How to use gradient mesh in Illustrator tutorial

How to use the gradient mesh command (found in the object menu) of Illustrator CC 2018 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 etc. The tool can be used with paths as well as images etc

Gradient mesh command in Illustrator

how to use gradient mesh in Illustrator tutorial
  1. Select Illustrator path / object

  2. Object menu

  3. Create gradient mesh command

  4. Set the rows and columns for the Illustrator gradient mesh

  5. Set the appearance such as flat and to center and to edge

  6. Use highlight option with the latter two settings

  7. OK

The result of the gradient mesh in Illustrator is much the same as the related tool but instead of manually editing the path, you can add the nodes in seconds and with a more consistent layout.

 

videoVideo tutorial on subject from graphicxtras.com (youtube)

 

Options : There are very few options with the Illustrator gradient mesh, simply set the number of rows and columns you want to create as well as set the appearance and highlight. You can set a large number of rows and very few columns or vica versa and you can also set the rows and columns to the same value. You can very few rows and columns as well as many rows and columns though the more rows and columns you have the harder it is to color easily and the color is then very localized. If you have very few rows and coluns then the color is spread over a wider area

 

Direct selection tool : The generated artwork can be edited by the direct selection tool. De-select all the artwork and then use the direct selection tool to select a number of nodes. Once you have selected them, you can set the color as well as move the nodes (and much more)

 

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Use with paths : You can use the tool with standard paths so select a rectangle or star or a more abstract vector design and then apply the command.

 

If you use a very basic shape with the Illustrator gradient mesh such as a rectangle then the result will a grid of nodes.

 

Create a circle and use the command the result is a spherical grid.

 

Highlights : If you add a highlight then the middle of the image will be highlighted. If you go for no highlight then the entire generated art will be a solid color.

 

Selecting nodes : Any of those individual nodes can be selected using the direct selection tool (as well as others) and the color of the individual nodes can be changed as well as shifted.

 

More complex paths : The result with unusual paths is generally more of a mess than with a circle or rectangle though,. If you select a very abstract path, you will probably notice many different fragmented color shifts (especially if you use the highlight). You cannot expand the result though.

 

Turn into a symbol : You can save the Illustrator gradient mesh artwork to the symbols panel and then use the tool with the symbol sprayer to create very dramatic designs / backgrounds / frames etc. You can also save the artwork to the CC libraries and then use the work in Photoshop etc.

 

Use with images : You can also use the Illustrator gradient mesh with images and the results will be a vector based on the underlying colors in the image. The more rows and columns added, the closer the vector will look to the original image. The result is still pretty blurry though. You can, as with a normal path, also use the color guide and the color adjustments in the edit menu to modify the entire color of the converted image or perhaps only some nodes (you can select parts of the art by using the direct selection tool)

 

Use effects to warp the nodes : You can use a number of other tools to distort and warp the nodes such as the wrinkle tool, warp tool, twirl tool etc You can warp and distort all the nodes or if you select some nodes with the direct selection tool, only those nodes will be warped and twirled. The colors of the path will not be changed but the structure will be totally changed.

 

Envelopes : The object menu and envelopes can also be used to transform the artwork in totally unique ways.

 

Saving the work : Once you have generated your design then you can save the artwork as a symbol as mentioned before but you can also store the artwork in the CC libraries (find via the window menu). Once you have added the artwork to the CC library, the artwork is then available to AI as well as Photoshop and Adobe After Effects and Indesign etc (though you will not be able to manipulate the nodes). You can also save the artwork to an AI file via the file save command. You can also use the same command to save it as a PDF vector file as well as a SVG file. You can also use the file export command and export the colorful artwork as a PNG file or PSD etc

 

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