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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
Illustration by John Hersey

Applying gradients


From:

Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Applying gradients

Okay, so what I'm going to do now is I'm going to add some gradients to this artwork to give it a little bit more depth. Now I'm in the gradients.ai file, which you can find in the coloring artwork folder. And I've selected his shirt here because I'm going to start by coloring this shirt. Now it's just colored flat red at the moment, but if I want to, I can apply a gradient. And I like to use a starting point of using the Swatches libraries to provide me with a simple gradient to start with. So I'm going to click on the Wing menu of the Swatches panel and that will give me access to the Swatch library.

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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
Subjects:
3D + Animation Design Illustration Character Animation video2brain
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Angie Taylor

Applying gradients

Okay, so what I'm going to do now is I'm going to add some gradients to this artwork to give it a little bit more depth. Now I'm in the gradients.ai file, which you can find in the coloring artwork folder. And I've selected his shirt here because I'm going to start by coloring this shirt. Now it's just colored flat red at the moment, but if I want to, I can apply a gradient. And I like to use a starting point of using the Swatches libraries to provide me with a simple gradient to start with. So I'm going to click on the Wing menu of the Swatches panel and that will give me access to the Swatch library.

And in there, there's a huge selection of gradients that you can choose from. And I'm going to start by selecting Skin tones. And you'll see here, there are lots of skin tones that I can apply to my character. So, if I select his arm for example, I can apply a skin tone to that, making it seem to fade up and as it comes out of his shirt. I'm going to undo that for now, and I'm going to go back to the red t-shirt for now. And let's have a look for something else for the red t-shirt. Now, in my Swatches panel, I've already opened up a few swatches that we can start with, gradient swatches. So, I've got simple tints, bright colors.

Let's see, color combinations, color harmonies. There's all sorts of lovely swatches that you can use as starting points for your design. I'm going to choose something simple like this one here, which is a simple red to orange fade, which is what I want. Now, if I want to edit that, there's a couple of ways of doing it. I can open up the Gradients panel, and in here, I have control over how that gradient is distributed across the artwork. And you'll notice, as I drag these little sliders, it adjusts how the colors combine together and how the gradient works.

Now the first thing that I could do is start changing the colors. So if I go to my Swatches panel and I want this to be a more vibrant orange, I can drag my orange swatch onto there and that updates with the new color. And I much prefer that orange, much brighter result. I can also change the Gradient type from Linear to Radial. And the Radial gradient allows me to do things like change the height as well. So if I change the height to 50, then I can get a reduced height of my gradient.

I'm actually going to put that up to 120 so it stretches a bit higher. And I'm quite happy with that. I'm going to leave that as it is. Now I'm also going to create gradients for the arms as I said using the skin tones. So what I'm going to do is start off with one of these. Let's start off with that one. And I actually want something a little bit warmer. these skin tones are a little cool for my liking. Now I can double-click these and just adjust them. So I could just give it a little bit more warmth by increasing the red and decreasing the blue. I could do the same here or I could just get rid of that center color just by dragging it off to the end here.

And then double-click this and maybe choose a different color. Now, I could continue using the RGB palette, or I can just use my tints here and choose another tint to drag onto there. Okay, once I have the color combination I like, I might want to make that a little bit more yellow actually, so let's just add a little bit more yellow to that, make it a bit creamier. And once I'm happy with that, then I can save that as a new swatch. So I can drag that into my Swatches panel from the Gradient panel, and now that appears as an editable gradient.

So now I can select my second layer, which is this one here, and I can apply this gradient to that layer. Now you'll notice it doesn't quite line up correctly. The gradient doesn't match. I can choose to use the Rotation settings in here to experiment until I get it right. So I find that a value of about minus 50 matches the gradient so that we don't see any joint between the two body parts. But you can also use the Gradient tool to do this. And you'll notice there's my rotation.

And if you want to do this manually using this tool, you just need to move until you see this icon, the Rotation icon, and then you can drag it around. You can also scale it and do lots of other fancy things with it, move it around, scale it and rotate it. So that's the Gradient tool. Now what I want to do now is create other skin tones for here so let's choose that arm and lets just choose the same gradient again. And I think that's fine so I'm going to leave it.

I might reverse it actually, another way of reversing it is to just simply swap these around so you can create a reverse spindle in that way and it's a little bit of a cheat's way of doing it. But again, I can also use this if I want to rotate it slightly, change the angle of the gradient. So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to choose the head, and with the head I'm going to create a skin tone gradient so we'll choose the same colors. But what I want to do is this time what I want to do is see if I can create some hair at the top. So I'm going to rotate this by 90 degrees.

Okay, and I'm doing it numerically there because I find that just a little bit easier than rotating it with the Gradient tool. And then I'm going to drag this color swatch in and you'll see that as I do, I get another color swatch appearing here. And that allows me to add a third color. Now I'm going to give for him very bright yellow hair. Some I'm going to start just by dragging a yellow swatch on here, which is a little bit too bright. And then what I'm going to do is just double-click that. And that allows me to edit the color. Let's just make it a little bit darker, and a little bit brighter.

Okay, so say that's the color I want. Now, the only thing is you can see that our gradient is the wrong way around, so I can just do that to minus 90, and I know it'll be the right way around. And all I need to do now is just adjust my settings here so that the yellow is only at the very top, where his hair is. Now, that's using a linear gradient. I could, if I wanted to, choose a radial gradient and again, I need to reverse that. So, what I'm going to do is, just click on Reverse gradient which is much easier than dragging these around, as you'll see.

That just reverses the gradient for me, so it's yellow on the outside. Now if I select the Gradient tool, you can see that when you have a radial gradient, it's denoted by the circle here, as you would expect. And you can make this bigger or smaller. So what I'm going to do is make this a bit bigger, and we'll also make it bigger on the x-axis as well. And then what I can do is I can just drag it down so that only the top of his head is yellow. Okay, we've got a little too much there. We've got the ears coming in as well, but I can control how much just by adjusting the gradient here or adjusting the gradient here using my controls.

So, a lot of control over gradients. The other thing I might want to do is just swap these two colors. So I might bring that color to there and that color to there. Okay, so we've got the lighter color in the middle of his head, then the darker color and at the edge, the very edge, we've got some yellow for his hair. So we start to get really nice effects from that. Now, obviously, I would edit that a little bit more, but here you can see how we can get some nice yellow hair. With a kind of tanned face, which is a bit lighter in the middle, giving this a little bit more depth. So, that's a little bit about the Gradient tools and you can use them to add depth to your characters.

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