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Gradient fills inside of Illustrator are a great way to add some simulated depth and texture to your designs. In this movie, I'll focus on creating and editing your own gradient swatches here inside of Illustrator. But first let's take a look at how we actually apply a gradient swatch. As you can see, I've got this background of this wallpaper design that I'm working on, and I want to add a little bit of depth to it by using a gradient. In order to add a gradient fill, it's actually pretty simple. I'm going to make sure that I have the object selected, and then I'll come over and make sure I'm targeting the fill.
Once I have the fill targeted, the easiest way to add a gradient would simply to be click the gradient swatch right there. Once I click it, you'll see that it automatically goes to the white-to-black gradient. But that's not exactly the color I'm looking for; it doesn't match my blue theme. So let's drag out the Gradient panel. Once I have the Gradient panel out, you can see here that I can make several different changes to the gradient. The Type; I can pick between Linear and Radial. Linear means it goes sideways from one side to the other, one color fades into the other.
A Radial gradient means it's circular. It originates from a center point and goes outward, one color to another. In this case, I think I want to work with a Radial gradient. Once I have the Radial gradient applied, you'll see it. In this case, it almost looks like a spotlight or something like that. Right here you can also click and you can pick between the default gradients that are available to you in Illustrator, Fade to Black, Super Soft Black Vignette, Green, Yellow and Orange. Then you can also pick between the Purple Radial gradient.
The best gradients are the ones that you create yourself and you can get really creative with these things. You can also change the Angle of the gradient right here, but for a Radial gradient, generally 0 works pretty good. You can also change the Aspect Ratio of the circle. I'll show you what this means by changing it. Let's go to 400%. See how the circle got larger? If I take it down to 20%, the circle gets very narrow. So let's go ahead and keep that right at 100%. Directly underneath those controls, you have what's called the Gradient slider.
The Gradient slider contains these two pin-like objects called Stops, and you can add as many gradient stops along the way as you want. So what I'm going to do is actually add some new gradient stops to this to add a nice background to my design. I have a couple of swatches over in my Swatches panel, one called Dark Blue and one called Light Blue, and I'm just going to take these colors and replace the existing colors in the gradient. I want the light blue to be on the inside and the dark blue to be on the outside. So I take the Light Blue color, click, and I just drag it over and drop it onto the white stop.
When I let go, it pops in. The Dark Blue swatch, I'll take that, click and drag it over to the black swatch. When I let it go, it pops right in. Now if you can't tell the difference between the light and dark swatches, that's okay. You can always adjust them. Like right here for instance, I can come to this stop, let's say I wanted it to be a little lighter, I can double- click it and I get a little color picker. I can then increase the R value a little bit to lighten it up, or maybe even lighten up the green portions as well.
Once I get it like a like it, I can just click away from it and it automatically changes. If I want to darken up the blue color, double -click, maybe I'll just richen up the blue. Again, this is personal choice and personal taste. Click away from it. Now let's say I wanted something in the middle, kind of like a medium stop. I'll click to add that and it actually adds a stop that corresponds to whatever color I clicked on right there, and I can make an adjustment here. I can double-click it, let's say I want at this point to be lighter, I can make it lighter or a different color. It doesn't matter.
I'll brighten that up just a little bit, like so. Click that. If you need to get rid of a stop, just click it and drag it away and it disappears. If you want to move these stops, it's really easy to do that as well. Click and drag to the left making the blue sort of overpower the light blue, or you can drag that back out. If I want to expand the circle, let's drag this a little bit more to the right. You can see it gets brighter in the center. There we go! Once I have this, I have my new gradient right here in my fill.
If I want to add this as a swatch, I could just click and drag it over to my Swatches panel and drop it in. If I want to name that swatch, I can double-click on it and I can call this Wallpaper Background. I can then save that out as an .ase file or Adobe Swatch Exchange file, and that way I can use it in other applications or another Illustrator document. Once I'm finished editing my gradient, I can click away and save my work, or I can simply continue working.
Creating gradients in Illustrator is relatively easy. In addition to the gradients that you create inside of Illustrator, you also have access to a wide variety of gradient libraries as well. In order to access the gradient libraries inside of Illustrator, simply go down to the little Library icon in the Swatches panel and find the Gradients section. Once you do that, you'll see things like Brights, Color Combinations, Color Harmonies, Earthtones, Fruits and Vegetables, Gems and Jewels, and Metals, Neutrals, all kinds of stuff. So take some time and go through these and apply them to your artwork and see exactly how they look and if you like them.
If you do, add them to your Swatches panel and you can continue to use them throughout your entire design. As we're seeing with this design I'm working on here, I've taken just a regular blue background and turned it into something that adds a little bit of depth and also some texture as well. It's very easy to take your basic design and make it extraordinary, simply by adding one of these gradient swatches.
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