel and changing colors of brush strokes in Illustrator

A not so ideal way of changing the color for the brushes is to use the appearance panel.


  1. Appearance panel

  2. Select brush stroke

  3. Go to the appearance panel and right menu and create a new stroke

  4. Make it a large stroke width setting and then use the opacity and blending modes such as color or lighten etc for the new stroke on top of the existing Illustrator brush stroke.


It is not a great way of adding color etc to the brush strokes but you can also use the opacity / transparency panel Via the new strokes line in the appearance panel) and page knockout group option (right side menu) to be on so the brush stroke / color does not affect the artwork below.

Sources and references

1. Color and tinting of Illustrator brushes on Adobe

Other tutorials

1. Adding grain and texture to the brush strokes in Illustrator tutorial