Designs Dissected: Gradient Studies | Advanced Graphic Effects in Adobe Illustrator | Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand | Skillshare

Designs Dissected: Gradient Studies | Advanced Graphic Effects in Adobe Illustrator

Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand, Graphic Design & Photography

Designs Dissected: Gradient Studies | Advanced Graphic Effects in Adobe Illustrator

Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand, Graphic Design & Photography

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7 Lessons (55m)
    • 1. Introduction & Class Overview

      2:03
    • 2. Custom Colourful Fading-Out Effects

      10:33
    • 3. Translucency & Dimension Using Blur

      10:34
    • 4. Dimensional Elements Using Stroke Gradients

      11:06
    • 5. Organic Colouring by Layering & Blending

      8:30
    • 6. Playful Colouring & 3D Look

      9:44
    • 7. Final Thoughts & Conclusion

      2:36
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About This Class

Get an insight into how I create my gradient designs & learn how to smartly combine familiar tools in Adobe Illustrator to create exciting complex illustrations, artworks and designs more efficiently.

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More often than not even the most complex-looking gradient-based designs made in Illustrator are quite easy to create, and you can get impressive results by using a clever combination of Illustrator’s basic tools and looking beyond their obvious functionality.

I am Evgeniya Righini-Brand, a graphic designer at Attitude Creative and a gradient fanatic. I teach a popular Skillshare class on Mastering Gradients in Illustrator, and I have an ongoing Gradient Studies series, which is my personal pursuit exploring different techniques for creating vector gradient-based designs by exploiting the full potential of Illustrator’s tools.

I am often asked how I have created certain pieces in my Gradient Studies series, and in this class I am excited to dissect for you a selection of designs which feature some of my favourite tricks and techniques, and share a few tips and ideas for how you can use a combination of Illustrator’s tools in your future projects to create some exciting works easier and faster.

This class is designed for intermediate and advanced Adobe Illustrator users who know their way around the program well and are proficient users of Illustrator’s core tools and functionality, including:

  • Fill Gradients;
  • Stroke Gradients;
  • Clipping Masks;
  • Opacity Masks;
  • Blend Tool;
  • Gradient Meshes;
  • Appearance Attributes: Fill & Stroke Attributes, Blending Modes, Opacity;
  • Grain & Blur Effects;
  • working with Appearance panel.

Whether you are an illustrator, graphic artist or designer who needs to quickly visualise concepts to pitch ideas to clients or an in-house team, or create final works for print or digital use, I hope this class will spark some new visual ideas and help you create eye-catching designs more efficiently.

If you’d like to see me dissect any other of my gradient designs, all of which you can find in the projects on my Behance profile, please leave a comment with the design name and number on the Discussions board for this class, and I’ll be sure to consider it when making future classes.

Check our my complete Gradient Studies projects on Behance:

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Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand

Graphic Design & Photography

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NEW CLASS — Designs Dissected: Gradient Studies | Advanced Graphic Effects in Adobe Illustrator

Get an insight into how I create my gradient designs & learn how to smartly combine familiar tools in Adobe Illustrator to create exciting complex illustrations, artworks and designs more efficiently.

I am often asked how I have created certain pieces in my Gradient Studies series, and in this class I am excited to dissect for you a selection of designs which feature some of my favourite tricks and techniques, and share a few tips and ideas for how you can use a combination of Illustrator’s tools in your future projects to create some exciting works easier and faster.

