Mastering Gradients in Adobe Illustrator | Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

38 Lessons (3h 48m)
    • 1. Introduction & Class Overview

      2:37
    • 2. Your Class Project & 2021 Giveaway

      3:28
    • 3. What Makes Good Gradients

      9:23
    • 4. Recommended Document Settings

      1:49
    • 5. Approaches to Creating Colours for Your Gradients

      11:45
    • 6. Creating Global Colour Swatches

      2:30
    • 7. Setting Up Gradients Using the Gradient Panel

      9:19
    • 8. Adjusting Gradients Using the Gradient Tool

      5:59
    • 9. Creating Freeform Gradients

      9:33
    • 10. Creating Multiple Gradients Within One Object

      7:12
    • 11. Applying Gradients to Editable Type

      5:35
    • 12. Applying Gradients Across Multiple Objects

      5:58
    • 13. Applying Gradients to Strokes: Introduction

      4:14
    • 14. Using Gradients Within Strokes

      7:08
    • 15. Using Gradients Along Strokes

      8:55
    • 16. Using Gradients Across Strokes

      6:13
    • 17. Shading Strokes with Gradients

      7:51
    • 18. Creating Gradients Using the Gradient Mesh Tool

      9:31
    • 19. Distorting Gradient Meshes to Create Experimental Designs

      11:10
    • 20. Creating Gradients Using the Blend Tool

      8:42
    • 21. Using Gradients in Opacity Masks

      9:25
    • 22. Recolouring Gradients & Designs

      9:15
    • 23. Modifying Colours Using Blending Modes

      4:18
    • 24. Adding Selective Colouring Effects

      2:37
    • 25. Creating Complex Colouring Effects

      3:47
    • 26. Blurring Gradients

      6:24
    • 27. Texturing Gradients & Designs

      11:35
    • 28. Gradient Assets: Introduction

      0:54
    • 29. Creating & Managing Gradient Swatches

      6:19
    • 30. Creating Graphic Styles

      4:19
    • 31. Creating Gradient Brushes

      11:12
    • 32. Preparing Your Work for Output

      1:32
    • 33. Saving Your Work in RGB

      3:27
    • 34. Converting to CMYK & Saving Your Work for Print

      3:14
    • 35. Final Thoughts & Conclusion

      2:44
    • 36. Bonus: Making of Layered Organic Design

      2:39
    • 37. Bonus: Making of Vector Illustration with Gradient Brushes

      2:40
    • 38. Bonus: Making of Vector Illustration with Fill & Stroke Gradients

      2:40
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About This Class

Level up your gradient skills with our special tips, tricks & techniques ranging from beginner to advanced Illustrator levels!

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I'm Evgeniya Righini-Brand, and with this class I invite you to master gradients in Adobe Illustrator. Whether you’re going for a vibrant and dramatic look, or something more subtle and dreamy, something minimalistic or elaborate and experimental, gradients create a sense of depth, allowing you to change the feel of any design, object and environment!

This class is suitable for anyone who loves gradients, and I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make awesome gradient-based designs suitable for both digital and print projects. 

In this in-depth class you’ll learn: 

  • How to choose the right colours to create beautiful smooth transitions and avoid murky gradients and colour banding;
  • How to unlock the full potential of Linear, Radial & Freeform Fill Gradients, including how to use multiple gradient fills and how to apply gradients to editable type;
  • How to make the most out of different types of Stroke Gradients;
  • Experimental techniques for creating gradients by using Gradient Meshes, Blends and Opacity Masks;
  • Techniques for taking your gradient designs a step further to get a perfect colouring, silky smooth transitions & a beautiful textured look;
  • How to create and use gradient assets, such as Gradient Swatches, Graphic Styles & Gradient Brushes to speed up your workflow or to sell as digital assets;
  • How to prepare your work for print & digital use.

I’m super excited to see your gradient experiments! Join now and let’s make something awesome!

This class was recorded in Illustrator CC 2020, but most of the covered tools and techniques can be used in older versions of Illustrator just as well, and so far there has been no significant changes to the tools used in this class in newer Illustrator versions.


Giveaway 2021:

To celebrate this massive class update we will be hosting a giveaway in which you can win 1 out of 5 Gradient Design Kits which include gradient swatches, graphic styles and gradient brushes and one lucky winner will also receive 1 year of Skillshare Premium Membership!

To participate:

  • watch the updated class;
  • leave a review for this class or update your previous review;
  • post a project in this class or update your old project with some new experiments;
  • and follow us here on Skillshare.

If you have participated in our original contest back in 2017 when we published the first edition of this class, you are more than welcome to enter this giveaway as well! 

Entry deadline is at noon EST on Monday, March 29th 2021. The winners will be drawn at random and announced the following day!

I cannot wait to see your entries, and good luck!


Research:

Gradients — research & inspiration board on Pinterest


Recommended classes:

Creating Trendy Abstract Patterns in Illustrator — a foundation class about using various tools in Illustrator and creating vector patterns, which would also look awesome if coloured in gradients.

Creating & Using Custom 3D Objects in Illustrator — learn how to make a range of exciting 3D objects in Illustrator which you can then art-map using the gradients to make them even more awesome.

Creating Trendy Designs with Abstract Patterns in Illustrator — learn about design composition and different approaches to designing and illustrating with patterns, mix it with gradients and you'll get something super cool;)

Meet Your Teacher

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Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-Brand

Graphic Design & Photography

Top Teacher

2021 Giveaway: Your 6 Chances to Win 1 Year of Skillshare Premium Membership!

To celebrate this super-productive year and just in time for the new learning year ahead, we are currently running a giveaway of 1 year of Skillshare Premium Membership across all the classes we have published or updated this year so far, including:

