How to Lighten in Illustrator

By Andy Walton

Illustrator's blend modes govern the interaction of transparent objects.
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Adobe Illustrator's Lighten function is a blend mode, used to make certain parts of an object lighter by moving a second, semi-transparent object over the top of it. With Lighten mode selected, Illustrator assigns the top object's color to any parts of the original object that are darker than that color. Lighter parts of the original object are left unaffected, creating a brighter overall appearance. The Lighten function can be used to create professional-looking blending effects that work well as a background for text.

Create the objects that you want to blend together.

Click on the object that you want to blend with and press “Ctrl-Shift-]” to place it on the topmost layer of your artboard.

Click on the “Transparency” tab with the object still selected to bring up blend mode options for that object. Select “Lighten” from the drop-down menu, and then use the “Opacity” menu to select an opacity value for the object. The higher the opacity of the blend object, the lighter the final blended area will be. The object changes automatically.

Click and drag the blend object to move it over the top of the base object. The Lighten effect takes place where the two objects overlap.


Illustrator allows you to select all objects in a project that use the same blend mode. To do this, first select an object that uses the blend mode you want. Click on the “Select” menu option and then choose “Blend Mode” from the “Same” submenu.


Information in this article applies to Adobe Illustrator CC. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.