Imagine you designed something that looks good, really good, but somehow it is not quite “there” yet?
Chances are that you are missing some pretty gradients to spice things up!
Gradients will bring life to your designs and make them unique!
But what are gradients exactly and how do you use them in Illustrator?
Gradients are used to create color blends, add light and shadow effects, and for adding volume to vector objects.
The Gradient panel, the Gradient tool, or the Control panel are used to create, apply, and modify a gradient using.
There are three types of gradients that you can create: Linear, Radial, and Freeform.
Linear type is used to blend colors from one point to another in a straight line.
Radial type is used to blend colors from one point to another point in a circular pattern.
Freeform type is used to blend color stops within a shape in an ordered or random sequence such that the blending appears smooth and natural.
Now, without further ado, let’s get straight into it. After completing the below tutorial you will surely be a gradient master!
How to Use Linear type of Gradients in Illustrator – Quick Guide
Choose Rectangle Tool and create a rectangle. While the rectangle is being selected, open the Gradient Panel from Window > Gradient. Click on the Gradient box to apply it to the rectangle. In the drop-down menu choose “Linear” as a type of gradient. Use sliders to adjust the look of the gradient.
Linear type is a simple gradient from one end to another. It is used to blend colors from one point to another in a straight line.
How to Use Linear type of Gradients in Illustrator – Step-by-step Guide
Create a New File in Adobe Illustrator. To start, create a new document by clicking on the “Create New” button, on the top left side of your screen. The window “New Document” will pop up, feel free to choose any size of the canvas. In this tutorial, 1920x1080px dimensions of canvas is used. Here is one handy shortcut for creating a new file: CTR+N (Windows) or Command + N (MAC). Set your document name, set chosen “Width”, and do the same for “Height”. Click on “Create”, and let’s begin.
Access to Gradient panel. The Gradient panel is located on the right side of the screen, if it’s not there, you can access it by choosing “Window” > “Gradient”. Also, you can use the shortcut “Ctrl+F9” or Command + F9 (MAC). By default, the gradient will be displayed black and white in the gradient bar.
Creating an object. To use this tool, an object needs to be created. Choose the “Rectangle Tool” on the right tool palette, and create a simple square, it should be a basic color. Make it black and remove the stroke. Now, when an object is created, focus can be shifted to the main tool of the tutorial, “Gradient Tool”.
Gradient use. Before using this tool, make sure that the chosen object for graduation is selected. To apply a gradient on the object, click on the Gradient or Gradient slider on the Gradient bar. It will be applied automatically and you can see the gradient on the object. Make sure that the “Linear” Gradient is selected. Now, after working with default gradients, it is time to check the rest of the options.
Changing the look of Gradient. The first and easiest thing that needs to be changed is color. For this, you need to go back to the “Gradient Bar”. On the slider, you can find the small circles on both ends of the slider, they are called Color stops. They are points on the gradient where the color is defined and where you can change the color by double-clicking on the color stop at the bottom of the sliding bar.
The small window will pop up and you will see the two options available for choosing the color. The first option is the most flexible because you can use the RGB spectrum.
The second option is the Swatches in which are shown Illustrator default colors. The third option is a Color Picker which can be used to pick out any color within the document. Choose the color for each Color stop.
By clicking and dragging the color stop left and right, adjust the starting and the ending point to change the look and smoothness of the gradient. Also, you can adjust the midpoint on top of the sliding bar, it is represented as a diamond icon.
Adding and deleting the Color Stops on the Gradient. By clicking below the Gradient slider bar, you will be able to add Color stops and change the color as in previous steps. In this way, you can add as many colors as you need and it will be automatically shown on the object.
If you are not satisfied with the color or think that there are too many colors, you can always delete the color points. To delete, select the color point that you want to remove and simply click on the “Delete Stop” button, it is represented as a trash can. The second way to remove the Color stop is to click on the stop and drag it downwards until it disappears.
Adjusting the angle of the Gradient. There are two ways to adjust the angles of gradient on your object. The first one is by choosing a value in the Angle box, for example, an angle of 45° will be automatically applied and visible on your object.
The second way of adjusting the gradient is to use the drop-down menu. Next to the Angle box, you will find an arrow, by clicking on it, the drop-down menu will appear. Predefined values will be shown and you just need to choose the preferred one. It is as simple as that.
Adjusting the opacity of a color stop. For adjusting, the color stop has to be selected. The Opacity box is located below the Gradient Slider. By clicking on the arrow next to the opacity box, the drop-down menu will be shown, choose the predefined value and the gradient opacity will be automatically applied to the object.
If you are not satisfied with the defined opacity value, you can enter the number into the box, for example, to 73%. Use the same method to change the opacity of the remaining color stops.
Changing the Gradient type. You can change the gradient type for any gradient you apply. At the top of the Gradient bar, you can choose the gradient type, from linear to radial or freeform. Find the “Type” box and the arrow for the drop-down menu is placed next to it. By clicking on the arrow, the menu will be shown, and you will be able to choose the Gradient type.
How to use a Radial type of Gradient in Illustrator – Quick Guide
Choose the Ellipse Tool and create a circle. While the circle is being selected, open the Gradient Panel from Window > Gradient. Click on the Gradient box to apply it to the circle. In the drop-down menu choose “Radial” as a type of gradient. Use sliders to adjust the look of the gradient.
