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How to use the blend tool in Illustrator

How to use the blend tool to blend objects (paths) in Illustrator. The blend tool in Illustrator can be used to blend two (or more) paths / objects in Illustrator CC CS6 CS5 etc and is found via the Illustrator toolbar.

Blend tool and Illustrator / blend paths

how to use blend tool for Illustrator tutorial
  1. To blend between Illustrator paths / objects, create some paths or use existing paths

  2. Go to the blend tool in the toolbar of Illustrator

  3. Select paths (though not required)

  4. Click center points or segments or points of those paths to generate the blend between the paths

The blend tool has a number of settings such as spacing and smooth colors. You can blend standard paths, strokes, and other objects in Illustrator. The blend tool is a live tool and can be modified and updated at any point. The blended paths can be used to create interesting 3D like effects, frame designs, grid designs, line designs etc. You can modify the spline of the blend of the paths as well as replace the spline with other paths. The blend tool can be used to create super colorful designs in Illustrator.

Examples of blends in Illustrator

blend tool smooth between pathsblend tool spine curvedspiral tool replaceedit spinemultiple pathsframe designtype blend

You don't have to use just two paths, you can blend multiple paths with the Illustrator blend tool

blend tool multiple paths illustrator
  1. Create a number of paths (more than 2)

  2. Select the blend tool in the toolbar

  3. Click on path 1

  4. Click on path 2

  5. Click on path 3

  6. Click on path 4 etc

This can be repeated with a number of paths (though I have no idea if there are a limit to the connected / blended paths)

A guide to the blend tool settings in Illustrator such as the number of steps as well as blend combinations

settings for the blend tool
  1. Double click the blend tool

  2. Set the spacing method

  3. Set to specified steps

  4. Set the number of steps

  5. Set orientation (to path etc)

  6. Set preview to ON

Double click the Illustrator blend tool in the toolbar. You can set the settings before you create the blend or at any time afterwards for a particular blend combination as it is a live effect. You will see only a couple of settings such as smooth color and specified steps and the number of steps and specified distance and the distance as well as align to the page and align to the path. Personally, I generally use the number of steps but specified distance is great if you want to create a blend with paths added say every 10pt or 100pt etc. The smooth color is probably the easiest but least useful (for me) tool but say you have a blue circle and a red circle blend then then blend is between blue to red which can be useful in all kinds of smooth colorful designs such as creating highlights for a sphere design etc.

 

The key thing to remember the blend is always live and can be changed at any point

You can also change the paths such as change the color and shape of the paths in the blend

blend tool and direct selection tool illustrator change blend

Once you have applied the blend, you can still alter the paths involved in the blend such as changing the shape of the paths or perhaps changing the color of the paths and that can be done by selecting the path using the direct selection tool and then changing the color or shape etc for that path or perhaps removing or adding points etc.

  1. Create a blend using the blend tool

  2. Go to the direct selection tool

  3. Select the first or second etc path in the blend

  4. Change the color via the toolbar fill color (or stroke)

  5. Go to the object menu and transform and rotate etc (to rotate one of the blend paths)

  6. Add a point to one of the paths by using the pen tool

  7. Use the direct selection tool and manipulate the new point or others in the first path

You will now notice that the blend will change as you change the color and also the points etc

The blend tool is live and you can change the spine of the blend in seconds

spine blend tool illustrator

There is also a blend tool path / spine (not the paths used in the blend but the line between the paths) and you can also use the direct selection tool to select that spine path and then shift the spine path and distort the spine from the initial straight line. You can also then use tools such as curvature tool or use the anchor point tool to manipulate that blend spine. You can then use it to create some truly unique blend paths with the blend tool and it is still all live and the steps and smooth color etc can still be changed in Illustrator.

  1. Create a blend using the blend tool between two paths

  2. Select the blend

  3. Go to the add anchor point tool and add a point in the center of the blend to the spine that runs between the first path and second

  4. Use the direct selection tool to select that center point of the blend (select only that point, not the end points)

  5. Drag point to re-align the spine and blends

  6. Go to the curvature tool and double click the center point (to turn it into a smooth point)

  7. Manipulate the blend further with the curvature tool such as changing the curve or adding new points etc

Blend tool in Illustrator menu commands - you can find related blend commands in the object menu

blend tool menu command

There are also a number of blend tool Illustrator menu commands which can be found via the object menu and blend

  1. Select Illustrator path / object

  2. Go to object menu

  3. Blend

  4. Use one of the following

They are all super useful. The replace spine is probably the most useful with the Illustrator blend tool and to use that select the blend as well as another path such as a spiral open path and then go to the replace spine command and then the blend will be attached to a spiral etc. Or select the blend and select a circle (closed path) and then use the replace spine and you will end up with the blend around a circle which is great for creating all kinds of circular frames etc. The "reverse spine" command swaps the spine around so if you have a red large path at the start of the blend a small blue path at the end, use the reverse spine and the small blue path will be at start of the spine. The "release" command just removes the blend - which is the least useful feature perhaps as you can always just undo or delete the blend (but the release just leaves you with the original paths). Expand - expands the blend tool to normal paths

Other tutorials

1. blob tool and amazing blob brush designs in Illustrator

Sources and references

1. Blend objects in Illustrator on Adobe

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Updated: September 2017