Whether you are an illustrator, graphic artist or designer who needs to quickly ... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction & Class Overview : More often than not even the most complex-looking gradient-based designs in Illustrator are quite easy to create, and you can get impressive results by using a clever combination of Illustrator’s basic tools and looking beyond their obvious functionality. Hey guys, I am Evgeniya Righini-Brand, a graphic designer at Attitude Creative and a gradient fanatic. I teach a popular Skillshare class on Mastering Gradients in Illustrator, and have an ongoing Gradient Studies series, which is my personal pursuit exploring different techniques for creating vector gradient-based designs by exploiting the full potential of Illustrator’s tools. I am often asked how I have created certain pieces in my Gradient Studies series, and in this class I am excited to dissect for you a selection of designs which feature some of my favourite tricks and techniques, and share a few tips and ideas for how you can use a combination of Illustrator’s tools in your future projects to create exciting works easier and faster. This class is designed for intermediate and advanced Illustrator users who know their way around the program well and are proficient users of Illustrator’s core tools and functionality, including Clipping and Opacity Masks, Blend tool, Appearance attributes and Effects. Whether you are an illustrator, graphic artist or designer who needs to quickly visualise concepts to pitch ideas to clients or an in-house team, or create final works for print or digital use, I hope this class will spark some new visual ideas and help you create eye-catching designs more efficiently. So let’s dive right in! 2. Custom Colourful Fading-Out Effects: Vector graphics is often associated with hard contours, but in Illustrator you can create exciting fading-out effects or an ethereal look of colourful gradients with gradually changing levels of transparency, and seamlessly blend objects together or with the background, and both the objects and the way they fade out can be as complex or as simple as you wish! I love creating this effect in my work, so let’s have a look at how I have achieved it in this design without leaving Illustrator or using any filters. Because this design is quite simple, you might think that it is created using some kind of Blur effect. Well, no, it is not. All of the Blur effects in Illustrator make objects blur in a linear fashion, so they wouldn't allow to create even something as simple as this. So instead, to create this sort of effects and have more options to explore in terms of how the objects fade out you can use the Opacity Mask, which is a fantastic, even though a little bit fiddly tool. So here I have these two masked circles, let’s keep just one of them visible together with the background, and see what's what. So this is already an Opacity Mask. Let's quickly release it, and here it is. So these two objects are within my mask, and this is the actual mask itself. Let's hide it for now, and have a look at what was placed within the mask. So here I wanted to create this multi-directional gradient where the pink color would blend with the orange color and the both of them would also fade out into the white color. And to achieve this effect, I used two circles filled with basic Linear gradients. So the bottom gradient here is this Linear gradient from orange to pink to purple, and it doesn't really matter what's in here, because you can't see this area when the white gradient is on top. And here I have my second circle with the white fading-out gradient, which is a Linear gradient from this white transparent color stop to the white opaque color stop on the other side, and by putting it on top of the other gradient, it helps to blend everything together. Sometimes I create similar effects by applying fill gradients as multiple fill attributes to one object. But in this case, I just applied them to two separate objects, because this way I can very quickly work through the Layers panel and not worry about going to the Appearance panel every time I need to select one of the gradients. And because I am working with Linear gradients, I can very easily change the angle of the gradients. and the look of this shape will drastically change straightaway. And you might ask why I haven't used a Freeform gradient or a Gradient Mesh to create this effect, and that's precisely why. Because if I used the Gradient Mesh, of course, I could create the same sort of effect, but I wouldn't be able to easily change the look of the shape, for example, by rotating one of the circles or by changing the angle of the gradients. And if I used the Freeform Gradient, yes, again, I could achieve the same effect, but it would take much longer to get everything looking that smooth. So sometimes the most basic tools create the best results and are fastest to use. So this is what was placed within the mask. And the mask itself is this circle, which is exactly the same size as the other two, and it is put on top of them, and it is filled with white to black Radial gradient. And in this case, the white color stop is opaque, and the black is transparent. And to create a more interesting transition, I have also offset the Origin Point in this gradient, so the gradient is more opaque and more squashed on this side, and it is smoother and it fades out further on the other side. So let's apply it again as a mask, and let's go and have a look again at our mask gradient. So by offsetting the Origin Point I made this side fade out this way. And if I move it, you can see how it changes the whole look. And that's why using Opacity Masks is a really cool, and in comparison to the Blur effect, they allow so much room for experimentation and are also very quick to use. Also in