How to Use the Life Paint Feature in Adobe Illustrator CS6 - dummies

How to Use the Life Paint Feature in Adobe Illustrator CS6

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Don’t worry about filling closed shapes or letting fills escape from objects with gaps into unwanted areas. Using Adobe Illustrator CS6’s Live Paint feature, you can create the image you want and fill in regions with color. The Live Paint bucket automatically detects regions composed of independent intersecting paths and fills them accordingly. The paint within a given region remains live and flows automatically if any paths are moved.

If you want to give it a try, follow these steps to put together an example to experiment with:

  1. Use the Ellipse tool to create a circle on your page.

    Make the circle large enough to accommodate two or three inner circles.

  2. Press D (and nothing else).

    As long as you aren’t using the Type tool, you revert to the default colors of a black stroke and a white fill.

  3. Double-click the Scale tool and enter 75% in the Uniform Scale text box.

  4. Press the Copy button and then click OK.

    You see a smaller circle inside the original.

  5. Press Ctrl+D (Windows) or cmd+D (Mac) to duplicate the transformation and create another circle inside the last one.

  6. Choose Select→All or press Ctrl+A (Windows) or cmd+A (Mac) to activate the circles you just created.

  7. Make sure that the Fill swatch is forward.

    The Fill swatch is at the bottom of the Tools panel.

  8. Use the Swatches or Color panel and choose any fill color.

  9. Using the Selection tool, select all the circles. Next, click on the Live Paint Bucket tool, which is hidden under the Shape Builder tool, and click on the selection.

    This turns the selected objects into a Live Paint Group. Now when you move the Live Paint Bucket tool over them again, the different regions become highlighted, indicating they are ready to paint.

    See how the different regions become highlighted?

  10. Click when the region you want to fill is activated.

    Now try it with other fill colors in different regions.


A companion feature to the Live Paint Bucket is support for gap detection. With this feature in its arsenal, Illustrator automatically and dynamically detects and closes small to large gaps that may be part of the artwork. You can determine whether you want paint to flow across region gap boundaries by using the Gap Options dialog box, accessible by choosing Object→Live Paint→Gap Options.

Before you save a file for an older version of Illustrator that uses the Live Paint feature, first select the occurrences of Live Paint and choose Object→Expand. When the Expand dialog box appears, leave the options at their defaults and click OK. This setting breaks down the Live Paint objects to individual shapes, which older versions of Illustrator can understand.