How the Adobe Illustrator Eyedropper Tool Helps You Create Cool Infographics

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

The Eyedropper tool is one of the most useful in Illustrator’s toolbox for creating infographics. Use it to copy attributes — for example color, font, or level of transparency — from anything in your document and then apply those attributes to virtually anything else in your document.

Choosing color shades with the eyedropper tool

Say you have a photo with a shade of blue that you would like to use in your graphic. Here’s how easy it is:

  1. Paste the photo into your Illustrator document by choosing File→Place.

  2. In the file-browsing dialog box that Illustrator opens, search for the image you want.

  3. Double-click the file in the dialog box and click the place within your document where you want to put the photo.

  4. Activate the Eyedropper tool from the Tools palette.

  5. In the pasted photo, click the color you want to copy.

    The Eyedropper “picks up” the information. You’ll see the color show up in the box at the bottom of your toolbar.

  6. Activate a drawing tool — say, the Pen tool — and draw a shape.

    It will automatically have the color you just picked up.

    The picked-up color becomes a part of your working file, isolating/defining that color with the Eyedropper allows you to add the color to a shape or text, and you can also add it to your color swatches for use later.

    Press D on your keyboard at any point to return that box to your default color.

Changing a color out of your design

Here’s how to change the color of a shape already in your design. For this example, assume you have a blue box and a red circle, but you want the circle to also become blue.

  1. Select the shape — in this case, the red circle.

    You can change attributes for more than one shape at a time. Select as many polygons and type elements as you want, and change them all at once. Just hold down Shift while you click to select multiple items.

  2. Activate the Eyedropper tool and click the blue box.

    The red circle takes on the same color and stroke as the blue box.

    If you hold down Option/Alt while clicking, the Eyedropper tool works the opposite way — turning the box red.

Custom Eyedropper

If you don’t want the Eyedropper tool to pick up all the attributes of whatever you’re copying, you can customize the tool. Double-click the Eyedropper icon in the Tools palette to bring up a dialog box where you can select what the Eyedropper will affect.

For example, if you want it to use only the level of transparency, clear all check boxes but that one. The red circle in the example now picks up only the amount of transparency applied to the blue box, not the color or stroke. The same function allows you to copy font information.