this gradient, I have used a black transparent color stop. And this is a trick I often use when creating Opacity Masks because it allows to create smoother transitions. And if I set it to 100%, you can see that the transition is not as dramatic, so having this extra level of transparency in the gradient allows to create this fun fading out look. So this is our first mask. And the second masked circle is actually just a copy of the first one, and it is offset and rotated 180 degrees, so these two shapes layer and blend nicely together. And as for the remaining elements in this design, here I also have this line with a Radial Stroke gradient along stroke. And it's got just two color stops. And because it is set to the Radial type, it looks like a reflected gradient. And I used these purple color at the end, which is a similar color to the one found in the background, so this line sort of blends with the background, even though there are no transparency in it. Below all these elements, I have my text object. And because of the Opacity Masks, in some places you can see more of the letters and in some other areas they are almost totally hidden. But to bring the text out a little bit more, I usually add the copy of the same text object, put it above all other elements, and reduce its opacity to about 10 to 20 percent. This allows to make this text a little bit more visible, but still keep this nice translucent feel of the whole design. Whilst this looks quite nice, I always add some grain to my work, and in this case, the grain is contained on a separate layer. And it is applied to a rectangle which is covering my whole artboard, and this rectangle is filled with a gray color, its Blending Mode is set to Soft Light, Opacity to 35%, and as far as the Grain effect is concerned, it is set to Stippled Grain with Intensity is set to 20, and Contrast set to 50. And this is something I often use in my work and just play around with the Intensity, if I need to add more or less grain to my designs. And using Soft Light Blending Mode allows to blend grain with the design quite nicely, and I can control the intensity with the Opacity setting, and in most cases, I set it to 35% because it produces quite subtle, nice look or the grain. But if I wanted to make grain more pronounced, I could just increase the Opacity value, and there would be considerably more grain in my work. In some designs, it really works to add more grain and create a more particle look, but in this design 35% created the best result. So this is how by using Opacity Masks you can bring some translucency and an ethereal feel to your designs, and blend things together. And the cool thing about Opacity Masks is that you can put anything within your mask, and you can use anything as a mask, including basic Linear or Radial Fill gradients, Freeform gradients of any complexity, Stroke gradients, Gradient Meshes, Blends, you name it. So there are a lot of opportunities for creating elements with varying levels of transparency, from something pretty simple like I have shown you here, to more complex multi-element compositions with a number of masks. So keep Opacity Masks it in mind for when you want to create smooth fading-out gradients or seamlessly blend objects with each other. 3. Translucency & Dimension Using Blur: Whilst it is less than ideal to use the Blur effect to create fading out or spreading out gradients, the Blur effect has a lot of uses when working with gradient-based artworks. For example, you can use it to create silky smooth transitions when you cannot achieve this look any other way or if you want to just accentuate the smoothness to create a sort of metallic or liquid look. Or if you want to add some depth of field to your work. But another thing you can do with the Blur effect is to use it creatively to imitate translucent elements, for example, glass, plastic, water or ice, and particularly misty matte satinated glass, or privacy glass, which obscures the objects behind it. This allows to add a sense of volume to your work, create a layering effect and there are also a lot of opportunities to use this conceptually. For example, in this design I used the Blur effect to communicate a sense of privacy. But there is a little bit more to it than just blurring a part of an image, so let’s have a look at how this image is built. And let's start with the background, which in this case is a pretty straightforward Linear gradient rotated on an angle which covers the whole artboard format. And then I've got quite a few other elements here, and let's have a look at this Clipping group to begin with. So within this Clipping group, which is within a rectangle which covers half of my artboard, I've got a circle with a nice multi-color gradient and my text. In this case, this multi-color effect within the circle is achieved by using multiple fading-out gradient fills, which are all Radial gradients set to different colors and positioned differently within this circle. And together they create super smooth transitions, and there are a lot of ways of customizing this sort of gradients very, very quickly by changing the order of the Fill attributes in the Appearance panel, or by changing their Blending Modes. This is one of my favorite techniques dating back to the days before Freeform gradients existed, and this is how I originally created my multicolor non-linear gradients. Below this Clipping group I have this ellipse which creates a shadow underneath my circle. And this is something I really love to do in my work, just to add a little bit more dimension to it and make objects appear as if they are suspended or just resting on a surface and there is some light source. This particular shadow is created using this fading-out Radial gradient, with both color stops set to the same color, and this is one of the colors which is found