Sampling color of partially transparent objects in Illustrator

Sometimes when using Adobe Illustrator I need to get a range of tints from a certain color, so I’ll drop the opacity to, say, 75%, 50%, and 25% on a white background to get there. It’s the quickest way to get what I want in that moment, but then it comes back to bite me later when I put something underneath and then I have visibly overlapping layers.

What I want to be able to do is get the value of the color that I’m seeing. In Photoshop I’d do this by putting a white layer underneath, merging the two layers, and then sampling the color. Is there some sort of trick I can pull in Illustrator to do the same thing?

If not, is there a different (and preferably simple) way to add white to a color? Changing S and B values in the color picker is the only thing I could think of in that regard and isn’t always terribly simple to do…


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

In Illustrator, the easiest way I’ve found is …

  • Select the transparent object(s)
  • Choose Object > Rasterize...
  • Use the Eyedropper Tool to ShiftClick the color.
  • Make note of the color in the Color Panel. (write it down)
  • Then Edit > Undo Twice to get back to the unrasterized object(s)

You can adjust colors based on Hue Saturation and Brightness in Illustrator as well. In the Color Panel menu simply choose HSB.


The panel will have a tendency to jump back to the document color mode (CMYK or RGB) so you may have to continually reset the Panel to HSB though. This is an annoyance that hopefully the AI dev team will fix at some point.

Method 2

I just made a screenshot of my project and pasted it right back and then sampled the color from that object, seems to work!

Method 3

i know it’s been years but i’m just trying to help out anyone else searching for the right method (like i did, 10 mins ago)

If you’re talking about picking a color through layers of transparencies then all you need to do is select everything and Object > Flatten Transparency then push both resolution to max.

And ta-daah! The cool fact is if you group those objects together before flattening, they will stay inside the group.

(I would advice you to set those colours into custom swatches right away)

Method 4

Posted on another post – but applies here as well …

OK – I’m going to wade in with my graphic knowledge do note however that this only works in this specific scenario: color with overlays transparent white or black and only at 5% transparency intervals.

but that seems to be the question asked here …

So after seeing these workaround methods and not really finding them to be a satisfactory solution … I use this method:

Select your base color in CMYK values (lets say a nice green because green is a nice color) add the shape in white over the top and set your transparency of the white shape (lets say at 50% because that’s in the middle)

So we have our nice green base and our shape looking like a lighter shade of that nice green (lets call that nice pastel green)

To get CMYK values for our nice pastel green we first use our eyedropper tool and click on our background color our base green

now we have that color selected go to the color guide palette – and we see our base color green selected in the color swatch go to the top right of the palette and the color guide options and set the steps to either 10 or 20 (20 is max) that gives you tints of the color from the base through to white or to black in 10% increments or in 5% increments (depending on if you made 10 or 20 steps)

I’m sure I’ll get the haters because it won’t work for two CMYK colors and blah blah blah, but the OP asked for 60% on white and this is the quickest method that gives you the exact color values

So I hope that helps in this case and if you want 37% transparency consider choosing 35 or 40 because any printing press in the world has 3% tolerance on its ink lay down on the dot so it actually makes no difference.

Method 5

Use the 2nd file with a little square like a palette, and pull the color picker, while 2nd file is active.
Use the 2nd file with a little square

Method 6

I create a 2nd Illustrator document which sits tabbed (and v small) beneath my main one (i.e. permanently visible but unobtrusive).

There’s a filled rectangle in this 2nd doc.

If I want to grab a 100% opaque version of a transparent colour within my main artwork, I select the rectangle and drag the eyedropper tool from this 2nd document over to the transparent colour in the main doc. You must drag the eyedropper otherwise it won’t work!

The rectangle will take on the exact colour of the transparent object albeit at 100% opacity.

I then copy and paste this rectangle into my main artwork and sample the (100% opaque) colour from it.

It sounds like a convoluted workaround but takes seconds once you’ve sussed it.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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