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How to combine multiple (merge) Illustrator swatches tutorial

multiple illustrator swatches combination

How to combine (merge) multiple swatches / fills / patterns in Adobe Illustrator CC CS6 CS5 etc tutorial via styles. Illustrator swatches are wonderful designs on their own, but combining Illustrator swatches (AI format files) they become even more magical. Combining multiple swatches in Illustrator can result in subtle designs with a lovely painted Illustrator look or perhaps more extreme like the image on the right which uses blending modes and mixes two diamond Illustrator swatches or perhaps use gradients in combination to create even more amazing gradient swatch designs. Note: there is a merge Illustrator swatch feature but this may or may not work (it does not work with my version of Illustrator CC 2017 but it should work with earlier). This tutorial shows you how to combine the swatches / merging them via the appearance panel in Illustrator. This tutorial also shows how to combine Illustrator swacthes if transparency is included and how to save the swatches combination as an Illustrator style.


Illustrator swatches and combining fills via appearance

  1. You can go to the right side menu of appearance panel and clear appearance to get to a decent start point.

  2. Go to the swatches panel and select an item (can be any of the ones on the site or any other sets).

  3. Once you have applied one fill

  4. Then go to add new fill or duplicate command (same menu as before) and add a swatch.

  5. You will only see that one now as the lower down fill is hidden by the top artwork (in most cases unless there is transparency).

  6. Go to the opacity section (it is displayed as a link next to the fill in the appearance panel) on the latest fill and set the opacity to say, 50%.


Or set the blending mode to darken or lighten etc and depending on the fills, more or less of the underlying fill will be seen.

Transparency included and combining them

Some of the tiles in the various sets do not need to use the opacity / blending mode. Some of the swatches tiles already have transparency inbuilt and can be combined multiple times without the need to change the opacity etc. You can also shift / move the artwork in the swatch (or scale or rotate) via the object menu transform (the key thing is to set the transform object option to OFF and put the pattern to ON) I must admit the move command / panel is terrible to use - certain they could make it a little more flexible and perhaps interactive to use.


  1. select the swatch fill line in the appearance panel

  2. go to the object / transform / move command

  3. deselect the object option

  4. enter the settings to shift the pattern (as with the image on the left made up of two swatches - basically the same swatch but modified to be blue instead of an orange Illustrator swatch)

Saving the combination as a style in Illustrator

Once you have added all the fills and strokes

  1. go to the graphic style's panel

  2. select the right side menu

  3. select the new style option and save all the combinations into the style's panel

You can now re-use the merging / combination of the two swatches (or three or four swatches etc)

Merge swatches

At the present, the Illustrator merge functionality makes no sense (not in my version of Illustrator). It does not seem to merge gradient or patterns. Perhaps that is not the purpose of the merge but it does seem a little limited if that is the case. Anyway, the merge swatches function is there and perhaps you will have more joy with it in CS5 (when it used to work)


  1. select two or more swatches in the swatches panel

  2. Go to the right side menu

  3. Merge swatches

Good luck, perhaps you will be ok and the swatches will merge fine using that approach

Other tutorials

You can find many other tutorials such as how to open and load the Illustrator swatches

Sources and references

1. Merging swatches on Adobe

Youtube Video tutorials - how can we find out more

Tutorial on the subject [Youtube]