in my design. When creating my designs I always try to use colors which can be found in my artwork to create some shading or highlights. And particularly, as far as the shading is concerned, I always strive to create colorful shadows, and I always avoid creating achromatic shadows, unless, of course I am working with some black and white design to begin with. So because of the colors used in this shadows and because it is a fading-out gradient, this is the main way it blends with the background. So the Blending Mode of this object is set to Normal, and it's set to 100% Opacity. Next, here I have another Clipping group, and that's where the fun begins. So this is another Clipping group with a Clipping Mask masking the other part of the design. And within this group, I have a copy of my circle, and below it I have a rectangle in the size of my artboard, which doesn't have any Fill or Stroke attributes. So, and this is the group to which I have applied the Gaussian Blur effect. In this case, the Gaussian Blur radius is set to 200 pixels. And the reason for having this extra rectangle below my object, which is supposed to be blurred, is that it allows to avoid some glitches with the Blur effect, which sometimes can create sort of hard edges and reach some sort of limit, because when the Blur effect is applied, it takes into account the original size of the object you are blurring. So having this empty space around my circle allows me to blur it as much as I want. Because my blurred circle is placed within a Clipping mask with hard edges, it straightaway creates an effect of having a matte translucent surface in front of this circle. Next, I have another Clipping group, and in this case, it contains my text which is blurred separately. The Gaussian Blur radius here is set to 40 pixels. And blurring the circle and the text separately allows to create even more depth within the work because it allows to imitate different depths of field by using different blur radius for different objects. The Opacity of this blurred text is set to 95%, which is exactly the same as the Opacity of my sharp text here. But whilst I really like the almost white look of the sharp text, I thought that for the sake of realism the blurred text needs to be a little bit darker. But instead of reducing the opacity of the blurred text, instead, I created a copy of my blurred circle, and placed it above my blurred text layer. And set the Opacity of this second Clip group to 50% here. So having an extra copy allows to hide the text a little bit more and it makes it appear as if it is behind this surface. It might seem like a lot of elements and that you could achieve similar effect just by reducing the opacity, but in reality, having extra copies allows more minute control over the look of each element. And it doesn't really increase time for creating these elements because they already exist, and you just need to copy them and play around with their Blending Modes and Opacity settings. To make this look even more like a separate sheet of glass, I decided that I need to add some extra gradient along this edge here. And I settled on creating a semi-circle like this, and filled it with a fading-out Radial gradient from this pink color, which can be found in this design, to this almost white color stop, which is set to 0% Opacity. The Blending Mode of this semi-circle is set to Soft Light, and that's what allows to create this highlight effect and seamlessly blend this gradient with the colors here. And by playing around with the Radial gradient and the position of this color stop, I could control how far this highlight spreads. In this case, I didn't go too far and decided to end it at the edge of the blurred shape, so it looks like this when it is applied. And it highlights this edge over the circle, and that's exactly the look I was after, as I didn't want to highlight the edge going from the top to the bottom of the artboard. Adding one semi-circle really helped to already highlight this shape. But I wanted to make it a little bit brighter, so I created a copy of this semi-circle and placed just above it, and set the Opacity to 50% whilst keeping the Blending Mode set to Soft Light. And together these two shapes create a more pronounced edge. And again, this is something I like to do in my work, instead of adjusting colors in all of the elements for an eternity. So to intensify, brighten or generally modify the colors I just create copies and play around with the Blending Modes and Opacity until I get the look I like. So these are the general design elements, and above all of them I have a separate layer with a rectangle with the Grain effect. This rectangle is filled with the standard gray swatch, its Blending Mode is set to Soft Light, and Opacity to 35%. And as far as the Grain intensity is concerned, in this case, it is set to 10 percent, which makes this grain a little bit more subtle. But other than that, again, the Contrast is set to 50%, and the Grain Type is set to Stippled. And you can see that when this grain is blended with this design, it makes it look even more like frosted matte glass in this area. You can combine this approach of using blurred elements within Clipping Masks with other objects, for example, some lines or thin Stroke gradients to highlight the edges, or some fading-out gradients to create a sense of shading. So there are a lot of different things you can do with the Gaussian Blur effect creatively, so keep it in mind and experiment with it to create effects of translucency and layering. 