How to use Appearance Panel / Palette in Adobe Illustrator (Complete)?

In this tutorial, you will be learning how to use appearance palette / panel in Adobe Illustrator. Appearance Panel is one of the most important panel / palette in Adobe Illustrator and I mostly used it during my designing tasks. There are many things that Illustrator users overlook in Appearance Panel. Even many of them use quite a long process for very simple things that can be easily done by making use of Appearance Panel or palette.


appearance panel in illustrator

Here, we have a rectangle having default (Fill: White, Stroke: Black) fill and stroke settings and if I select the object then it’s current appearance (Fill and stroke colors and transparency) will be displayed on the Appearance Panel. If you have any brush stroke or any blending mode applied to your object then the name of the brush and blending mode (With the current opacity value) will also be displayed in the Appearance Panel.


appearance panel in illustrator

Similarly, if you have any graphic style or any effect applied to the object then it will be displayed on the Appearance Panel. You can edit those effects by double clicking on it.

Note: Effects are indicated by a small "fx" icon on the Appearance panel.

Step 3

appearance panel in illustrator

You can easily remove the effects that you recently applied to your objects by clicking on top-right corner of the Appearance panel » Remove Item or Clicking on the bin icon present at the bottom of the Appearance panel.

Note: Make sure the correct item is selected before removing the particular item.

Step 4

appearance panel in illustrator

At the bottom of the Appearance panel you will find some icons. The first one is "New Artwork Has Basic Appearance". If we have an object with an effect or a graphic style applied to it and the "New Artwork Has Basic Appearance" button is OFF; then the same appearance will be applied to the object you create, (see Image) and if the button is ON, then the current fill and stroke properties will be applied to the object you create.

Step 5

appearance panel in illustrator

Clear Appearance button clears the overall appearance of the selected object including graphic styles, effects etc. It even sets your Fill & stroke colors to none and blending mode back to normal if you are using any blending mode.

Step 6

appearance panel in illustrator

Reduce Appearance to Basic button will reduce the objects’ appearance to the basic. It is similar to the Clear Appearance button except that it keeps the fill and stroke colors of the object.

Step 7

appearance panel in illustrator

Duplicate selected Item button will duplicate the selected item in the Appearance Panel except the transparency. You can even duplicate fill and stroke properties and use multiple Fill and strokes for a single object.

Step 8

A common question asked by some Illustrator users: How to add multiple strokes to the object in Adobe Illustrator? Generally, those who don’t know the correct method usually align rectangles at the top of each other to get the similar effect but it can be easily done by using Appearance Panel.

appearance panel in illustrator

To add multiple strokes to an object, first select the stroke and click on Duplicate Selected Item button to duplicate the stroke or click on the top right corner of the Appearance Panel » Add new Stroke. Select the upper stroke and set it’s width to 10 and color to red then select the bottom one and set the stroke weight to 20 and color to Blue. In the give image, I am using four strokes for the object and the strokes are arranged according to their respective stroke weight in the Appearance panel. The thing that has to be noticed is the stroke having greater stroke weight should be at the bottom.

Step 9

You can do the same thing with fill but in the case of fill we can’t use the solid color, as the upper one will hide the lower one; so in this case we will make use of effects to show how multiple fill works.

appearance panel in illustrator

Here, you can see that our object has two fill colors assigned to it. The top one (Red) has Scribble effect applied to it so that the bottom one (Green) is visible from the gaps. Similarly, you can add multiple fill and strokes to your object with each having different effects.

Note: Here, the scribble effect applied to the red fill color only but if we drag it out of the fill then it will affect the whole object.

Step 10

appearance panel in illustrator

Beside the bottom buttons, there are some more options in the Appearance panel and we can simply access these options by clicking on the top right corner of the Appearance Panel.

Show/Hide Thumbnail option toggles a small thumbnail present at the top-left corner of the Appearance Panel to preview the appearance.

Redefine graphic style option will replace the selected graphic style with the selected object’s appearance. To redefine a graphic style, first select a graphic style from Graphic Style Panel then select your object and click on top-right corner » Redefine Graphic Style.

That’s all about Appearance panel and I hope you learned something new from this tutorial. If you have any suggestion or question regarding this tutorial, let me know through your comments and emails. Good Luck.