— Mastering Gradients in Adobe Illustrator (2021 edition)
— Designs Dissected: Gradient Studies | Advanced Graphic Effects in Adobe Illustrator
— Geometric Design in Adobe Illustrator: Tips for a Faster, Smarter & More Precise Workflow
— Live Encore: Designing Geometric Letterforms (2021 release of late 2020 Live Session)
— The Camera’s Journey Through Time: A Brief Technological Histor... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction & Class Overview: Trends might change, but gradients are so natural and diverse, so they are here to stay! Hey guys, I am Jenya from Attitude Creative, and with this class I invite you to master gradients in Adobe Illustrator. Whether subtle or dramatic, complex or minimalistic, gradients create a sense of depth and dynamics and allow you to change the feel of any design, illustration, artwork or environment! I love experimenting with different ways of creating gradient-based designs in Illustrator, and in this class I am excited to show you how to make the most out of a range of Illustrator tools and techniques for creating vector gradient artworks and to share with you a whole load of my special tips and tricks, which I use when creating my gradient designs! This class is designed for everyone who loves gradients, and I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to create awesome gradients suitable for both digital and print projects. In this in-depth class you’ll learn everything from choosing the right colours to create beautiful smooth transitions and avoid murky gradients and colour banding to unlocking the full potential of the core gradient-related tools, as well as my favourite experimental techniques for creating gradients and for taking gradient designs a step further to get a perfect colouring, silky smooth transitions and a beautiful textured look. And towards the end of the class I will also share with your how to create and use gradient assets to speed up your workflow and how to export your gradient designs for print and digital use. To make sure your get the most out of this class I have created a number of downloadable resources for you to play around with, and I have also provided a detailed table of contents to make it easier for you to navigate through this class! I cannot wait to share with you what I’ve learnt over the years experimenting with gradients in Adobe Illustrator to help you create exciting, vibrant and dynamic gradient-based designs, illustrations and artworks. So join me in this class, and let’s make something awesome! 2. Your Class Project & 2021 Giveaway: Hey guys, welcome to the new 2021 edition of this class! Since first publishing this class in the beginning of 2017 I have created a ton of new gradient-based designs and learnt so many new things along the way, so in this edition of the class I am excited to share with you even more tips, tricks and techniques which I use in my work, to empower you to create exciting and experimental gradients with ease and confidence! And to celebrate this massive class update we will be hosting a giveaway in which you can win 1 out of 5 Gradient Design Kits containing Gradient Swatches, Graphic Styles and Gradient Brushes, and one lucky winner will also receive 1 year of Skillshare Premium Membership! To participate watch the updated class, leave a review for this class or update your previous review, post a project in this class or update your old project with some new experiments, and follow us here on Skillshare. If you have participated in our original contest back in 2017 when we published the first edition of this class, you are more than welcome to enter this giveaway as well! Entry deadline is at noon EST on Monday, 29th of March 2021. The winners will be drawn at random and announced the following day! I cannot wait to see your entries, and good luck! For your class project create your own experimental gradient designs using any of the techniques shown in this class. Gradients offer so much room for experimentation and you can implement them in so many different ways. I’m into abstract stuff, but you can take gradients in any direction you want, and I cannot wait to see what you choose to create! Share your experiments in the project for this class together with a few words about your work and what tools and techniques you’ve used. Alternatively, if you want to methodically work through all of the techniques covered in this class, go for it and don’t hesitate to use the assignments at the end of most videos as a guide to what to concentrate on experimenting with when exploring each of the tools and techniques. And don’t hesitate to share your work-in-progress in your project for this class as you go, and I will be happy to provide feedback along the way! Whichever way you decide to approach your project, I’ll be super excited to see your experiments, so be sure to share them as your project in the Projects & Resources tab for this class. Whist working through the class, remember that there are a few downloads for you to use and you can find them in the Projects & Resources tab here. And also don’t hesitate to download and have ready the table of contents to make it easier to find exactly what you are looking for or to note down which parts you’d want to revisit later. And now, let’s get on with the class! 3. What Makes Good Gradients: As a designer I believe that there are good and beautiful gradients, but there are also some bad and ugly ones. A good gradient is a natural, harmonious, clean and smooth blend of colours, and this is what I always strive to create in my work and consider to be good practice as it helps to avoid technical issues when reproducing gradients in print and it makes them so much more exciting to look at on screen. I’ve been creating gradient-based designs for quite a while and over the years I have accumulated a collections of beautiful inspiring gradients on my Gradients board on Pinterest, so don’t hesitate to check it out. To avoid making murky gradients or gradients with visible colour banding you need to understand how gradients are created in Illustrator and have a basic grasp on colour theory. Of course, you can get good results by experimenting, but keeping in mind the following principles and rules will save you time in a long run and will enable you to create exciting gradients every time. Each colour in a digital environment has a numeric value, and for working with gradients in Illustrator it is important to understand what RGB and CMYK colour values mean and do. In RGB each primary colour has an intensity setting from 0 to 255, from lack of colour, which is black, to its full intensity. And mixing all three colours in their full intensity creates white. In CMYK each colour has an intensity setting in percentage, and mixing all components at 100% intensity creates the deepest registration black, whilst mixing just cyan, magenta and yellow at 100% creates this sort of murky colour, which will look like a dirty, but not rich black when printed. In RGB mixing all primary colours in equal amounts will create a shade of grey, and mixing them in close but not exactly equal amounts will create all sorts of warm and cold greys. And similar is true in CMYK, where you’ll end up with dirty greyish colours. There’s nothing wrong with grey as such, but it can be created in the midpoint of a gradient by mistake and make your gradient look dull and dirty. The midpoint is the point on the gradient where the two colours creating a gradient are mixed in equal proportions. In Illustrator it is calculated as an average between the numeric values of each colour component in either RGB or CMYK used in two colours blending into a gradient. These two colours are called colour stops. It is important to remember, that colour values in the gradient are not calculated based on the hue values of the two colours or their position on the colour wheel. So don’t expect to have a gradient between two colours which are far away from each other on the colour wheel to follow all the transitions you see on the colour wheel. Keeping this averaging principle in mind, you can estimate your midpoints to avoid having dirty colours, but it’s probably easier to resort to the basic principle of the colour theory at this point, and follow a more visual rule instead. So, we are fighting grey midpoints. And the colour theory tells us that the colours which cancel each other out and create achromatic or dirty colours when mixed together are complementary colours. Complementary colours are the colours which sit opposite each other on the colour wheel, for example, blue and orange. And if you create a direct gradient between these two colours, you’ll get a dirty transition. So to avoid having a dirty midpoint when creating a gradient between complementary colours, you need to manually add at least one new colour stop in the middle of the gradient and set it to a colour, which is situated between these two complementary colours on the colour wheel. Even if you are not blending together opposite colours, when you create gradients between cold and warm colours or colours which are far away from each other on a colour wheel, more than 90º apart, consider introducing additional colour stops and setting them to colours which should naturally occur at those points in the gradients. This will allow you to create a harmonious transition between the