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(Gradient) Mesh Tool In Adobe Illustrator Tutorial For Color Designs Beginner's Guide

By Andrew Buckle, Video Tutorial Creator / Designer

Updated : 2021

gradient mesh tool tutorial for Adobe Illustrator sphere


How to use the (gradient) mesh tool in Adobe Illustrator.


The mesh tool in Adobe Illustrator can be found in the Illustrator toolbar. The mesh tool can be used to add mesh node points and color to a selected path. The mesh tool can add nodes once or multiple times to a path. You can change the color of the mesh tool node in Adobe Illustrator via the color panel. You can also move the node point which in turn distorts the Illustrator mesh. The mesh nodes in Adobe Illustrator can also be deleted using the mesh tool in Adobe Illustrator. You can also use the gradient mesh command in the object menu of Illustrator to add the mesh nodes. The mesh nodes can be added as rows and columns as well as the highlight being flat and to the center and to the edge. The mesh tool can then manipulate those mesh nodes. You can also use images with the gradient mesh tool to create unusual blurry vector images based on the mesh. You can do the same with rasterized gradients.


You can then re-color all the mesh tool nodes in Adobe Illustrator using the powerful color guide. This tutorial shows the mesh tool and how to add the mesh nodes. This tutorial shows you how to color the mesh and warp the selected path. The mesh tutorial also shows the gradient mesh command and how that can be used with images and color guide in Adobe Illustrator. The mesh tool can be found in the toolbar of Illustrator. Meshes can also be created via the gradient mesh command found in the object menu in Adobe Illustrator

  1. Select a path in Adobe Illustrator

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

  3. Click anywhere on the path

  4. Set the color of the node

  5. Click somewhere else on the path

  6. Change the color of the node

  7. Repeat with other nodes (you can see the result on the left)

Mesh tool warping - use the Illustrator mesh tool to warp paths in 1000s of ways

mesh tool warping in gradient Illustrator

You can also use the same tool to warp the path with the mesh tool in Adobe Illustrator.

  1. select a path

  2. select the mesh tool

  3. drag the point (don't change the color)

  4. go to another node and drag

  5. go to the another node of the mesh tool path


Works better with the edges of the path with the mesh added but it can also be effective with the inner parts of the mesh in Adobe Illustrator


Gradient mesh command via the object menu

You can also add a mesh using the gradient mesh in Adobe Illustrator.

  1. select path

  2. go to the object menu

  3. create gradient mesh command

  4. set the rows and columns

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

  6. Use highlight option with the latter two settings


The result of the gradient mesh in Adobe Illustrator is much the same as the mesh tool but instead of manually editing the path, you can add the mesh in seconds with the gradient mesh. The gradient mesh can also be edited by the mesh tool to change the colors and positions of the nodes in Adobe Illustrator


Images and gradient meshes - you can add mesh effects to images to create wow images

mesh tool image in Adobe Illustrator

You can also use the gradient mesh command with images and you can then generate a mesh based on the underlying colors of the image.

  1. Select image

  2. Object menu

  3. Gradient mesh

  4. Set to 10 rows and 10 columns etc

  5. Ok

The result is now an Illustrator mesh. The mesh can be modified by the mesh tool such as changing the color and also the position of the nodes (such as warping the mesh image)

  1. Select mesh / image

  2. Mesh tool

  3. Select a node

  4. Drag (and re-color if required)

Gradient meshes and color guide - you can re-color the mesh in 1000s of ways

color mesh tool with color guide in Adobe Illustrator

You can also use the generated Illustrator mesh from the mesh tool with the color guide (as well as the gradient mesh)


  1. select path

  2. generate nodes using mesh tool from toolbar

  3. change color

  4. repeat

  5. select entire path

  6. color guide panel

  7. click the edit color button at bottom

  8. change active colors

  9. click randomly change color order button in color guide

You can then generate all kinds of color designs from the same mesh (image or standard paths)