How to Change Artboard Color in Adobe Illustrator

Your Illustrator artboard’s backdrop color is like the base coat of paint you would apply to a physical canvas before you started painting. Since white works well in most situations, Adobe Illustrator uses it as the default color for the canvas.

My name is Aly, I have been using Adobe Illustrator for many years as a graphic designer. In this tutorial, I will show you 2 ways to change the color of your artboard background in Adobe Illustrator. 

Note: Adobe’s default color for the background is transparent (even though it looks white). 

Method 1: Add a Rectangle

Use this method if you want to be able to change your artboard to any color of your choosing. 

Step 1: The simplest technique to add or modify the backdrop color of an artboard is to simply change the color of a rectangle.

You can do this by drawing a rectangle the same size as your artboard using the Rectangle Tool (keyboard shortcut M). The color would be the one you previously used for the Fill.

Now you can see that I have chosen a blue color for my background. If you don’t want to inadvertently move the rectangle, you can lock it. 

To lock the shape, just select the rectangle and press Command + 2. Go to the Layers panel and lock the layer if you wish to make it a backdrop layer.

Method 2: Changing the Transparency Color

You’re seeing a white background, but there is none! The white background that you see while creating a document is actually transparent. To see it, enable the grid view with transparency.

Step 1: By pressing Shift + Command + D, choose View > Show Transparency Grid from the overhead menu.

Step 2: You have a transparent background. It would be impossible to read white writing on a “white” background, that’s why we occasionally need to operate in grid mode. Now Select File > Document Setup from the overhead menu once more. You can choose the grid colors and view Transparency and Overprint Options.

Step 3: Select a fill color by clicking on the color box. After selecting a color, click the button to exit the window to view the grid’s new color.

Step 4: After picking your color, click OK. Now make sure “Simulate Colored Paper” is checked and press OK

The transparency grid will now change to the selected color. To conceal the transparency grid and still view the background color, use Shift + Command + D.

On the document itself, however, you will only be able to see the background color. The background color wouldn’t appear on the artboard when it was exported.

Final Thoughts

Learning to change the background color of your artboard in Illustrator is a very simple task that doesn’t require much time or effort at all. This is one of the first things I learned in college when learning how to use Adobe Illustrator and I do believe that it is a very important step to know right off the bat. 

Any of these methods work to change the color, you just need to decide what way works best for you and your project. 

Any questions about changing the artboard color in Adobe Illustrator? Leave a comment and let me know.

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