4. Dimensional Elements Using Stroke Gradients: Creating various gradients which follow the direction of the paths has never been easier, and one of my favourite tricks is using Stroke gradients with transparency to add a 3D feel to my work and create intricate 3d details which can follow paths of any complexity. For example, in this design I used a set of Stroke gradients to create an impression of having cuts in the colorful surface. So let's have a look at how I have created this effect. To begin with, I created this Freeform gradient, which serves as a background and covers the whole artboard format. After that, I created this line pattern to be used as a basis for the structure of the cuts in my design. And then I started to think how I could style all of these lines to make them look 3-dimensional and create an effect of shading underneath the lines and some highlights on top, to make it look as if the surface is a little bit at lifted up. So here is the group with all my styled paths. And each of these cuts is created exactly the same way, so let's have a look at this one here. For each cut I have used two copies of my original paths and styled them with Stroke gradients, so one of them would create a shading effect on one side of the line, and another would create a highlight on the other side. And I also placed the pair of these elements within an Opacity Mask to make this gradient blend with the background at the ends. So let's release this mask, and we’ll get back to it shortly. But first, let's have a look at how I have created this shadow and highlight effects. I started by creating the shading effect, and because I knew that my shadow needs to start from the path, I have set up this sort of Stroke gradient. So it is a Linear Stroke gradient across the stroke, and it starts from the middle or the slider. And half of it is totally transparent, and another half creates this fading-out effect. I often use this trick in my work to create predictable Stroke gradients, which I can use to add highlights or shading to the edges of any shapes, and because my gradient is set up this way, it will look exactly the same, whether it is applied to an open or a closed path. And it doesn't rely on using any of the Stroke settings, for example, like Stroke Alignment, which only works with closed paths. And it also offers a lot of room for experimentation with the Stroke Profiles. And whilst you can create this sort of effect by setting up a profile which would have no stroke on one side of the path, using this sort of gradient as a basis makes it so much easier to experiment with different Stroke Profiles and also the Width tool to setup shading or highlights in any shapes and create some exciting effects in your work, for example, like this. And it is considerably less fussy when you're just playing around with the Stroke Profile without worrying about what is happening on the other side, and just controlling this edge with the gradient. So this is a technique I often use in my work to create some fun shadows. But in this design, I wanted to have a very simple symmetrical shadow, so I just used this simple standard Stroke Profile, which tapers out at both ends. And to create this sort of gradient, the trick I use is that I have my opaque color stop and I have its transparent copy, and set the Location of both the transparent copy and the opaque color stop to exactly 50%, like this. To create this shading effect, the Blending Mode of this Stroke gradient is set to Multiply. And after I’d set up this shading gradient, I copied it, then flipped the gradient, and replaced the colors in the gradient with the white color to create the highlight effect. In this case, I set the Blending Mode of this gradient to Overlay. But when creating this sort of effects I often go through and check out Screen, Lighten, Soft Light and Overlay modes, and pick whichever one works best with the colors I'm working with. And other than that, structurally this gradient is just a reflected version of the one which creates shading. And again in the middle here I have a couple of color stops to create this edge here. After setting up these two gradients for this first element, I needed to apply the same gradients to the rest of the lines. And to make it easier and faster, I went ahead and created Graphic Styles: one based on the Stroke gradient used for shading, and the other one which creates highlights. And this is something I often do when I need to replicate the same styling of the elements within one document or across a number of designs. And after creating these Graphic Styles, I could apply them to any other element in just a couple of clicks. For example, like this or like this. And I could also apply both Graphic Styles to one element by merging them together when applying them, and then access these gradients via the Appearance panel. But in this design I decided to apply shading and highlights to two separate paths to make it easier to access the elements via the Layers panel, and adjust their Blending Modes in the Transparency panel. After creating these pairs of highlight and shading gradients, I wanted to take them a step further and make their ends blend better with the background. And for this, I copied these lines once again and applied this sort of Stroke gradient to each of them. So this is a Stroke gradient along stroke, which is set to Radial gradient which makes it reflected. And because I was planning to use it as an Opacity Mask, I set this color stop which colors both ends of my Stroke gradient to black. And I also set it to 0% Opacity to have more translucency in my gradient. And because it is another Stroke gradient, I set the Stroke Weight to exactly the same weight as the other two gradients, so when they are masked out they are totally covered. I applied the same gradient to copies of all of these lines. And then applied each of these gradients as Opacity Masks to their respective groups, which contain shading and highlights gradients. So all of these elements were created exactly the same way. And then I grouped them all together, and in this case, the Blending Mode of this group