How to create sea waves in Illustrator tutorial

How to create / make a sea waves design in Illustrator using the mesh tool tutorial . The sea wave design can be created by using the Illustrator mesh tool in CC 2018 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 etc.

Create sea waves

sea waves create how to make in Illustrator using gradient meshes
  1. Create a long rectangle (for start point of sea waves)

  2. Select the mesh tool in the toolbar of Illustrator

  3. Click somewhere along the top of the rectangle

  4. Set the color to a light blue and then drag the point upwards

  5. Go to another point along the top of the rectangle and click and drag downwards to create a basic wave and then set the color of the point to a slightly different blue

  6. Repeat somewhere else but upwards (perhaps varying the height)

  7. Repeat a couple of times to create a wavy top full of light blues


The mesh tool can be added to any path such as an rectangle. You can then re-color each of the gradient mesh tool points by adding different blues to the top line of the rectangle in Illustrator. The mesh tool path can then be duplicated using the alt / option key and then the Illustrator mesh can be shifted and re-sized (to create larger sea waves as well as smaller sea waves in Illustrator) and the waves / node points can be moved up and down by using the mesh tool.

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You can then re-color the Illustrator mesh using the color guide tool as well as color adjustment tools in Illustrator. The sea wave design can be modified in 1000s of ways to create many variant sea designs. The sea wave / Illustrator meshes can be saved to the CC library (and results can be used in other parts of the creative cloud). This tutorial shows the steps to add the mesh tool / nodes to a basic path and then re-color those mesh nodes. The tutorial shows how to create multiple gradient meshes and re-size and stretch the designs and modify the nodes positions. The tutorial also shows how to use the color guide to re-color all the sea wave meshes to create unusual color landscapes in seconds. Great for all kinds of super sea wave designs.

First sea wave in Illustrator

single sea wave using gradient mesh in Illustrator

Create the first sea wave as above. You can add all kinds of variations to the wave such as changing the colors of the gradient meshes, perhaps darker blues. You can also squeeze the gradient mesh sea wave or stretch the sea wave. You can rotate the artwork and much more. It is a single mesh at this point. A good thing to do is perhaps save it to the CC library (it can always then be re-used at a later point). You can add as many waves as you wish (by adding as many points along the top of the rectangle)

Multiple sea waves using multiple gradient meshes in Illustrator

mesh tool sea wave re-colored in Illustrator

It would be a very depressing sea image if there was only one wave


  1. Drag the wave to the 'horizon' (wherever you want that on the artboard)

  2. Re-size the vertical as required by using the selection tool and the bottom edge

  3. Alt / option and create another wave

  4. Re-size that wave by re-sizing the bottom

  5. Also stretch horizontally as well as shift and move it downwards (towards the 'coast' or camera)

  6. Alt / option and repeat the same action of stretching the vertical to control the height of the wave and stretch to control the frequency of the wave


You can also then select the entire selection or individual 'mesh waves' and re-color them using the color guide or use the color adjustments. You can also re-color them by using the mesh tool and selecting the individual nodes and re-coloring them via the color panel


You can also then select the individual 'gradient' mesh waves and re-stretch them to create a variety of unique sea wave combinations in Illustrator

Sea waves and variants of the gradient meshes

more surreal sea wave dark sea design in Illustrator using meshes

You can also take the sea waves collection of 'gradient' mesh paths and hold the alt / option key to duplicate them to create a more complex sea wave.


You can also use the color guide panel to create a more unusual and surreal sea wave by changing the color from blues to reds and greens or purples and pinks etc (perhaps useful for hillsides instead)

Other resources

1. Surface pattern artworks

Other tutorials

1. How to use the bristle brush to create amazing painted artworks in Illustrator


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