How to Make the Background Transparent in Illustrator

Now you see it, now you don't.
Ash Ash (341)
3 minutes

By default, Illustrator creates a solid white artboard in the background. This is helpful when creating artwork so you can see better, but you might not want it there when it's time to save the file. This guide will cover what you need to do in order to have a transparent background in Illustrator.

Adobe IllustratorAdobe Illustrator ×1

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Adobe Illustrator New File

Start a new file in Illustrator by clicking Create new… on the main menu. Alternatively, you can open an existing file to edit in a transparent background. You can drag and drop the file onto the workspace or use the File > Open menu.

Adobe Illustrator Transparency Grid

To remove the default white artboard, enable the transparency grid. You can find this setting under the View tab at the top. Select Show Transparency Grid.

You will know it's working when the background appears as a white and gray grid.

Adobe Illustrator Transparent Image

Now that you have a transparent background, you can create a design. The final result will have a transparent background if saved to an appropriate file type.

If you are editing an existing AI file, the transparent background should be visible where the artboard previously was.

Adobe Illustrator Save File

When your design is complete, save the changes with an appropriate file type so the transparency stays in the final product. You can save the image using the File > Export As... menu.

There are several file types that retain transparency. A few used by Illustrator are:

  • PNG
  • SVG
  • TIFF

If you need to create something that scales, like a logo or graphic, then you'll want to make sure you use vectors. If you're a developer, then we can even show you how to optimize the SVG file to make it smaller.

There's more than one way to draw a cat.
Ash Ash (341)

Drawing in Illustrator is a broad concept. There are so many tools available that you can use to create graphics, the best we can do is recommend a few basic ones to help you get started.