The world of graphic designing and character animation is not how it used to be. Earlier, programs with limited functionalities made it easier to decide which tools you ought to learn as a beginner.  However, given the plethora of software, tools, tips, and tricks available to learn, it's pretty normal for anyone to feel overwhelmed and not realize where to begin.

Keeping track of your art's appearance can sometimes feel tedious, especially when you have multiple visual effects. Fortunately, Illustrator has a core hub from which we can quickly edit and fix all those effects on the go.

This step-by-step guide is for you to learn How to Use Appearance Panel in Adobe Illustrator. Keep reading to learn all the basics of using the Appearance Panel In Adobe Illustrator.

What is the Appearance Panel?

The Appearance panel is an incredible feature of Adobe Illustrator that helps us edit one object in many different ways. It makes it pretty easy to manage different properties of one object simultaneously without making copies of it. The Appearance Panel further allows you to modify and add to the visual presentation of an object.  

The Appearance panel is perhaps the best gateway to working with appearance attributes. One often applies multiple appearance attributes to layers, groups, objects, fills, and strokes. However, this makes the hierarchy of attributes in the artwork a bit complex, making it difficult to figure out which effect does what to which layer.  

This is where the Appearance panel swoops in. The Appearance Panel shows you the fills, strokes, graphic styles, and effects applied to an object, group, or layer.

Follow these basics to use the Appearance Panel In Adobe Illustrator and master your skills.

Getting Started with the Appearance Panel

  • First of all, open Illustrator, and open a new file with any size of the artboard.
  • Go to the Window menu at the top of the Illustrator window. 
  • Select the Appearance option in the list. The shortcut key for opening the Appearance panel is Shift+F6.
  • Like I already mentioned, the Appearance Panel helps us to edit an object in many different ways.
  • If I draw an object on an artboard like a Star, it has fill color white and stroke colour Black. The appearance panel shows us the same. Also, you can change your object's properties from here.
  • You can also see a shortcut to the appearance panel in the Properties Panel. By clicking it, the appearance panel opens up.

So, that was very simple. I mean, anyone can do this. Then why do we need this appearance panel? Well, you see, we can apply different effects, styles, patterns, and much more to one object, all using the same tool. Now, who wouldn't like that?

Applying Multiple Properties to One Object

In this software, when we draw different shapes. They have their properties. In the appearance panel, we can apply many properties to one object. Let's understand this in detail.

  • First, draw an object on an artboard; let's take a star now it has no properties. You can see in the appearance panel it has no properties, which means no stroke and no fill color.
  • Add some stroke value to it; Weight – 10pt will be better.
  • Now we are going to provide one more stroke to this object by using an appearance panel. Click on add a new stroke in the appearance panel. 
  • After that, a new stroke is added to your object.
  • Now you can add a different color to it and increase stroke weight. Here we can see the results. 
  • Similar to the layer panel, we can swap here between strokes and paths. You can add as many strokes here.

Let's take another example.

  • Take an oval shape with some heavy strokes. Now, I want to make a copy of it.
  • We generally Press Alt+drag and then hit Ctrl+D for duplicating the shapes.
  • But now, every oval shape has its own different properties, and we don't need that.
  • We need only one shape with many properties without copying it, and here comes the magic. 
  • There is an option known as Duplicate Selected Item in the Appearance panel. I am going to click this two times. You can repeat this several times, as per your requirements
  • Now we have three different strokes.
  • Please make changes in the stroke color to differentiate them. Now you can see that the other two strokes are not visible to us.
  • To make them visible, I am going to rotate them by clicking the Apply New Effect option.
  • Although there are so many effects, I suggest you play with them all, but I am going to select Distort and Transform>Transform for now.   
  • By clicking it, a new window pop up, shown as 
  • Hit the preview button and try playing with different values. I am going to make variations in the rotation value of the output you can see.
  • Try playing with another outline.
  • Similarly, you can apply any effect to any object.

Changing Shape Size

Now see if we will change its size, then I only have to change one shape size in this. Rest will change automatically with the master shape. Let's dive deep into this.

  • Now try making variations in the Opacity Value of strokes.
  • You will get the results like this.

Note: Suppose you want to make more objects like this with the same properties. Generally, we take shape and apply the same tricks or go through the same process. However, we don't have to go that far away. 

  • If we want to apply the same effects to other objects, we simply have to go to Window>Graphic Styles (Shift+F5). Graphic styles panel pop up. Drag your Object into this to add this style to the style list.
  • Now your style is saved in the list.
  • Now, take another object, maybe a rectangle this time.
  • Now select the object and click on the style. You will get a result like this.
  • Here all the properties that I have applied to the oval shape are now applied to this rounded corner rectangle. Here are some more.
  • It's not necessary to apply this property to only objects. We can apply these properties on paths and text, too, even on a line.
  • We can edit an Effect already applied on an object or text or Line.
  • Simply click on the effect option and edit the values you have applied.

All set to use the Appearance Panel?

So, Guys, this was all about Adobe Illustrator's Appearance panel. I hope you like it.

If you're new to Adobe Illustrator and don't know how to use Adobe illustrator, don't stress. Having worked in Illustrator for years, I can confidently say that even if you're beginning with this well-known graphics tool, you'll still be able to learn quickly. 

Getting the hang of the various features of Illustrator will undoubtedly take some time. Nonetheless, now that you have a basic foundation of the Appearance Panel, things will get a lot simpler. What matters the most is to get all the nuts and grits down so you can do your first project. Once you do that, the rest will fall into place perfectly.

Therefore, keep trying new things to create exciting creations.

Feel free to ask any questions!

Editor: Richa Sharma

Frequently Asked Questions

To open the Appearance panel in Illustrator, you can go to the “Window” menu and select “Appearance.” This will bring up the Appearance panel, which allows you to manage the appearance attributes of selected objects.

The purpose of the Appearance panel in Illustrator is to control and manage the appearance attributes of objects. It's a powerful tool to create complex illustrations by applying multiple strokes, fills, effects, and transparency settings to objects. You can stack and reorder appearance attributes to achieve unique and intricate visual effects.

On Illustrator for Mac, the Appearance panel can be found in the same location as in Windows. You can access it through the “Window” menu, and it serves the same purpose of managing the appearance attributes of objects.

In Illustrator, a panel is a user interface element that provides specific functions or controls. The Appearance panel, for example, allows you to manage the appearance attributes of objects. There are various panels in Illustrator, each tailored for different tasks, making it easier to access the tools and features needed for specific design tasks.