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Creating and editing gradients

From: Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

Video: Creating and editing gradients

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.

Creating and editing gradients

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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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS6 Essential Training
Illustrator CS6 Essential Training

116 video lessons · 71159 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 15s
    1. What is Illustrator?
      1m 15s
  2. 2m 17s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
  3. 41m 25s
    1. Understanding vector graphics
      5m 0s
    2. Setting preferences
      9m 24s
    3. Touring the interface
      9m 41s
    4. Exploring the panels
      6m 54s
    5. Working with the Control panel
      4m 25s
    6. Creating and saving workspaces
      6m 1s
  4. 43m 42s
    1. Creating files for print
      4m 42s
    2. Creating files for the web
      3m 36s
    3. Managing multiple documents
      3m 25s
    4. Navigating within a document
      5m 21s
    5. Using rulers, guides, and grids
      6m 59s
    6. Changing units of measurement
      1m 50s
    7. Using preview modes
      3m 10s
    8. Creating and using custom views
      3m 12s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 43s
    10. Creating and using artboards
      7m 44s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. Setting your selection preferences
      5m 57s
    2. Using the Direct Selection and Group Selection tools
      4m 6s
    3. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 45s
    4. Using the Lasso tool
      4m 9s
    5. Selecting objects by attribute
      6m 48s
    6. Grouping objects
      3m 7s
    7. Using isolation mode
      4m 48s
    8. Resizing your artwork
      3m 55s
    9. Rotating objects
      2m 10s
    10. Distorting and transforming objects
      6m 26s
    11. Repeating transformations
      5m 6s
    12. Reflecting and skewing objects
      4m 54s
    13. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 38s
  6. 29m 27s
    1. RGB vs. CMYK
      1m 46s
    2. Adjusting Illustrator color settings
      5m 10s
    3. Process vs. global swatches
      5m 6s
    4. Creating spot colors
      3m 40s
    5. Using the swatch groups
      2m 33s
    6. Working with color libraries
      3m 17s
    7. Importing swatches
      4m 4s
    8. Using the Color Guide panel
      3m 51s
  7. 57m 36s
    1. Understanding fills and strokes
      4m 18s
    2. Working with fills
      4m 58s
    3. Working with strokes
      8m 46s
    4. Creating dashes and arrows
      8m 1s
    5. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 3s
    6. Using width profiles
      3m 31s
    7. Outlining strokes
      3m 51s
    8. Creating and editing gradients
      5m 45s
    9. Applying gradients to strokes
      3m 8s
    10. Applying and editing pattern fills
      4m 52s
    11. Creating your own pattern fill
      6m 23s
  8. 20m 20s
    1. Understanding paths
      2m 41s
    2. Understanding anchor points
      4m 20s
    3. Working with open and closed paths
      5m 28s
    4. Joining and averaging paths
      4m 9s
    5. Using the Scissors tool and the Knife tool
      3m 42s
  9. 37m 56s
    1. Understanding drawing modes
      4m 23s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 15s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      4m 11s
    4. Working with the Shape Builder tool
      6m 32s
    5. Working with the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      5m 26s
    6. Working with the Paintbrush and Pencil tools
      7m 8s
    7. Smoothing and erasing paths
      5m 1s
  10. 35m 53s
    1. Exploring the Pen tool
      2m 39s
    2. Drawing straight lines
      5m 12s
    3. Drawing simple curves
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding the many faces of the Pen tool
      6m 10s
    5. Converting corners and curves
      1m 46s
    6. Your keyboard is your friend
      2m 14s
    7. Tracing artwork with the Pen tool
      12m 29s
  11. 35m 33s
    1. Adjusting your type settings
      4m 10s
    2. Creating point and area text
      3m 36s
    3. Basic text editing
      2m 14s
    4. Creating threaded text
      4m 59s
    5. Using the type panels
      9m 48s
    6. Creating text on a path
      5m 11s
    7. Converting text into paths
      1m 43s
    8. Saving time with keyboard shortcuts
      3m 52s
  12. 27m 25s
    1. Exploring the Appearance panel
      4m 44s
    2. Explaining attribute stacking order
      1m 40s
    3. Applying multiple fills
      3m 1s
    4. Applying multiple strokes
      4m 20s
    5. Adjusting appearance with live effects
      4m 46s
    6. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      8m 54s
  13. 20m 44s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 18s
    2. Creating and editing layers
      3m 27s
    3. Targeting objects in the Layers panel
      3m 3s
    4. Working with sublayers
      3m 0s
    5. Hiding, locking, and deleting layers
      4m 14s
    6. Using the Layers panel menu
      2m 42s
  14. 46m 0s
    1. Placing images into Illustrator
      2m 53s
    2. Working with the Links panel
      6m 5s
    3. Embedding images into Illustrator
      3m 12s
    4. Cropping images with a mask
      5m 8s
    5. Exploring the Image Trace panel
      12m 14s
    6. Tracing photographs
      8m 6s
    7. Tracing line art
      4m 33s
    8. Converting pixels to paths
      3m 49s
  15. 19m 21s
    1. What are symbols?
      2m 45s
    2. Using prebuilt symbols
      3m 3s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      4m 19s
    4. Creating new symbols
      3m 50s
    5. Breaking the symbol link
      3m 19s
    6. Redefining symbols
      2m 5s
  16. 12m 9s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      4m 29s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      3m 49s
    3. Applying artwork to the grid
      3m 51s
  17. 35m 7s
    1. Printing your artwork
      6m 16s
    2. Saving your artwork
      2m 2s
    3. Saving in legacy formats
      3m 0s
    4. Saving templates
      4m 18s
    5. Creating PDF files
      5m 23s
    6. Saving for the web
      4m 46s
    7. Creating high-res bitmap images
      3m 58s
    8. Using Illustrator files in Photoshop and InDesign
      5m 24s
  18. 56s
    1. Next steps
      56s

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