Illustrator’s Isolate Blending feature

01 Nov 2012
  • posted by Veerle Pieters

In my previous Illustrator tutorial, I explained the Knockout Group feature. Today I'll explain the Isolate Blending option which is also located in the Transparency panel.

What is this?

With the Isolate Blending option you can limit the effect of an object’s blend mode to other objects that are part of the same group. So this helps you create blending effects between specific objects instead of the entire document. This feature comes in handy when objects overlap each other and you would like to keep the result. Especially with layer modes such as Multiply where the colors become way darker as soon as you place the object over a dark background, compared to for example a white background.

The result when placing the object on a different background.

In my example above the colored paths each have their own blend mode and opacity value. Some of them have Overlay applied, others have the Darken blend mode. The end result on a white background is what I would like to keep, but as soon as I add a dark background, the blend modes applied to each of the paths is adjusted to that background. To prevent this from happening, we'll use this Isolate Blending feature.

How to apply this?

The result when applying the Isolate Blending option to the group

First group the paths together, then check the Isolate Blending option.

After you have applied the different blend modes to the separate paths, you group them. Then you go to the Transparency panel and check the Isolate Blending option. This will limit the blend mode effect to the paths that are part of the grouped object. So only objects within this group will blend with each other.

Good to know…

  • Additionally the group itself can also have a blend mode and opacity value applied.
  • Blending works best in RGB mode. When working in CMYK the result can be totally different.
  • Using both the Isolate Blending and Knockout Group option can result in nothing happening as one cancels out the other.