Illustrator Expand Appearance

Illustrator Expand Appearance

What Does Illustrator Expand Appearance Do?

The Illustrator expand appearance option changes shapes, texts, brush strokes, etc. into different vector objects with editing points, which makes editing each of them very simple. Once expand is used on an object, one will not be able to edit the abject with its respective tool, for example, if one expands a color stroke, one will not be able to edit it with its respective tool same goes with all the other objects and will not be able to edit them with the tool they should be edited with, as they are not expanded into individual vector objects.

When Should We Expand?

We should expand the objects only if we have to edit and save these objects as vector objects. Expanding texts can help us share the text as a vector object, and we can print it or share it with anyone, and they will be able to see it and as it is a vector graphic it will not lose any resolution. 

How to Expand in Illustrator

To expand objects in Illustrator, follow these steps:

  • Select the objects which you would like to expand.
  • Go to the “Object” option on the toolbar and select the “Expand” dialogue box.
  • Click “OK”.
  • If the objects are grouped, Ungroup them by using the shortcut “Ctrl + Shift + G”. Now the objects will be moving separately. 

How to Undo Expand?

To undo whatever you expanded, simply use the classic undo option “Ctrl + Z” or you can go to the “Edit” menu and click on the “Undo” option. If you have gone way too ahead from the first step, and you are unable to undo the Ctrl + Z command, then sadly nothing can be done to reverse this. The best thing to while expanding is to do while expanding an image is to keep a copy of what you are expanding, just in case things could go wrong.

What Can You Do With Illustrator Expand Appearance? 

When there are a lot of appearance effects on the object in Illustrator, the expand option is grayed out and in this case, we can use the Illustrator expand appearance option. The Illustrator expand appearance shatters these effects and converts them to a vector object for us to edit, share or print. 

Difference between outline stroke and Illustrator expand appearance 

The difference between outline stroke and expand appearance is the same as the difference between expand and Illustrator expand appearance. Both expand and outline strokes fulfill the same need. Expand and outline strokes have no difference, it is just that Adobe Illustrator has different ways of doing the same thing.     

Difference between expand and expand appearance  

When you expand an object, it turns into a vector object which can be saved and shared and printed, and the object will not lose any resolution as it is a vector object, but if you apply Illustrator expand appearance it converts the object to a raster object, and it is applicable to brush strokes which have appearance effects. Both of these features do the same thing and are not very different from each other. But both these effects will not be available at the same time. Once expand is available, expand appearance will be grayed out, and Illustrator expand appearance will not be available when expand is available.      

An example of Workflow - Illustrator

How to Perform Illustrator Expand Appearance? 

Follow these simple steps to get Illustrator to expand appearance.

  • Select the object you want to expand
  • Click on the “Object” option on the toolbar
  • If the object has any type of appearance effects on it, the “Expand option will be grayed out and the “Expand Appearance” will be available.
  • Click on the “Expand Appearance” option and a dialogue will open.
  • Set your desired options and click “OK”. 

How to Undo Expand Appearance?

Undo Illustrator expand appearance the same way you did for the expand option, just use the “Ctrl + Z” command or go to the edit option on the toolbar and click on “Undo”. If you have gone way too ahead, you can not reverse the expansion. 

How to Group and Ungroup on Illustrator 

Group and ungroup are required so that we can edit an entire group of objects together or edit objects individually. Let us see the steps to group and ungroup the objects. 

To Group
  • Select the objects you want to group.
  • Press and hold down the “Shift” key and select all the objects
  • Go to the “Object” option and click on the “Group” option. 

You can also use the shortcut “Ctrl + G”.

To Ungroup:
  • Select the object you want to ungroup in Illustrator
  • Press and hold down the “Shift” key and select all the objects
  • Go to the “Object” menu and select the “Ungroup” option and all the selected objects will be ungrouped, and you can now edit them individually. 

The shortcut for Ungroup is “Ctrl + Shift + G”.

Tools You Need to Be Aware of in Illustrator

As we all know, Adobe Illustrator can be very difficult for someone who is a beginner. The Illustrator is bombarded with tools, and it has a very steep learning curve. Some of the basic tools you need to be aware of just to get started are some painting tools, selection tools, and other tools which we will explain to you in detail. These tools need to be understood, so you can start to work on Illustrator.

The Selection Tool

The selection tool is one of the most common tools when it comes to using Illustrator. This tool is used to select objects or shapes in a document. If you choose to select more than one object or shape. Just click on the selection tool, hold down the shift key, and select as many shapes and objects as you desire. 

The Pen Tool

The pen tool can be a tad bit annoying to use at the start, but as you keep practicing, it will get easier and more fun to use. The pen tool allows uses to create mind-blowing artwork, as a user can create shapes and free-flowing curves in Illustrator.

The Type Tool

Type tool is used for adding text to the image, path, and any other artwork. We can add paragraphs, single lines, or just a few words to an object or an image using the text tool. Text tool has many subcategories, which you can find by going into the text tool sub-menu. The categories under the type tool are.

  • Area type tool
  • Type on path tool
  • Vertical type tool 
  • V.area type tool
  • V.type on path tool 
  • Touch type tool 

Each of these tools helps us in writing vertically, on a path, and much more. The touch type tool is a new addition to Adobe Illustrator CC and this tool allows us to rotate, move and write overlapping texts, all while keeping the text editable. 

The Erase Tool

You would have understood by the name itself what this tool does. The eraser tool creates the pixels that in turn create an object, path, or image transparent or allow it to become transparent. There are various modes of the eraser tool in Adobe Illustrator.  

  • Brush
  • Pencil
  • Block   

The eraser tool also comes in 3 variations

  1. Regular eraser – Erases pixels wherever you click and drag the cursor. 
  2. Background eraser –  Samples a particular color and removes any other color that matches the sample.
  3. Magic eraser – Selects and erases pixels of the same color. It works like a magic wand tool.  

The Artboard Tool

With the help of the artboard tool, edit the artboard. The artboard is used so that one will be able to design and manifest artwork. This tool will help one with editing the artboard itself, from its appearance to how the panel looks.   

Illustrator Expand Appearance Example


We often get the question about what exactly is Illustrator expand appearance? What is the difference between expand and expand appearance? Expand is a tool with which we can change shapes, texts, brush strokes, etc. into individual vector objects, which makes editing and sharing them as individual objects easier.

These objects will not lose any resolution as they are vector objects. There is not much difference between expand and expand appearance, they fulfill the same need but will not be available at the same time. Expand can change objects to vector objects, while Illustrator expand appearance comes in only when there is an appearance effect on the layer. To learn how to expand and undo expand, just refer to the few simple steps we have provided for you. Before you begin to learn to expand, we suggest you learn a few of the basic tools in Adobe Illustrator, this will make it easier for you to create and design your artwork. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. What are some basic tools to learn on Adobe Illustrator?

A few basic tools to learn on Illustrator are. Selection tool, Eraser tool, Pen tool, a Type tool, Artboard Tool. These are just a few, but the more tools you learn, the better your artwork will be. 

2.  Why do we require to group or ungroup?

If you want to edit several objects together, it would be easier to do it if you group the objects. If you require editing the objects individually, then you can do it by ungrouping them. To group objects, just select the objects and press “Ctrl + G”. To ungroup, select the objects and press “Ctrl + Shift + G”.     

Leave a Comment