How to Use the Paint Bucket in Illustrator

By Zach Dexter

Updated September 28, 2017

Illustrator's live paint bucket tool helps you apply stroke or fill in groups.
i bucket image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Adobe Photoshop fans might find themselves momentarily confused by the paint bucket tool in Adobe Illustrator. The paint bucket is a fill tool in both programs but functions differently. In Illustrator, the paths that form the perimeter of the shapes you create are called edges, and the spaces between those paths are called faces. The live paint bucket tool allows you to group together edges and faces in convenient ways.

Double-click the desktop icon for Adobe Illustrator to launch it, or click “Start,” “All Programs,” and "Adobe Illustrator."

Click the “Path” tool, and draw a figure to which you wish to apply different fill or stroke colors.

Click the "Live Paint Bucket" tool.

Click which color you wish to use if you are filling a face. A face is any shape formed by vector paths; a fill is the actual paint applied to a face.

Click both your color and stroke size if you are stroking an edge. An edge is a vector path that forms the perimeter around a shape; a stroke (as in brush stroke) is the actual paint applied to an edge.

Click one of the faces on the shape to fill that shape with the color. You can also click and drag across multiple faces to paint them all at once.

Double-click a face to do a flood fill, which fills that face as well as any adjacent faces separated by an unstroked edge. Double-clicking on an edge causes all connected edges around the same color to be stroked at once.

Triple-click to fill a shape along with all other shapes filled with the same color at once. Triple-clicking an edge causes all edges of the same stroke to be stroked at once.