colours. Since gradients in a digital environment are based on mathematical averages, it presents a few limitations in comparison to mixing physical colours. If you have two colours which are very similar to each other, you would think that you should have a very smooth subtle transition. But this is not always the case. If you have a gradient which covers a large surface and the colours you use in it are pretty close to each other in terms of their numeric values, you might encounter an issue called colour banding. Colour banding occurs either when the number of colour blends forming a gradient between the two colours is not enough to smoothly cover the whole gradient area, or when you create gradients between very dark colours and white. Watch out for it and make sure that you cannot see wide colour stripes in your gradients. If you do see colour bands, consider adjusting the colours of the colour stops or add more colour stops to create a smooth transition. In those cases when the colours are too similar, it can be difficult or even impossible to completely avoid colour banding as Illustrator cannot add more colours to these sorts of transitions. You can conceal colour banding a little using texturing techniques, and we’ll get back to this later in this class. But in any case it’s always better to start with the colours which are optimally different from each other in the first place. This is particularly important for any work for print, as CMYK supports less colours than RGB, so there are less variations and colour banding is more likely. If you are creating work for digital viewing or projection, set your document to the RGB colour mode and use either HSB or RGB colour models for defining colours. If you are creating work solely for print using the CMYK process, set your document to CMYK and use CMYK sliders to define colours in the Colours panel. If you want to present your work both digitally and in print, I recommend starting with RGB, and if required by your printer, convert a copy of your document to CMYK and adjust the colours if necessary. Keep both files as masters, and export work from RGB file for digital use, and from CMYK for print only. CMYK being a print model supports and reproduces a smaller range of colours than RGB, so watch out for colour banding. Apart from all these colour mixing nuances, ultimately what makes good gradients, are the colours you choose to blend together. There are no hard rules and the main point here is that the colours should feel right for the mood you want to create, and then you need to follow the aforementioned technical rules to create nice transitions. So, keep all these rules in mind and we’ll look into a few approaches for choosing colours, which make good gradients in a moment. But first, let me quickly share with you the recommended document settings for creating gradient designs. 4. Recommended Document Settings: To begin with, let’s quickly create and set up a new document which we’ll be using throughout the whole class. Set up your artboard size to whatever you wish, though I recommend creating artwork which is at least 1200 pixels on its shorter side to be able to share it in a good quality afterwards. I usually create my gradient designs on 2000 by 2000 px artboards. In the Advanced Options, or via the More Settings button in older versions of Illustrator, set the Colour Mode according to your intentions. It would be awesome to see you upload your experiments in your project for this class, so I suggest working in RGB to enjoy vibrant colours and share your work with the world afterwards. Set Raster Effects to 300 dpi here, we’ll be texturing our gradient artworks later on in this class and having high resolution effects will be crucial. So, let’s create a new document. There will be a lot of stages in this class, so I recommend you get into a habit of saving your work every few minutes, and start now by saving your new document in a desired location under a descriptive name. Make sure you select AI format, and click Save. Now let’s get on with the colours! 5. Approaches to Creating Colours for Your Gradients: The beauty of working with colours digitally is that you don’t need to be an expert in colour theory, and there are tools to help you create awesome colour combinations based on colour harmony rules. And the first tool which we’ll be using is the Colour Guide, so open it up, and if it’s not in your workspace, activate it through the Window menu. So to begin with, in the Tools panel set up a colour which you want to use in your gradients. It can be as intense or a subtle as you want. I like using bright colours to begin with so I’ll set brightness and saturation to 100%. In the Colour Guide you can now see other tints and shades of the same colour. If you don’t see Tints and Shades here, in this menu in the top right corner of the panel make sure you have Tints and Shades selected. Also in the same menu you can set up the number of colour variations the Colour Guide will create. Go to the Colour Guide Options and set up the number of Tints and Shades variants you want to be able to use. 4 or 5 should be enough. Here you can also set up the variation percentage, I’ll keep it at 100% as it produces the best variety for what we’re doing. Now we are all set here, so let’s have a look at different harmony rules, which can help us to create nice groups of colours for the gradients. So, you already know that complementary colours can be quite problematic for creating good gradients and require additional colour stops to make them work. So if you really want to have a gradient between two complementary colours, start by selecting the top complementary pair harmony rule. Then in the Colour Guide Command+click, or Control+click in Windows, on two active colours in the middle to select them, and then click on the Save Colour Croup to Swatches panel button in the bottom of the Colour Guide panel. This will add these two colours as a new group to your document’s swatches. If the Swatches panel is not open, open it through the Window menu. Now go back to the Colour Guide, and in the Harmony Rules go to the very bottom of the list and select Pentagram. Then click on this Edit Colours button, and go to the Edit tab here. We’ll have a closer look at this window with all these super useful settings later on in this class, but for now let’s just use the colour wheel here to see how the Harmony rules create colours. The Pentagram rule creates a set of colours which are equally distributed around the colour wheel. So these 4 new colours will allow you to create a smoother transition between your original colour and its opposite colour, which would be somewhere here. For some colours, the Tetrad Harmony rule, which you can access here in this Window, can also be used to create nice gradients, but having 2 colour stops between the complementary colours allows to create smoother transitions. So we’ll stick with the Pentagram rule. Let’s adjust these colours to have more even gaps if we imagine that the opposite colour is here. So unlink Harmony colours, and move these colours, so that the gaps between them are about 60 degrees, like this. And there’s about 120 degrees between these two colours, as the complementary colour would be between them. When you are ready with these colours, click on the New Colour Group button here to add these colours to your Swatches. Now let’s press Ok to close this window, and go to the Swatches panel. Here drag your complementary colour from this group to your new group with 5 colours. I usually put this complementary swatch right where it belongs between the other ones, just to make it easier to see the order of the colours in terms of their hues. Now let’s quickly delete this redundant group with just one colour to keep our swatches tidy. So here is our first group of colours ready. Now let’s select the colour swatch of our initial colour in the Swatches panel and have a look at the Analogous colours. There is a couple of Analogous rules to choose from, so you can pick one which looks best for you. Analogous colours are the colours which sit next to each other on the colour wheel and share the same components. In the Tints & Shades colour variations, you can pick as many colours as you want. I usually pick all of the active colours, and then add quite a few tints and shades to the mix. If you want to select a few rows or columns of colours, you can Shift+click on two colours in the opposite corners of the desired selection, which is faster than Command+clicking. And in this case Command+clicking can be used to deselect a few colours you don’t want to use. When you are happy with your selection of colours, add them as a new colour group. The great thing about analogous colours is that whilst offering some hue variation, their tints and shades easily blend together and you can use them to create some really complex gradient artworks. To create the most subtle type of gradients you can use one of these two Monochromatic rules here or the Shades rule. As with the Analogous colours, these colours will also beautifully blend together as they are based around similar hues. And the lightest tints and the darkest shades are very useful for creating highlights and shadows respectively, and they create more organic and smooth transitions than when you use pure white or pure black as colour stops. So pick