Can You Use Hex Codes in Illustrator? [Here’s How]

For decades, Adobe Illustrator TM has been the go-to resource for users of all skill levels, ranging from professional graphic designers to students. With its dazzling array of vector graphics tools, Illustrator is the world’s premium platform for creation, design, and editing. It also provides a vital linkage to websites and content that is digitally displayed and an important aspect of this is color coordination.

With hex codes being the standard color format for popular programming languages like HTML and CSS, support for this system in Illustrator is an absolute necessity. Can you use hex codes in Illustrator? Absolutely, and here are the steps you need to know to make it happen.

Can You Use Hex Codes in Illustrator? Here’s How

The human eye can distinguish between approximately one million different colors and modern computer screens can display many times that, so precise color coordination in any type of visual project is crucial toward achieving the desired level of impact, particularly if the content is to be consumed through digital channels.

Illustrator supports the use of hex codes in the creation, design, and editing of art files, thus empowering users to seamlessly transition their work from a computer to its final destination. Here’s how to use hex codes in Illustrator, starting with the color picker feature.

Using Illustrator’s Color Picker

Illustrator’s Color Picker is a dashboard that is specially enhanced for selecting colors with pinpoint specificity. Among the available formats are the usual cast of characters such as the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) and RGB (Red, Green, and Black) color schemes

At the bottom of the panel, however, in a rather nondescript box tucked between the CMYK and RGB values, is where the hex code for any selected color is displayed. Follow these simple steps to check the hex code for any selected color using Illustrator’s Color Picker:

  • The Color Picker can be accessed from either the Color panel or the Tools panel
  • Double-click either the Fill color selection box or the Stroke color selection box
  • Both of these boxes are located on the left side of the panel (the Fill color box overlaps the Stroke color box)

Once the Color Picker has been opened, there are several ways to view a particular color and its corresponding hex code. From the large color field on the left side of the panel, simply clicking on a color target will reveal its hex code. Similarly, the slider tool can be used to manipulate the color spectrum to narrow down color choices and hex codes will be displayed here as well.

Choosing Hex Codes From the Color Panel

Hex codes in Illustrator can also be viewed for any displayed color from the Color panel itself without having to navigate to the Color Picker. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Color panel from the Window tab on the top menu bar
  2. From the Color panel open the side menu (click on the button with the three horizontal lines)
  3. Select either the “RGB” or the “Web Safe RGB” color schemes
  4. The corresponding sliders for either color system will populate the panel (i.e., a slider for R – red, G – green, and B – blue)
  5. At the bottom of the panel in a white rectangular box will be displayed the hex code for whatever color is selected

It should be noted that the hex code box will not appear in the panel unless either the “RGB” or “Web Safe RGB” option is selected. This is because the hex code color system is also structured on combinations of red, green, and blue, as base primary colors. In fact, the six digits in a hex code consist of three two-digit groupings and each pairing corresponds to varying hues of red, green, and blue.

The first two digits in a hex code correspond to red, the next two to green, and the last two to blue. By utilizing a unique alphanumeric character system (0 through 9 followed by A through F), 256 values can be expressed using only two digits. Thus, the hex code color system allows for 256 (red) x 256 (green) x 256 (blue) possible combinations resulting in a mind-boggling 16,277,216 colors.

Manually Inputting a Hex Code in Illustrator

Aside from selecting a color and viewing its corresponding hex code, Illustrator also enables users to input a hex code value and view the resulting color. Especially for users who are familiar with the hex code system and able to manipulate the red, green, and blue values to hone down a color selection to the exact hue, this method is invaluable.

These are the steps to manually input a hex code in Illustrator:

  1. With a document open, access the Color panel from the Window tab (or press the F6 button)
  2. Open the Color Picker tool by double-clicking on the Fill or Stroke color boxes
  3. Double-click inside the hex code box at the bottom of the Color Picker dashboard
  4. You can now type in the six-digit hex code for the color you are specifying
  5. The corresponding color will be displayed once you click “OK”

Because Illustrator is a versatile graphic design platform that is used to create documents for print, the web, and other means of consuming visual content, built-in support of hex color codes is critical. Being able to manually input hex codes is a particularly valuable feature when color coordination between different viewing platforms is necessary.

This important function ensures color fidelity whether Illustrator is used to create a graphics file that will be passed down the line to final delivery or serve as the final editing stop before publishing.


Color schemes can make or break the impact of visual content regardless of where it is displayed or how it is consumed. The hex code system is a widely used color scheme, particularly where digital files created with HTML or CSS are concerned.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that Adobe Illustrator, the premier graphic design program and the gold standard in creative platforms, enables users to view hex codes for the colors in their files and input hex colors of their choosing.