is set to Normal and Opacity is set to 100%. But grouping them together would allow me to explore other Blending Options if I wanted to. Although in this case, all of the blending is happening within the groups and is applied to individual elements only. Above all these elements I have my text object, which is set to 95% Opacity and it’s just placed over everything. In some cases when I'm creating this sort of designs which imply volume, I mask my whole text or individual letters to make it appear as if they are coming through the cuts. But in this case, I wanted to keep it simple and just placed the text on top. And on top of all these elements, I placed my grain layer, with a rectangle filled with this standard gray swatch. And I used my favorite subtle grain settings, with the Intensity set to 10, and the Opacity of the grainy rectangle set to 35%, and the Blending Mode set to Soft Light as usual. And when it is applied, these grain makes this design look more tangible and more graphic. Using fading-out Stroke gradients this way is really fun and easy, and in combination with Graphic Styles there is a ton of potential for very quick styling of different elements. All you need to do is draw some paths, style them, put them on top of some colourful background or an object, and blend them together. And you’ll get an impression of a some sort of 3D-looking shape. It can be as complex or as simple as you want, and you can highlight or shade the edges of any shape without resorting to using any other more laborious techniques for creating volume, such as Gradient Meshes or Freeform gradients. Using Stroke gradients across strokes you can make anything look 3-dimensional very quickly and easily, and together with the Stroke Profiles and the Width tool they can help define shapes and add details to your work in a lot of fun ways. 5. Organic Colouring by Layering & Blending: One of my favourite tricks for pushing gradients a little bit further in Illustrator is keeping the elements which define shapes and structure, and potentially shading, separately from the elements which are used for colouring. For example, I get a lot of questions about how I have created this design, because it looks like a Gradient Mesh, yet the colouring is not something that you would expect from one Gradient Mesh, but it is something that you might see in a Radial gradient, yet it is not a Radial gradient either. And neither it is a Freeform gradient. So what is it? Let’s have a look. Indeed, the bottom element in my document is this distorted Gradient Mesh which is pretty basic. I've used just a couple of colors in it, and pushed the points around to create this sort of fading-out flame shape I was after. So it is quite sharp on this side, but it fades out nicely on the other side. And after that, I started to think how I can make more fun coloring, because adding more color stops to this mesh wouldn't allow me to achieve this fun coloring effect I was after. So I started with adding this separate rectangle in a shape of my artboard, filled with this super subtle blue Radial gradient. And I set the Blending Mode of this object to Soft Light to modify the colors in my Gradient Mesh ever so slightly. And I often use this trick in my work because it allows to add some really fine adjustments to the colors without actually touching the Gradient Meshes, which you can change using, for example, the Recolor Artwork tool. But if it is something a little bit more complex, it could be more time-consuming and more difficult. So using a separate modifier layer like this makes it just a little bit easier to fine-tune the colors. After adding this rectangle I thought how I could distribute the colors in this shape. So first of all, I have added a circle which is filled with this pink or magenta fading-out Radial gradient. So both color stops are set to the same color and the one at the edge is set to 0% Opacity. And I have offset an Origin Point in this gradient just to make this gradient work a little bit better with this shape. So it is a little bit more squashed on this side, and is a little bit longer on this side, even though you can't really see it. And then I played around with different Blending Modes. In most cases, I settle on Overlay mode or Soft Light, but depending on colors I'm working with, I might also use Screen or Multiply mode. But in most cases, yes, I use Overlay mode because it allows to bring out bright colors in a nicer way. And when working this way, you can also use the Opacity setting to fine-tune the intensity of this color you're adding. So if you want to add a little softer coloring, you can turn down the opacity, for example, like this. And in this case, I wanted to use 100% opacity to make it bright. And because of how this gradient blends with the Gradient Mesh below it, you can straight away see this highlight here. And then there is this nice spread of colors into this darker color. Then I needed to add a little bit more coloring at the tip of my flame. And for this, I used another Radial gradient. In this case, it is actually contained within a large rectangle, because it just allows to move the Radial gradient within it and not worry about any edges. So in this case, it is a Radial gradient from this beigeish off white color, which is in the center of the gradient. Then there is this bright yellow color. And at the edge there's another bright yellow color stop, but again, the Opacity of this edge color stop is set to 0%. And that's what allows to blend this gradient with the gradients below it. And the actual Blending Mode of this object is set to Normal. So all blending is happening because of the transparency. In this gradient again I have this offset Origin Point, which allows to add this highlight here. And if I drag it here, you see how this gradient actually looks. But by moving