as many or as little variations here. And then create a new group from them. So these are the colour groups based on the colour harmony rules, which generally are a great starting point for creating gradient-based designs as well as for creating other colour groups. But to have more options to explore and to be able to create smoother vibrant gradients, let’s create another different set of colours. Start by selecting your group of 6 colours, the one which features opposite colours, and click on the Edit Colour Group button in the Swatches panel to open the Edit Colours window. Here unlink all colours, and then drag them to be about 15 to 30 degrees apart on the colour wheel, for example, like this. Then link them back together, and if necessary move the whole lot around the wheel to get the desired set of hues. After that, if you want to adjust the colours separately, unlink them yet again, and set these sliders to HSB through this menu here. Then select the colour you want to adjust, and fine-tune it using these sliders. I prefer working in HSB over other colour modes, because it makes it very easy to adjust saturation and brightness of each colour without affecting the hue. And of course it allows to make small adjustments to hue separately as well. So if necessary go through all of the colours you are creating and tweak their properties. When ready, click on the New Colour Group button here. After this is done, you can very quickly create more groups with different sets of hues. To do this link the colours back together and drag them around the wheel until you have a new set which you like. And then define a new colour group. And repeat the process to create a few more groups the same way. When you’re done, hit Ok and make sure not to save changes to your original colour group. And now you have a few more groups with more subtle gradation of colours, which can be used to create exciting vibrant gradients! Now if you want, you can select one of your new colour groups, and go to the Colour Guide Panel. Here you can pick some shades or tints of your new colours to have a more extensive range of colours to play around with. And then add them to your swatches together with the original set of colours you’ve used to have your swatches neatly organised in order. Now you can either delete this group of the original colours as you have them here, or keep it as a separate group to have a more condensed colour selection as an option. Next, let’s quickly prepare all our swatches for use by converting them into Global colours. 6. Creating Global Colour Swatches: After you have created your colour groups, but before you start applying your colours to your artwork, it is a good idea to convert each colour into a Global colour, so start by double-clicking on the thumbnail of your first colour swatch in the Swatches panel to open this window. Global colours are very useful when it comes to recolouring your work or making minor adjustments to colours, because when you adjust any global colour swatch through this window, the change will be automatically applied to all objects which use this colour. So tick Global colour here, and apply changes. Global colour swatches have a white triangle in the corner of their thumbnails, so you can easily see which colours are Global and which are not. Now either go through all of the colours you’ve created and convert them to Global one by one, or select multiple swatches within one group, then click on the Swatch Options button, and check Global here. If your groups feature copies of the same colours or some colours which were already converted to Global, you’ll get an error message like this, so make sure you deselect the repeat colours before you try converting a number of colours to Global. And then just Alt-drag a Global colour which you want to be in your group from another group and place it over the original swatch which is not Global, like this. You can find all of these colour groups I have created as a swatch file in the class resources, so feel free to download it, but I’d also highly recommend creating your own colour groups to reflect your personal colour preferences and to have more colours to play around with. And when you’re done with the colours, now we can start creating some gradients! 7. Setting Up Gradients Using the Gradient Panel: Illustrator offers a number of different tools which can be used to create gradients and work with them in a straightforward or an experimental manner, and each of them can be used to create designs and artworks of different types and levels of complexity. And it is important to understand the capabilities, advantages and limitations of each of these tools, and utilise the most appropriate tool for each specific task. Let’s start with the basics. For the first example, I am going to quickly create a square using the Rectangle tool, but you can use any kind of shape or closed path you want. Then I’ll switch to the Selection tool and set the stroke colour to none, and set the fill type to gradient by clicking here on the Tools panel. You can also use these shortcuts for assigning different types of fill and stroke attributes to your selected objects, which are super useful and save a lot of time. When you apply a gradient the Gradient panel should open automatically, and if not, it can be opened through the Window menu. If you cannot see all of these setting here, go to this menu in the top right corner of the Gradient panel and select Show Options. The gradient which you assigned to your work through the Tools panel is either the last gradient you’ve used or selected, or if it is the first gradient you are creating in the document, it is going to be set to the default black and white gradient or the first gradient swatch from the gradient swatches which are listed here. As we are going to be creating gradients from our new colours groups, the default gradient swatches are irrelevant. Make sure that at this point the gradient is applied to the fill and not to the stroke, which is a different story and I’ll go through it separately later on in this class. In Illustrator there are two basic types of gradients: linear and radial, and there are slightly more complex Freeform gradients which were introduced in the 2019 version of Illustrator. In a way, Freeform gradients are a totally different tool which just happens to be in the same panel as these two, so I will be covering Freeform gradients separately later, and now let’s concentrate on the basics. When you have a linear gradient selected, you can set up its angle here. And if you select a radial gradient, you’ll also be able to set the aspect ratio of the ellipse. If you set it to 100% you will create a circle, and at this point the angle is not going to make any difference. But if your gradient is anything else rather than a circle, then modifying the angle will change its orientation. Then we’ve got a gradient slider which shows the colour transition. On this slider there are at least two toggles below which represent our colour stops, and for each pair of the colour stops, there’ll be one toggle above for the midpoint for this particular transition. As I’ve already mentioned in the previous videos, colour stops are the base colours between which the gradient transition happens, and the midpoint is the point where the two end colours are mixed in equal proportion. By default each midpoint is placed at 50%, in the middle of the transition between the two colour stops, and you can move it if necessary by dragging it sideways or by inputting a precise value here. This way you’ll be able to control the transition between the two colours and can make one of the colours more dominant, if required. Colour stops also have a location attribute, and you can move them around the same way. Here you can also set the opacity of the colour stops, and this is a very useful feature. For a radial gradient the left colour stop represents the colour in the middle of a circle or ellipse, and for a linear gradient left is left and right is right, unless you have changed the angle here. Clicking on the Reverse button will reflect the gradient and swap the colour stops around. You can add new colour stops by clicking just below the Gradient slider. This will automatically add new stops with the correct settings for that particular location on the gradient to keep the transition smooth. And you’ll see new midpoints appear above the slider between each pair of the colour stops. You can also duplicate a colour stop by dragging it sideways whilst holding down the Alt key. This will make a new colour stop with the same colour and opacity settings as the original one. To delete a colour stop, simply drag it away from the Gradient Slider. To change the colour of the colour stop, double-click on it. This will open the Colour Picker which will allow you to select your desired colour. Since we have our colours saved as Swatches, click on the Swatches icon here and select the colour you want to use. I’ll pick this colour from this group here. Now let’s select the right colour stop and set it to a complementary colour to the first one. So you can see, that the midpoint here is kind of dull. That’s why we’ve got more colours to put between the end colours for this gradient. So let’s create two new colour stops in between, and set them to the colours which should be in between these two complementary colours on the colour wheel. When you assign your colours, make sure the colour stops go in the right order, and then adjust their locations and the midpoints to create the desired look of your gradient. One of the recent additions to the Gradient panel is the Colour Picker here which allows you to pick colours for your colour stops from any existing vector artwork, or you can import a raster image and quickly grab colours from it. This way you don’t need to create colour swatches to begin with, so it is a slightly different workflow, but if you are working off a reference image or need to add a gradient to an existing artwork, it can make the process faster. If you want to create a reflected, symmetrical linear gradient, you’ll need to repeat the same colour stops starting from the centre to the edge, like this. So, these are the basic gradient settings. Play around with them and check out how different colours work together and add as many colour stops as you need to create good gradients. You can create the most basic linear and radial gradients just by using the Gradient panel. But to be able to adjust the way these types of gradients are filling the objects they are applied to, you’ll need to use the Gradient tool. So next, let’s have a look at what extra options it offers. 