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In this chapter, I'll take you on an absolutely blissful tour of one of the most impressive features in all of Illustrator. I know, I'm always saying that kind of stuff, but you're going to like this. The feature in question goes by the name Gradient Mesh, and it allows you to add points of shadow and highlight inside a single path outline. So that you can take an otherwise-flat shape, and make it appear contoured and volumetric and just-plain, full-on real. Now you can think of Gradient Mesh as a kind-of net that you cast around a path outline.
In which case, at the intersection of any two ropes in that net, there exists an Anchor point. You can of course move the Anchor point around to any location you like, but you can also assign that point a color. And then Illustrator creates a series of miniature gradients between every single pair of colorful Anchor points. Look at me. No, I'm serious. Just for a second, look at me. Now, look at these flat almost cartoonish looking path outlines, which thanks to Gradient Mesh, we're going to turn into this dramatic, dimensional final piece of art.
Now, look at me again. You can't, can you? Gradient Mesh, it's so much better.
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