Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a gradient mesh, part of Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Mastery.
In this movie, I'll show you how to create a gradient mesh. So here's the final version of the peppers that we're going to create, just so you can see them on screen. And if I click on this forward path outline, you can see the mesh, wherein every single point represents a unique color. I'll go ahead and switch over to our base document here. And if you turn on the base paths layer, you'll see that I've gone ahead and draw nine paths in advance, mostly with the pen tool. And then, if you turn that one off, and turn on mesh peppers, you'll see that I've already assigned gradient meshes to the right hand pepper.
Because otherwise, we'd end up with a lot of duplication of information, we are going to assign gradient meshes to the paths associated with the left hand pepper, which is going to be more than enough work for us. All right, I'll go ahead and zoom in on the peppers here, to 200% just so I can see them big on screen. And I'll go scroll them up so I can see the entire path at a time. And then finally, I'll select this forward path that we want to fill with the gradient mesh. Now, there's three ways to create a gradient mesh in Illustrator, and I'll be demonstrating all of them. And I just want you to know up front, if you only have a gradient assigned to your object, then you can convert it to a gradient mesh by going up to the Object menu, and choosing the Expand command.
So that's one way to work. Another way is to drop down here to the mesh tool, which has a keyboard shortcut of U, and then you can just click somewhere on the outline of the path in order to add a perpendicular line to your mesh. And so, I could add a series of lines if I wanted to, and then, after that, you can click on one of these existing lines, add a perpendicular line to it. So, I'm basically divvying up this object into a series of rows and columns. All right. I'll press Ctrl Z, or Cmd Z on the Mac as many times as it takes to get back to the original object so we can see the third way to create a gradient mesh, which is possibly the most obvious as well.
You go up to the Object menu, and you choose Create Gradient Mesh, and that brings up this dialog box right here. Now, you want to turn on the Preview check box so you can see what you're doing. By default, Illustrator wants to divide your object into four rows and four columns, so that is to say three row lines, and 3 column lines as well. I'm going to go ahead and take those values up to 6 each, and notice you can nudge these values from the keyboard by pressing the up and down arrow keys. And you can go as high as you want. For example, now we're seeing 9 columns.
The problem with this configuration Is that every single column is the same width, and when representing a volumetric object, you really want more column lines around the outside, so that you have more control over those highlights as they decline away. So I'm going to take the columns value down to 6, and manually add and delete rows and columns inside the next movie. Notice that by default appearance is set to flat that means nothing is going on with the coloring. Every single one of the points is the exact same color as you used to fill the object in the first place.
Alternatively, you can add a highlight either in the center like so, or you can add it around the outer edge. I'm going to set this guide to center and then I'm going to take the highlight value down from 100%, which is going to be white, down to let's say 65%, which will give me some highlight in the center but not as much as I had before, and then I'll click Okay in order to accept that effect. Now you may notice if you press Ctrl H or Cmd H on a Mac that we've lost our stroke and actually we've lost both the fill and the stroke.
Strange as that sounds. In order to see waht I mean, switch over to the appearance panel, which you can also get to by choosing appearance from the window menu. And notice that we've got a mesh with mesh points, but we don't have any fill or stroke attributes. To regain the stroke, drop down to the Add New Stroke icon in the bottom left corner of the appearance panel and click on it, and notice that adds a stroke as well as a none fill, which you could go ahead and change if you wanted to do. I could change that guy say to blue, and that's going to end up covering up my mesh points, unless I were to drag it down to below the mesh points, in which case the mesh points would cover it up. So in other words, we don't need that fill.
It's not doing us any good, so I'll just go ahead and switch it back to none regardless of its placement in the stack. And that folks, is how you create a new gradient mesh here inside Illustrator.
- Setting up angular construction guides
- Kerning and clipping hand-drawn type
- Creating and naming symbols
- Using symbols to simulate master pages
- Creating a gradient mesh
- Using gradients to cast shadows
- Fading artwork with a gradient opacity mask
- Warping and distorting artwork with Liquify and Envelope
- Assembling a seamless pattern brush
- Creating charts and pictographs
- Working in 3D space
Skill Level Advanced
Q: In the "Assigning colors to mesh points" lesson, I cannot pick up the color of the visible tracing/photograph layer with the Eyedropper tool. What am I missing?
A: Make sure the template file is embedded in your file, not just linked, and try to sample the color again.