8. Adjusting Gradients Using the Gradient Tool: To have more control over how the gradient is applied to an object you need to use the Gradient tool located in the Tools panel. When your object is selected and the Gradient tool is active, you should see a Gradient Annotator. If you have everything selected and the Gradient tool is active, but you still cannot see the Gradient Annotator, go to the menu View and click on the Show Gradient Annotator. Now you can adjust the gradient using this slider. It works absolutely the same way as the gradient slider in the Gradient panel, so you can change the colours here by double-clicking on them and choosing colours from this window. Here you can also set the opacity of the selected colour stop. And of course you can move colour stops and midpoints around. Whilst you can do these things through the Gradient panel, using the Gradient Annotator is super useful when you are working with a gradient which features a number of colour stops and it makes it easier to adjust the location of the colour stops and midpoints in relation to the actual object the gradient is applied to. But what makes the Gradient tool different, is that it allows you to move, rotate and scale the gradient in relation to the object it is applied to. For example, if you drag the slider by this circle in the beginning of the linear gradient, you’ll move the gradient in relation to the object it is filling. On the other hand, if you drag the end point on the other side of the gradient slider, which is square, you will resize the gradient instead. If you move your mouse just outside the square end point, you’ll see the rotation cursor. Now you can hold down the mouse button and rotate the gradient. To change the type of gradient, you will still need to go to the Gradient panel and set it there. When you are using a radial gradient, Gradient Annotator will also allow you to change the aspect ratio of the gradient by dragging this point on the outer ellipse marking the boundaries of the gradient. To resize a radial gradient use either the square point on the slider or the point on the outer ellipse opposite it. Dragging the slider will allow you to move the gradient. And you can rotate it by placing the cursor anywhere around the dashed line around your gradient. Here you also have this circle in the beginning of the gradient slider, moving which will allow you to offset the origin point of the gradient in relation to its overall shape. As the gradient is created between the origin point and the outer ellipse marking the spread of the gradient, offsetting the origin point will make a longer gradient on one side and a shorter one on the other. When you work with the gradient using the Gradient tool, the object contains the gradient within it, so even if you increase the gradient size, or in other words its spread, you’ll only affect what is inside the object, and the rest of the gradient outside of the object’s boundaries won’t be visible. Ability to control gradient’s angle and position within the shapes is super useful when colouring or shading illustrations and designs, and sometimes you don’t need more than that to add an exciting 3D feel to your work. For example, this geometric design has exactly the same linear gradient applied to each shape at a different angle using the Gradient tool, as you can see from all the gradient sliders here. Whilst creating linear and radial fill gradients using the Gradient panel and Gradient tool is pretty straightforward, there is a lot of room for experimentation! If you are into simple stuff, try creating gradient backgrounds or create compositions from separate gradient-filled shapes. You can also throw some transparent colour stops into the mix and explore how you can blend your gradient-filled shapes with the background. When experimenting with transparent colour stops, check out different colours for these stops as this will allow you to create different effects. Linear and radial fill gradients can be also used as Opacity Masks or as a basis for creating exciting dynamic 3D-looking designs using the Blend tool, but more about it later. And next let’s have a look at how you can create and use the Freeform gradients. 9. Creating Freeform Gradients: Freeform gradients were introduced in the 2019 version of Illustrator, and they are pretty fun to use once you learn all of the different features and get used to their quirks. You can apply Freeform gradients as a fill attribute to individual objects, excluding editable type, and you cannot apply them to stroke. For the next example I am going to switch to the Ellipse tool and draw a circle. Now let’s apply a gradient fill to it and set its type to Freeform in the Gradient panel. When you first apply a Freeform gradient to an object, you will see some random Freeform gradient or not even a gradient, but just one colour stop. Unlike linear and radial gradients which bare basics you can control through the Gradient panel without touching the objects the are filling, Freeform gradients rely on working with the actual objects they are applied to and adding colour stops to the desired locations manually. And you can specify whether you want to create individual points or lines here. Since we already have a few points, let’s start with the points mode, and go and add a few more colour stops. You can change the colour of each colour stop after you have created them by double-clicking on them and choosing a new colour from your swatches. Or you can select a colour stop, and pick a colour from the actual Swatches panel, which is more convenient as it does not get in the way of the shape. Alternatively you can select a colour stop, then activate the Colour Picker tool in the Gradient panel and sample colour from any object in your document. If you want to quickly add a new colour stop in the same colour which is already used in your freeform gradient, select the colour stop in the desired colour, and then click somewhere else to add a new point in this colour. To adjust your gradient, you can move the colour stops around. When you select a colour stop you’ll see a dashed line circle around it which indicates the Spread of each colour, and you can adjust it by dragging this black circle here. You can also control Spread of a selected stop through the Gradient panel or through the Control panel here. So these are Points, and if you select Lines here, you will be able to create a gradient between the colour stops which follows a line. To make a gradient in a curve, you can either carry on creating more colour stops and the curve between them will be created automatically, or you can add another colour stop to the line like this, and then drag it to create the desired look. And then you can add even more points, if you want. You can also convert curves to corners by Alt-clicking on the colour stops, like this. And convert them back to curves the same way. If you started with points, you can connect them with lines, like this. And if you want to create a separate new line, just press Escape or Command+click, or Control+click in Windows, somewhere to deselect the previous line and start a new one elsewhere. If you are using lines, you can create a closed shape by going to the starting point, the same way as you would create a closed path with the Pen tool. I’m not sure whether there is a way to disconnect points with the current Freeform gradients tool functionality, so keep it in mind before you commit to connecting points and closing loops. If you want to move points in a line gradient, press Escape to deselect the last line, and remember to press Escape every time you move any of the end points around. This can be a little fiddly, so I usually just switch to the Points mode when I want to move the points, and only use the Lines mode when I need to create more lines or connect points together. If you ever need to delete a stop from your Freeform gradient, either select it and hit Delete, or simply drag it outside your object’s boundaries, like this. Probably the best bit about the Freeform