Radial type is used to blend colors from one point to another point in a circular pattern.
How to use a Radial type of Gradient in Illustrator – Step-by-Step
Create an object. The first thing that should be done is to create a new object. To compare all gradients, create the second object, next to the rectangle. Choose the “Ellipse tool” on the right tool palette, and create a simple circle, it should be a basic color. Make it black and remove the stroke.
Adding and deleting the Color Stops on the Gradient. Select the object and on the “Gradient bar” choose the “Radial Gradient”, or press “L” on your keyboard. It will be applied automatically and you can see the radial gradient on the object. This step is the same as it is for Linear Gradient.
Adding stops by clicking below the Gradient slider and changing the color. The number of color stops isn’t limited and they will be automatically shown on the object. Deleting the color points, just select unwanted ones, and simply click on the “Delete Stop” button or drag it downwards until it disappears.
Moving and Adjusting Radial Gradient. In this type of Gradient, the most interesting thing is happening when you use the Gradient Annotator, it will appear by clicking on “Edit Gradient” on the “Gradient Bar”. With this, you can change the size, form of gradient and move the center around.
On the left side of the Gradient Annotator, you can change the size of the gradient or just click and drag. Changing the form is similar to changing the size, and also, there is a drop-down menu for changing the form.
How to use a Freeform type of Gradient in Illustrator – Quick Guide
Create a Christmas tree with the Pencil Tool. Select the object, open the Gradient Panel from Window > Gradient. Click on the Gradient box, apply it to the object. In the drop-down menu choose the “Freeform” type of gradient. Use sliders and stops to adjust the look of the gradient.
Freeform type is used to blend color stops within a shape in an ordered or random sequence such that the blending appears smooth and natural. It can be applied in two modes: Lines and Points.
In the Lines mode, you will select if you want to create color stops over a line segment in the object and to shade the area around a line.
When this type of gradient is used, after clicking on the Freeform button on the Gradient bar, a series of color stops will appear in the selected object.
The number and color of those color stops depend on the artwork in your document. For each stop, you can change color and place, or if there are too many stops you can always delete them. If there is a lack of color stops, you can add new ones.
In the Points mode, you will select if you want to create color stops as independent points in the object and to shade the area around a color stop.
How to use the Lines mode of Freeform type in Illustrator – Step-by-step Guide
Creating Gradient Lines
Adding stops in Lines mode. Create a Christmas tree, on which you will apply this mode. Choose the “Pencil Tool” or the “Paintbrush Tool” on the right tool palette, and create a Christmas tool, it should be a basic color. Make it black and remove the stroke. In the Properties panel, select the “Lines Option.”
Drawing Lines, Creating Points, and Changing the Color. Click in the selected object to set a point and begin drawing the line.
You need to create the starting point for the line segment, therefore click anywhere in the object to create the first color stop. The next step is to create the next color stop.
After creating the second stop, a straight line will connect the first and the second color stops. To create further color stops, click again.
The straight line will change into a curved line. Continue clicking to finish the path. To stop drawing press Esc on your keyboard.
You can create multiple individual line segments in an object. To edit the color of points, double-click on any of the stops on the path, and a panel with several color options will appear. Choose the color and it will automatically be applied to the object.
Adding, Deleting, and Moving Color stops. You are able to add color stops on existing line gradients, by clicking on the line. You are able to delete color points in a few ways.
Selecting the point that needs to be removed, then press Delete or Backspace on the keyboard and the point will be automatically removed from the line.
Another way is to drag the color point outside the object area or click “Delete Stop” in the “Gradient Bar”. To change the position of a point, just drag and place it at the desired location.
The line segment also shrinks or expands when you change the position of a color stop. The position of other color stops remains unchanged.
How to use the Points mode of Freeform type in Illustrator – Step-by-step Guide
Editing the color stops
Create an object. Create the third object, for example, a Christmas tree. Make it black and remove the stroke. Select the Christmas tree and choose the “Freeform Gradient” on the “Gradient bar”. In the selected object, a series of color stops will appear.
Changing the color of the Color stop. It is easy and simple. Choose the color stop, double-click on it and several color options will appear in a panel.
Click on the preferred color and it will automatically be applied to the object.
There is another way to change the color, as mentioned in previous steps, and that is to select the color stop and click the Fill color in the Properties panel and choose the color.
You can change the color of more than one color stop at a time. Shift-click the color stops you wish to edit, then click the Fill color in the Properties panel and adjust the color for all of them.
Adding, Deleting, and Movin Color Stops. You can add more stops, by clicking within the bounds of the selected artwork or by clicking below the Gradient slider bar, you will be able to add Color stops and change the color.
You can add as many colors as you need and it will be automatically shown on the object. If you are not satisfied with color stops, you are able to remove them. Select the color point and either press Backspace or Delete on your keyboard.
Also, you can click on the “Delete Stop” button in the “Gradient bar”, which is represented as a trash can.
The simplest way to remove the Color stop is to select the stop and to drag it downwards until it disappears.
After adding all the stops, and you think that one of them isn’t in the right place, you can move it.
Changing the position of the color stop can’t be easier. Press and drag the chosen color stop to the desired place in the object.
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