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Creating gradients with the Gradient panel

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Creating gradients with the Gradient panel

Let's take a moment to talk about Fills inside of Illustrator. Now we've already had some experience in applying the first type of Fill, a solid color. We know there are three kinds of solid colors that we can apply inside of Illustrator, something called the Process Color, a Global Process Color or a Spot Color. Let's now take a look at the second kind of Fill that you can apply inside of Illustrator, something called a Gradient. A Gradient is a single swatch that's made up of multiple solid colors.

Creating gradients with the Gradient panel

Let's take a moment to talk about Fills inside of Illustrator. Now we've already had some experience in applying the first type of Fill, a solid color. We know there are three kinds of solid colors that we can apply inside of Illustrator, something called the Process Color, a Global Process Color or a Spot Color. Let's now take a look at the second kind of Fill that you can apply inside of Illustrator, something called a Gradient. A Gradient is a single swatch that's made up of multiple solid colors.

The most common use is when you want to blend one color smoothly into another color. For example, at the top of this document right here I have this rectangle. It starts out with black on the left and then slowly fades to white on the right side. We call this a Gradient Fill. We can control gradients through the Gradient panel, which appears right here, and the first thing to know about Gradients is that for Illustrator there are two basic kinds. A Linear Gradient travels in a straight line. It goes from one color all the way to another color.

The other type of Gradient, which you can see right over here, is something called a Radial Gradient. In fact, these flowers over here have Radial Gradients applied to them, where the first color starts in the center of the object and then radiates outwards towards a second color. I'll select this object here at the top. We'll just deal with some black and white colors right now to get a better understanding of how gradients work, and then we'll move on to more complex areas where we can start to add multiple colors to our Gradients.

So let's take a look at the Gradient panel itself. Notice, at the top here, I have the ability to choose between a Radial or a Linear Gradient. To start with, we'll deal specifically with Linear Gradients. I have the ability to change the angle of that line. You see right now the gradient starts here and travels directly here, but if I wanted to, I could change the angle so the gradient starts at the bottom and then travels upwards. So I'll type in, for example, 90 degrees here, hit the Tab key to accept that value, and you can see now the black is at the bottom of the shape and then goes to white at the top of the shape.

You can change it to any value you want, anywhere from 0 to 360, and if you want it to travel in the opposite direction, you could also just type in -90, and it will flip that gradient upside down. But for now I'm going to leave the angle set to zero, so we could better understand how the colors actually blend between each other. This icon right over here allows you to flip the colors. You see right now in the Gradient, I am starting with one color here and finishing with another color here. If I click on this button, it completely reverses it. It takes whatever color was here and moves it here and whatever color was here and moves it here.

I'm going to switch it back to the way it was before. And let's take a look at this slider itself. We call this the Gradient slider. It's basically an indicator of what my gradient is going to look like. Underneath the slider, in this example, are two little boxes, and we call these Colors Stops. This first Color Stop is colored black. This one over here is colored white. These Color Stops determine what colors appear inside of my gradient. I can click and drag on these colors stops and noticed that right now a Location value becomes active that tells me exactly where that Gradient Stop is on the Gradient slider.

You can also see that because my object has been selected here, I'm also modifying the way the Gradient appears inside of this object. All this means right now is that the gradient goes from black to white over here, and then at this point to the end of the object, it just is completely white. I'm going to move this slider to all the way back where it was, because as you can see, when I move this slider, this little diamond shape in the top always appears in the middle. This is what we call our Midpoint Indicator. It tells us the exact point of my gradient where one color meets the other color.

It's exactly the middle where I basically have 50% of each value. I can modify that. For example, if I really wanted this Gradient to be much lighter, I want it to start out really strong in the dark side but then slowly, slowly fade out towards white, I could move this Midpoint Indicator to the left and notice that right now, it's kind of heavier over here on this side, but then it takes a lot longer to fade to white all the way on this side here. Notice that right now, it's selected, so I could use that same Location value to reset it back exactly to 50%.

Now, one of the things that you can also do with Gradient Stops or Colors Stops inside of Illustrator is when you click on them to select them, you could set their Opacity value. This is the color itself inside of the gradient. So if I wanted to partially see through that part of the gradient, I can adjust its Opacity level just for this Color Stop. Finally, if I want to save this Gradient, I could take his icon right here and click and drag it into my Swatches panel to save it as a Gradient. I can double-click on it to give it a name, call it mynewgradient.

And you notice that over here on the pop -up list it shows me all the gradients that I currently have saved in my file, and the one that I just saved right now, mynewgradient, is here, which I can easily apply to new objects. Now in this example right here, we've been working with a gradient that starts from black and goes to white, very simple, very basic. But of course, you can change the colors, and you can add additional colors as well. Let's say, for example, I wanted this gradient to go from blue to red. Well, there are several ways to do that. One way is to come to the Swatches panel.

Take the color that you want to use, in this case here, CMYK blue, and click and drag it directly onto a Color Stop. That changes that Color Stop's color and uses the swatch that you specified. As an example, if I would have a swatch that's currently set right now for a Global Process Color or a Spot Color, I would be able to add the color to the gradient in this way. Another way to add colors to gradients is to actually double-click on the Color Stop itself. This brings up the Color panel, where I could actually change some of the sliders here and adjust the values, or I can click on this icon right here to change to Swatches and choose the color that I'm looking for.

Once I'm done, I'll just click off of it, and now I've made a change to that Gradient. If I want to add additional colors to my Gradient, all I need to do is just click in any blank area here underneath the Gradient slider. Doing so now adds a new Color Stop, which I can now double-click on, change its color, and now I have a gradient that contains multiple colors. Each pair of Color Stops has its own Midpoint Indicator, so I can make adjustments any way that I want inside of the gradient.

Remember though, if I want to reuse this gradients for other objects, I probably should save it as a Swatch, and I can do that easily by just taking the icon and dragging it into the Swatches panel. In fact, one of the benefits of using Global Process Colors is that if I use a Global Process Color inside of a Gradient, by modifying the Global Process Swatch itself, my gradient automatically updates as well. So we know how Linear Gradients work. Let's take a quick look at how Radial Gradients work. If I click on this shape right here, I can see that right now I have a Radial Gradient applied to that object.

It starts with one color over here and ends with this color here, and you can see the Midpoint Indicator is skewed slightly here towards the right. Basically, Radial Gradients work in the same way, with one exception. There's now a setting here that's available, which allows me to stretch, or change the Aspect Ratio of that circle. I don't mean this shape itself that I've applied the gradient to. I mean the way in which the gradient itself radiates out from the center. For example, right now it's set to 100%, but if I change this to a really small value, like maybe 20%, you can see that the gradient kind of has an oval type of appearance rather than a perfect circle appearance.

So when working with Radial Gradients, I can also control this basic shape in the gradient itself. I'm going to return it back here to 100%, the way that it was before, and that's a quick understanding of what the Linear and Radial Gradients can do inside of Illustrator.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 82880 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
      31s
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
      55s
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye
      42s

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