gradients is that they make it very easy to create multicolour non-linear transitions without resorting to using Gradient Meshes, but that said, Gradient Meshes still have their uses and their own unique advantages which we’ll look at later on in this class. But what’s particularly great about the Freeform gradients is that you can easily move the colour stops around and see how it changes your gradient, and you can end up with some unpredictable cool effects by almost squashing colour stops together, for example, like this. On the other hand, if you are after creating smooth Freeform gradients, moving points and lines a little further apart can help to create smoother transitions. Another great thing about the Freeform gradients is that you can control the opacity of each colour stop individually, so you can create non-uniform fills with some more and some less opaque areas which can be useful for layering them over other elements, for example, like this. Being able to use a combination of points and lines in Freeform gradients is super useful as lines serve as a barrier and stop points from spreading further, and this allows to create some fun effects and add more volume to your work. So there are a lot of things to play around with by moving the colour stops around, changing spread of colour stops or length and curvature of lines, and of course the colours! Freeform gradients are super useful for creating colourful backgrounds and colouring elements in your work with multiple colours and not in a linear fashion, and I love to use them in combination with other elements. One of my favourite tricks is to use them to add a fun colouring effect to 3D-looking elements like this, and I will share techniques for creating this sort of elements and for colouring them this way later in this class. So, in a way, Freeform gradients allow you to combine multiple fading out gradients within one object, and whilst there are a few things you can adjust, colour stops still blend in a mesh-like way and cannot overlap in any way and you cannot control the Blending Modes of different colour stops. So if you are after a little bit more fun, experimentation and flexibility, or if you simply have an older version of Illustrator which does not support Freeform gradients, you can use the multiple gradient fills instead. And that’s what we are going to look at next. 10. Creating Multiple Gradients Within One Object: Before the introduction of Freeform gradients, using multiple gradient fills within one object was mainly a technique for creating complex gradient colouring and keeping all of the Appearance attributes within one object, which made them reusable via Graphic Styles. And whilst now you can create some similar effects using Freeform gradients, using multiple gradient fills has a few unique advantages, as it allows you to experiment with how gradients blend with each other by utilising different colours, Opacity values, Blending Modes and different types of gradients. So using this technique you can create something very different from what can be achieved using the Freeform gradients. To be able to work with multiple gradient fills you’ll need to have the Appearance panel in front of you. If you don’t have it in your workspace, go to the Window menu and select Appearance. Again, I am going to use a circle here, and let’s start by assigning a solid fill colour to it, so we have some sort of a background colour. Then we need to add a new fill by clicking on this button. Now select this new fill in the Appearance panel, and set it to gradient. Appearance panel lists all of the attributes which are applied to the object and can include fill, stroke, effects and opacity settings. Note that through this panel you can control the Opacity and the Blending Mode of the object overall, as well as of its separate fill and stroke attributes. Now let’s set up our new gradient using the Gradient tool and the Gradient panel. To be able to blend gradient fills with each other or with the object’s background colour you can either use the opacity settings for the gradient colour stops, or the Blending Modes of the separate fills, or a combination of both. As this technique is about blending multiple things together, I usually start with creating a fading out, disappearing gradient. For this I set both colour stops to the same colour. And then set the opacity of one of them to 0. This creates a smooth transition of this colour into transparency. You can also use different colour stops, but in this case you will have a gradient transition of the colour as well as of the opacity. If you have a more complex gradient which has a number of different colours, you will need to carefully work out the opacity you want to have throughout it. But my advice still is to smoothly fade the colours out into transparency at the edge. When you set up your fading out gradient, select the Gradient tool and adjust its size and position. Then let’s create another fading out gradient. I’ll set it to some other colour here. And then to be able to create an effect I’m after I need to move this gradient to a different position, and rotate it, like this. If you want to reset the alignment of the gradient to the default centre position, the easiest way to do this is by changing the gradient type in the Gradient panel to another one and then changing it back to what it is supposed to be. This already looks quite exciting, even though it’s pretty subtle. If you carry on adding more gradients, changing their colours and moving them around, you can make a lot of awesome effects. Make sure to select the gradient fill you want to modify using the Appearance panel. And also use this panel and drag the fills around if you need to change the order in which they are applied to the object. The bottom fill is applied first, and the one on top is applied last. When you have set up your multiple gradient fills within an object, you can also experiment with changing their Blending Modes in the Appearance panel. Make sure to open the gradient fill which you want to adjust, click on the Opacity right under it, and check out different Blending Modes from the list. Blending Modes are quite complex and the effects they create heavily depend on the colours of the gradient the Blending Mode is applied to and the background below it. So to get a result you want you need to look though different modes in each particular case. There are no shortcuts here, and the beauty is in the unexpected! If you want to integrate your gradient-filled object like this with all these fading colours with the background, you can also dispense of the background fill and have a partially translucent object like this. There are tons of opportunities for experimentation, so play around with adding multiple gradient fills to different objects and see what you come up with! 11. Applying Gradients to Editable Type: Applying gradients to editable type objects is super useful, though it is not as straightforward as one might expect. Let’s start by selecting the Type tool, type something and quickly typeset it using the Character panel. This will do. If we select this text using the Selection tool and set the fill type to Gradient, nothing will happen. Apparently the gradient has been applied, but you cannot see any changes. And if we select text using the Type tool and apply gradient fill, nothing will happen either. But there is a way. Select your type object with the Selection tool and go to the Appearance panel. And guess what? There’s no fill attribute applied to the type, but when you select your text with the Type tool, there’s a Fill attribute here, but it cannot interpret gradients. So to apply gradient to your type, firstly you need to select it with the Selection tool and set its fill to None. This will ensure that you won’t have a background colour coming from the type settings, and this is very important, so make sure that you set fill to none here for the whole object. Now, whilst having your type object selected with the Selection tool, go to the Appearance panel and click on Add New Fill button here. This will add both Fill and Stroke attributes to your type object which you can now set up. Select this fill and set its type to Gradient in the Tools panel. Now you can apply a linear or a radial gradient to your type and set it up the usual way using the Gradient panel and the Gradient tool as if it was any other object. Since we haven’t outlined this type, you can now edit the text or the type style as much as you want. Remember not to edit the colour of your text whilst having it selected or highlighted using the Type tool, as this will add an extra colour underneath the gradient. Instead only edit your text fill though the Appearance panel whilst having it selected with the Selection tool. And if you want to add another gradient fill to your type or a colour fill to use as a background, you can do it here, and then explore using multiple fills like we’ve done in the previous part. Note, that text within one type object will have a continuous gradient applied to it as Illustrator sees it as one object and not as separate characters. To apply gradients to separate characters or words, you will need to either create them as separate type objects, meaning that you’ll need to type them separately and see them as separate objects in the Layers panel. Alternatively