it here, it creates this sort of glow effect. And it makes it look quite dynamic. And this is why I love using this sort of fading-out gradients, particularly Radial gradients, because they make it so easy to add additional spots of color. And of course you can distort them in any way, resize them, and place them in the desired spot. So there's a lot of room for experimentation. So this is the basis for this coloring effect. But here I also have an additional Radial gradient, which is a straightforward Radial fading-out gradient with two color stops set to the same color, and one at the edge again set to 0% Opacity. And the Blending Mode of this Radial gradient is set to Soft Light, which helps to tie all these colors together. And again, I have controlled the intensity with the Opacity settings which is set to 60%. So that's it for the actual shapes. And of course, on top of them, I have my text. And on top of all of this, I have my grain layer. The rectangle to which the Grain effect is applied to is set to this dark blue color. And in this case the grain is a little bit more intense. So the Intensity setting is set to 44, in comparison to my usual 10 or 20. And to make grain even more pronounced, I also have set the Opacity of this layer to 70%, which is again quite a bit higher than in my other designs. But you can see that by having this intense grain, this design starts to have this sort of particle look, which makes this shape look even more flame-like. And in this case, adding grain also helped to increase contrast in the overall design. And it also helped to tie all the colors together and create this finished look. And so this is how you can create some complex coloring effect by combining a number of different elements: some which define shape, and some which help to color different areas of your work in different ways. So I really encourage you to try playing with the shapes and colouring separately in your work and see what new fun and unique effects it will allow you to create! Using the same technique you can also add some lighting effects to your work, for example in a form of highlights. So there is plenty of room for experimentation, and you can also create something a little bit more fancy by adding fading-out Freeform gradients, if Radial gradients are just a little too straightforward! 6. Playful Colouring & 3D Look: Creating various designs or illustrations based on abstract or geometric shapes which have a 3D look to them is one of my favorite things to do in Illustrator. And it is much easier than it might seem! And in many cases, when you need to create something quickly and it is not something super complex in terms of its structure, it can be done in Illustrator instead of the 3D software, where you would need to set up shapes, lights, shading, materials and coloring. So if you want to create something quickly, which, for example, is done for print or for static digital use, or if you need to create a draft proposal which will then be taken into some other software and animated or recreated in 3D, you can do it in Illustrator, and it is really fast, fun, and easy! For example, this design has all these tubes here which have a 3D feel to them and this sort of organic coloring, which doesn't follow any linear pattern. So let's look at what kind of elements I used in this design. First of all, I worked on creating these tubes here. And this is how they looked to begin with. All of these tubes are Blends between pairs of circles filled with black to white Linear gradients. And each of these Blends follows a custom Spine. And to create these Spines I used the Pencil tool and very quickly drawn them and then arranging them into this pattern here. Because all these Blends follow custom Blend Spines and are based on circles filled with black to white Linear gradients, it allows to create this effect of shading. And I can control how the shading looks by simply changing the angle of the gradients forming the Blends. And to create this smooth look of these Blends in the Blend Options I used quite a high number of steps and set the Spacing method to Specified Steps here. So this is the basis for the tubes in my design, and it is what makes them look 3-dimensional. And after I have set up all of these Blends I started to think how I could color them in an interesting non-linear way. And for this first of all I have created this Freeform gradient within a rectangle which covers my whole artboard, which I was intending to use as a background to begin with, but also reuse it to color all of my elements. And to be able to apply my Freeform gradient to each of these Blends I kept the original Blends as a back-up, and created two copies of each Blend. In each pair of copies I kept one of the Blends as it was, and I took the second copy, expanded it, united all of the resulting shapes into one larger shape, and then used it as a Clipping Mask to contain a copy of my Freeform gradient. All of these colored tubes here are created using exactly the same principle. So let's just have a look at this one here. So here is a Clipping Path based on the shape which is formed by the Blend. And here is a Freeform gradient within it. And to create an exciting and dynamic coloring effect, I took the Freeform gradient and scaled, rotated and sometimes reflected this gradient, and positioned it within each mask. And when transforming this Freeform gradient, I paid attention to how the colors within the mask and the colors on the background work together. And I also made sure that there are no clashes of colors between different shapes in the places where they overlap. So this is how this coloring is created. And to make it 3-dimensional I used a copy of the original Blend, placed it above the respective Clipping group, and set the Blending Mode of this Blend to Overlay, which creates