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Illustrator Brushes: How to Change Colors

Brushes in Illustrator are a great way to emulate many different fashion related items including stitching, rhinestones and sequins.  They're easy to control and manipulate, and in this specific article, we'll go through how to change the color of brushes in Illustrator.

Changing the Stroke Color

If the brushes are set up a certain way, it may be as easy as changing the stroke color to change the brush color.  Try it out and see if it works.  Simply select the instance of the brush on the artboard, and change the stroke color.  Notice the coverstitch brush below is all the same brush from the brush panel, and is shown in 3 different colors by just a change in the stroke color.


If the brushes you are working with aren't changing color with a change in the stroke, then you will just have to change a few settings.

Change Brush Colorization

From the brush panel, double click on the brush you want to edit.  It will open the Brush Options dialog box where you can change the colorization method (in the bottom right corner).  The artwork in the brush will determine what method will work best for you.

Tints Colorization

Choose Tints as the colorization method if the brush is one color (black) as shown in this example with the coverstitch.

Tints and Shades Colorization

Choose Tints and Shades as the colorization method for tonal color artwork such as sequins or chains.

Hue Shift Colorization

Choose Hue Shift as the colorization method for artwork that has multiple colors (note however that black and white will remain unless they are the key color).  For example, on this zipper, you want the white portion to change (the fill of the teeth).  Choose Hue Shift and set the Key Color to white by  selecting the eye dropper and clicking on the brush preview until white is selected (tip: click and drag along the brush until you see the color you want - this interface is a bit tough when your brush is small).  Hue Shift colorization also works for multi colored brushes, but you can only precisely control the Key Color - all other colors in the brush will become colors related to the Key Color.

Are You Confused?

Brush colorization can be tricky to wrap your head around.  If you're not quite understanding how each one works, sometimes it can be helpful to play around with different methods and different key colors until you get the results you want.