you can create outlines, but this will stop your text from being editable, and Illustrator will treat it as any other vector shape instead. If you create outlines from type which has a continuous gradient applied to it, it will stay applied to the group of objects, and you will see the gradient attribute in the Appearance panel when you have the group selected. And if you ungroup it by pressing Command+Shift+G, or Control+Shift+G in Windows, the gradient attribute will disappear. And if you apply gradient to these objects now, it will be applied to each object individually. If you group them back together and apply gradient by clicking in the Tools panel, the gradient will be applied within a group to each individual object and not to the group overall. So when it comes to applying a continuous gradient to text, it is better done to the editable type object, mostly because it is editable. But there are a few different ways to apply continuous gradients to separate objects, and this is what we are going to look at next. 12. Applying Gradients Across Multiple Objects: Applying gradients to multiple objects might seem like a very obvious thing, but in Illustrator there are a few different ways of doing this and each of them allows you to create different effects. Let’s go back to this outlined type we have created before. Since it is grouped, you can apply a fill attribute to the whole group, but before we do this we need to make sure that each individual object has a fill colour set to None. So select the group and set the fill colour to none in the Tools panel. Pay attention to what you see in the Appearance panel, and at this point there shouldn’t be any fill attributes applied to the group. So the changes you’ve made were applied to the individual objects within the group. Now, having this group selected, in the Appearance panel, click on Add New Fill, and set it to gradient. Now you can adjust it any way you want using the Gradient panel and the Gradient tool, and add as many gradient fills as you wish, the same way as I’ve shown you earlier in this class. Remember that this technique will work with any filled vector objects and not just outlined type. If you double-click on any object within a group you’ll enter the Isolation mode where you can only work with the contents of the group, and if you start moving the object within a group around you’ll see the main benefit of applying gradients to groups of objects. When you change the position of any object within a group, the gradient fill applied to it will automatically update according to what it should be in this particular location. So you can easily re-arrange the elements whilst having the gradient cover them continuously. To exit the Isolation mode click on this arrow button in the document window or double-click anywhere away from the objects in the group. Whilst having objects in a group can be beneficial in some cases, in Illustrator you actually don’t need to have objects grouped to be able to apply a continuous gradient across all of them. So, let’s say you want to apply a gradient across all of these shapes. To do this, you need to select them all using the Selection tool and then set their fill to gradient. This will apply a gradient to every object within your selection. This is useful if you want to apply the same non-continuous gradient to a number of objects, but this is not what we want to do here. So whilst having the objects selected, pick the Gradient tool in the Tools panel, go to the point where you want your gradient to start and create a gradient by dragging your mouse to the point where you want it to end, like this. And the gradient will continuously fill your selected objects. The result will be more predictable when the individual gradients filling all of the selected objects are the same to start with. Whilst having everything selected and with the Gradient tool still active, you can edit your gradient using the Gradient panel. After releasing the selection, to edit the gradient applied to the objects later on, you’ll need to draw a new gradient once again. After applying the original gradient, all objects will now have individual gradient sliders, so you can easily rearrange the elements to create different effects. If you want to include an editable type object into the same selection and apply a continuous gradient to it as a part of a bigger composition, make sure you have assigned a gradient to it using the technique I’ve shown in the previous part, and make sure that the gradient is the same as the one applied to other objects within the selection. If everything is okay, you will be able to apply a gradient to a mix of objects like this. So that’s it for techniques for creating and applying fill gradients using the Gradient tool and the Gradient panel. Next, let’s have a look at adding gradients to strokes and different fun ways you can use them in your work. 13. Applying Gradients to Strokes: Introduction: Stroke gradients provide a ton of different creative possibilities both on their own and in combination with other elements and techniques. And they make it super quick and easy to create a lot of awesome effects, which otherwise would take some time and effort. The Stroke Gradients feature is available in Illustrator CS6 and Creative Cloud versions, so if you have an older version of Illustrator you’ll need to use a workaround which I’ll show you a bit later in the part about creating gradient brushes. But in any case, there are certain concepts which are the same regardless of whether you are using the stroke gradient tool or applying gradients to strokes using brushes, and I’ll cover them in this and the next few parts. To see how different stroke gradient settings work let’s use this circle, this semi-circle, this organically shaped closed path and a straight line segment. Now we need to select them, and set the fill colour to none and stroke to gradient. At the moment we cannot see much here as the stroke is quite thin, so let’s to go to the Stroke panel and increase the stroke weight here. I’ll also set caps to round, just because I like things to be round. You can use most of the different settings on this panel, including caps, corners, dashed lines and stroke profiles, and combined with stroke gradients they will allow you to create some cool stuff, so keep these options in mind when you start experimenting! If you want to learn about different possibilities of styling strokes using the Stroke panel, don’t hesitate to check out my class Creating Trendy Abstract Patterns in Illustrator which has a separate part dedicated to Stroke settings. Now let’s go back to the Gradient panel and have a look at what options we have available here. Unlike when using fill gradients, with stroke gradients you cannot use the Gradient tool to adjust or position the gradient. On the other hand, there are three different options which allow you to choose the way the gradient is applied to your strokes and you can also choose between linear and radial stroke gradients which will look slightly different for all of these three options here. Let’s stick with the linear gradient type for now as it is the more straightforward one of the two, and we’ll have a look at the radial type in relation to each of these options below separately. So here we have three different ways of applying gradient to strokes, including applying gradient within stroke, along stroke and across stroke. Whilst they all appear to be quite straightforward, there are a few tricks and techniques which you can use to make the most out of each of these gradient types, so let’s check them out! 14. Using Gradients Within Strokes: The first option for applying gradient to stroke is within the stroke, as if it is a shape and the gradient is filling it. When the gradient type above is set to Linear, the spread of the gradient is from one side to another, and you can control the angle of the gradient through the Gradient panel, but you cannot change the gradient’s position or size because the Gradient tool does not work with stroke gradients, as I’ve already mentioned. If you change the gradient type to Radial, the centre of the gradient will be in the centre of the bounding box around the path, and the way the gradient fills the stroke will be different depending on the shape of your path and where the centre of the bounding box falls. When working with oddly shaped paths, this can make using this type of gradients a little less intuitive. So I usually use the linear ones instead, just for the sake of having an easily predictable spread of the colours within the stroke. On the other hand, if you choose to use radial gradients within strokes, you can play around with the aspect ratio and the rotation angle to create some fun effects. But again, you cannot edit the position or size of the gradient within the stroke, or the position of the origin point. All stroke gradients are applied dynamically, so if you make any changes to your path or stroke settings, the gradient will be updated to fully cover the strokes. One thing to keep in mind, is that if you rotate an object with a stroke gradient applied to it, the gradient will be rotated the same way, so if you want to keep the original angle of the gradient, but change the rotation of the object, you’ll need to reset the gradient’s angle separately. If you apply a stroke gradient