this sort of shading effect. Whilst so you can use other Blending Modes to achieve slightly different effects, I prefer using Overlay because it doesn't affect the hue of the colors and just only creates this sort of shading effect by making some areas lighter and some darker. And again, this is a similar approach, just slightly more complex because we are using Clipping Masks, to the one which I've shown you previously, because I am keeping my shading and shape separately from the objects which are used for coloring, and blending them together to achieve the desired effect. So all of these other tubes are created exactly the same way. And the Freeform gradient within each mask is positioned differently each time. And to create a more complex layering effect in a couple of cases I also copied the paths forming Clipping Masks and cut them out of each other to create additional Clipping Masks to put the whole shapes in to make them appear as if they are behind some of the objects, but in front of some other ones. For example, like here or here. Whilst you can create the objects which are used for coloring of all of the elements every time, reusing Freeform gradients is super fast and easy. And because the Freeform gradient by its nature is already quite complex, it allows to create a lot of variation within the design. And apart from rotating, scaling, reflecting and positioning the Freeform gradient within the Clipping Mask, if there is a need to make some minor adjustments to the gradient, you can always edit the color stops within it to create the desired spread of colors and make the coloring and layering effect even more exciting. I quite like this pretty simple 3D look, but when working on your designs, you can also consider adding some shading behind the shapes, or some highlights on top of them. So this is how this coloring is created. And to make it all look neat, all of these tubes are placed within one Clipping Mask in the size of my artboard. And above all of these elements, I also have my text object, which in this case is set to 90% Opacity to add more transparency to it and create a little bit more of a layering effect. And it is also placed within a Clipping Mask, again to make it appear as if it is behind one of the elements. But because of my general style of incorporating text in my designs, I have another copy of the full text, which is placed above all other elements. And its Opacity is set to 20%. So it makes it readable through this shape and again adds a little bit more transparency to this design. So these are all design elements. But as usual, I also have my separate grain layer here. And in this case the rectangle to which the Grain effect is applied to is filled with this gray color swatch. Its Blending Mode is set to Soft Light as usual, and its Opacity is set to 35%. And the Grain effect is set up in a similar fashion to my other designs with Intensity set to 10, Contrast set to 50, and Grain Type set to Stippled. And this subtle grain works really well with these light pastel colors in this design. So, this is how you can create this effect. And it allows you to create a lot of fun things and shapes, depending on what kind of elements you use in your Blends, how you shape your Blend Spines, and of course, the colors you use. And using the same technique, you can also color any objects created using Illustrator's 3D tools, or any complex abstract distorted Gradient Meshes, or realistic illustrations created using Gradient Meshes, which need an additional pop of color. So play around with this technique and see what you can create! 7. Final Thoughts & Conclusion: I often find that to create something exciting you just need to play around and find more experimental ways of using pretty basic tools. And I hope that this class gave you some new ideas how you can use these familiar tools to create different effects. I’ll be excited to see how you implement these techniques in your work and hear what technique you like most or would like to explore in your future projects. For your class project, experiment with creating a design, illustration or artwork using any of the tools & techniques which you have not used before or haven’t used in the same way as I’ve shared with you in this class, and share a few words about your experimental process and what you’ve learnt. Be sure to share your work in the Projects section for this class, and if you are going to share your work on Instagram, please tag us @attitudecreative and use the #attitudeskills hashtag so we can easily find your posts! If you have any questions, please leave a comment in the Discussions tab for this class and I’ll happily answer and provide feedback! If you’d like to see me dissect any other of my gradient designs, all of which you can find in the projects on my Behance profile, please leave a comment with the design name and number on the Discussions board for this class, and I’ll be sure to consider it when making future classes. If you want to learn in more detail about using the tools and techniques I’ve mentioned in this class Or generally learn more tips, tricks and techniques for creating vector gradients, be sure to check out my class Mastering Gradients in Illustrator. So, that’s it for this class! I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something new. If you found this class helpful, please leave a review so more people could discover it! And be sure to follow us here on Skillshare to be the first to know about our new classes, updates and announcements. Also don’t hesitate to follow our page on Facebook to see what we are up to, get all the latest updates, send us private messages if you need to get in touch about something and not to miss if you are featured in our Student Spotlight gallery! Thank you for watching this class, and I hope to see you in our other classes!