How to brighten colors in Illustrator

How To Brighten Colors In Illustrator Globally

How To Brighten Colors In Illustrator Globally 800 470 Nick Saporito

By now it’s no secret that Adobe Illustrator comes packed with more tools and features than any other vector design application. One of Illustrator’s many hidden gems is the Recolor Artwork menu, which allows you to adjust the color settings of your designs globally, without having to manually change the color of each individual color. Today we’ll be using this feature to brighten colors in Illustrator so that they look more colorful and lively.

Knowing how to brighten colors in Illustrator is simply a matter of opening the Advanced tab in the Recolor Artwork menu, then adjusting the Brightness slider to increase or decrease its value. We’ll also be going over how to tweak some of these colors in a more localized way as well.

One of the other benefits of using this tool — aside from being able to apply global color changes — is that it locks your colors into a complementary profile so that they don’t clash. If you were to change the colors of each individual object manually, there’s a greater chance you might choose colors that clash with each other or don’t quite look right for one reason or another.

How To Brighten Colors In Illustrator

To brighten colors in Illustrator, open the Recolor Artwork menu and click the Advanced button in the bottom-right corner. Then, click the menu icon and choose Global Adjust. From there, move the Brightness slider to the right to increase the image’s brightness.

It should be noted that this method only works with vector artwork. If you’re trying to brighten a rasterized image, like a photo, JPEG, or PNG file, you’ll have to use another method.

The following video tutorial will walk you through the process of brightening your artwork in Illustrator using the Recolor Artwork menu:

Continue on for the written instructions.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Select your artwork and open the Recolor Artwork menu

In order to brighten colors in Illustrator, the first thing we need to do select the objects you’d like to brighten. If you don’t have any objects selected then the Recolor Artwork menu will not be selectable.

Select your objects by clicking and dragging over them with the Select Tool, or you can select all by pressing Control + A on your keyboard.

For this demonstration, I will be brightening the colors of the following design:

Example design

In order to open the Recolor Artwork menu, you’ll need to have at least one object selected.

With your artwork selected, open the Recolor Artwork menu by navigating to Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork.

This is what the Recolor Artwork menu looks like once opened:

Recolor Artwork menu

There’s lots that can be done with this menu, but for this lesson we’ll only be focusing on brightening your colors.

Step 2: Open the Advanced tab and choose Global Adjust from the menu

Within the Recolor Artwork menu, you’ll see a button in the bottom-right corner that is labeled as “Advanced Options“…

Advanced Menu button

Click that button to open up the Advanced menu:

Advanced menu

Next, click the little hamburger-style menu icon towards the bottom of the menu, and choose “Global Adjust” from the dropdown list.

Global Adjust menu item

This will open a new menu:

Color settings

In this section of the menu you can adjust various different color settings.

Within this menu you will be able to adjust the following settings:

  • Saturation
  • Brightness
  • Temperature
  • Luminosity

Step 3: Move the Brightness slider to the right to increase the brightness

In order to brighten colors in Illustrator, all you have to do is simply move the Brightness slider to the right. The further you move the slider, the more intense the changes will be.

As you increase the brightness, you’ll notice the changes happening live on your canvas. If nothing is visibly changing then make sure you have the Recolor Artwork box enabled in the bottom-left corner of the menu:

Increasing brightness

Moving the Brightness slider to the right will brighten the colors of your selected artwork.

You can also adjust some of the other settings as well to see if they improve your artwork to your liking.

If you’re overall satisfied with the change, but there’s a particular color you’d like to change, you can do that using the Current Colors menu located just above the color settings sliders. The colors listed in the left column represent the original color, whereas the colors listed in the right column represent the new color once you’re finished brightening your image.

To change a color, simply double-click it to open the color selection menu, and from there you can choose your color:

Color picker

For my demonstration graphic, I had to adjust a couple of the colors individually because I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how they came out.

Make sure you are satisfied with all of your color selections before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Click OK to apply your changes

Once you’ve finished brightening your colors, all you have to do now to apply the changes is click the OK button. The colors of your vector artwork will now be brighter:

Brightened colors

The applied changes make the design look more vibrant and lively.

For comparison, here is how the design original looked versus how it looks once I brightened the colors:

Before and after

The design on the left is the original. The design on the right is how the design looks once the colors are brightened.

As you can see, the image on the right is more vibrant and lively.


Thanks to some of the robust features provided by Adobe, it couldn’t be easier to brighten colors in Illustrator. What’s more, this feature provides for added convenience by allowing the changes to be made globally, instead of having to manually change the color of each object individually. This is a really useful tool that I’d love to see implemented in other vector design applications.

If you have any questions, or if any part of this lesson was unclear, simply leave a comment below.

Disclaimer: this website is ad-free and does not contain affiliate links or sponsored content 🤘

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Nick Saporito

Hi, I'm Nick— a Philadelphia-based graphic designer with over 10 years of experience. Each year millions of users learn how to use design software to express their creativity using my tutorials here and on YouTube.

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