to a number of strokes, the same gradient will be applied within each of them individually taking into account their respective paths. If you want to apply a continuous stroke gradient within multiple paths, you can use a similar technique to the one we’ve used earlier in this class when applying a continuous gradient fill to multiple grouped objects. For example, to apply one gradient within all of these strokes, so it starts on this side and ends here, firstly, you need to set stroke to None for all of them. This is very important! Then group all of these paths, and with the group selected go to the Appearance panel. Here it should say Group, and not Path or anything else. Now click on the Add New Stroke button here to add a Stroke attribute to this group, increase its weight so you can see it, and then set the stroke to gradient. And now you can edit the gradient the usual way. And you can edit the stroke settings through this stroke attribute applied to all paths in the group. You can edit the paths within the group, move them around, scale or rotate them, and the gradient will fill them according to their new position within the group, the same way as we’ve seen with the fill gradients. Gradient within stroke is the only stroke gradient type which allows you to choose between different stroke to path alignments in the Stroke panel, if you are working with closed paths. And you can take advantage of this feature and very easily create an effect like this. Start by selecting a closed path with a linear gradient within stroke applied to it, and go to the Appearance panel. Here select the stroke attribute and click on Duplicate Selected Item button here. Now open the stroke settings for the top stroke, and set the stroke to path alignment to Outside. Then go to the second stroke attribute, and set the stroke alignment to the Inside instead. After this is done, go and edit the gradient settings for your strokes, for example, change the angle of one of the gradients. And here you have a fun looking object! I usually stop here, but if you want, you can change other gradient settings for one, or both of the stroke gradients, experiment with different stroke weights, and see what you can create. Since we have applied two stroke attributes to one path, it is still just one object in the Layers panel, so you can easily move it around and not worry about misaligning your strokes. But if you want to edit your strokes, you’ll need to do it via the Appearance panel, just as we’ve done with the multiple fills. So, that’s it for the gradients within stroke. Next, let’s move on to even more exciting things, which you can create using gradients along stroke! 15. Using Gradients Along Strokes: The second option for applying gradient to stroke is along the stroke, and this is a super useful feature! With this setting you can very nicely colour monoline lettering or drawings, use it in infographics or in any other types of designs or illustrations which require this sort of playful or dynamic colouring and transition of colours following along with the direction of the paths. This type of stroke gradients only works with the strokes aligned centrally to the paths, so if you are trying to apply it to your path but nothing happens, make sure to set the stroke alignment to centre, and everything will work just fine. If you are working with an open path and creating a linear gradient along stroke, the transition will go from the starting point of the path to the end point and will directly correspond to your gradient slider here. And if you set the gradient type to radial, together these two settings will create a reflected gradient instead, with the colour on the left of the slider being in the centre of the path, and the colour on the right being at the ends. And as usual, you can swap them around using this button. The beginning and end points are obvious when you are working with open paths, but any closed path also has a point which acts as the beginning and the end at once, and when working with gradients along stroke it determines where you gradient starts and ends. It is most obvious when you are using a linear gradient along stroke, for example, like here. And unless you are working with a circle which you can simply rotate to change the way the gradient looks, if you want to change the location of the point on the path where the gradients starts, you’ll need to do it in a couple of steps. Firstly, decide where you want this point to be, and then if the path does not have an anchor point in this spot, switch to the Pen tool and add a point to the path, like this. Then switch to the Direct Selection tool, select just this one point and then go to the Control panel and click on the Cut Path at Selected Anchor Points button here. Your gradient should change the way it goes around your path. Now deselect all, then switch to the Selection tool, select your path and press Command+J, or Control+J in Windows, to join the end points. And here you have a closed path with a new beginning and end point. If you are working with a closed path, you might want to loop your gradient to have a smooth transition of colours all the way around. And there are two ways of doing so. The fastest and easiest way is by setting the gradient type to radial here, and voila, you don’t really need to do anything else. So if you want to have exactly the same colour stops on both sides of your looped gradient, this is the technique to use. On the other hand, if you want to have different colours around the loop, you’ll need to use a linear gradient type instead, and set up your looped gradient manually. Start by Alt-dragging one of the end colour stops to copy it and place it on the other end of the gradient. Then adjust other colour stops in between and add more colour stops to create a clean beautiful transition all the way around. For example, I am going to use all of the colours from this group we’ve created in the beginning of the class. So these are a couple of super easy tricks for creating looped gradients which look great on all sorts of closed paths! Using gradients along strokes you can also create fun circular gradients, for example, like this or this. All you need to do is create a circle, note down its diameter which you can see in the Transform panel, then set its stroke weight to exactly the same value as the diameter, and finally set your gradient along stroke the way you like. If you need to scale this circle up or down, make sure you go to the Transform panel and check Scale Strokes & Effects to scale the stroke weight proportionally with the circle to keep it intact. Since creating this kind of gradients relies on using a circle as a basis, to apply it to any other shape, you’ll need to create a Clipping Mask out of the shape you want to fill with a circular gradient, for example, like this. Apart from having some fun colour transitions along the strokes, you can also create some fading out strokes, if you set the opacity of one of the colour stops to 0%. Or you can have an opaque colour stop or a few of them in the middle of your gradient, and use transparent colour stops at both ends, for example, like this. This is one of my favourite tricks, and there’s a lot of room for experimentation! For example, you can use different colours for your opaque and transparent colour stops, and create not just a simple opacity gradient, but also an interesting colour transition into transparency. And particularly if you are working with open paths, you can have a lot of fun with the cap settings and stroke profiles. You can also experiment with using transparent or not 100% opaque colour stops within your gradients to add some transparency to your work which can be useful for layering your gradient strokes over a background, over some other elements in your design, or over each other. So gradients along stokes are pretty awesome and there are so many exciting ways you can use them in your work! So experiment and see what you come up with! And next, let’s have a look at the remaining type of stroke gradients and a few ways of using them! 16. Using Gradients Across Strokes: The third stroke gradient option here allows you to apply gradient across the stroke, and it can be handy for colouring line lettering or illustrations, but probably the most exciting and useful thing about it is that you can use it to add volume both to the linear elements and to any shapes in your work. Creating a sense of volume within the strokes usually relies on using multiple stroke attributes, and we’ll look into it in the following part, as it is a slightly more complex technique. On the other hand, using gradients across strokes to add an inner or outer shadow or glow to all sorts of shapes, regardless of how odd they are, is rather simple and it offers a lot of creative possibilities! Gradients across strokes can be applied only to strokes centrally aligned to paths, and you can use this technique with any kinds of open or closed paths. I am going to use this organic shape here. Let’s start by applying a linear gradient across stroke, and set up a gradient with 2 stops set to the same colour, and one of them set to 0% Opacity, like this. Since it is a stroke, the spread of this gradient can be controlled using the Stroke weight setting, so let’s go and increase it to have more of a shadow. Because the stroke is aligned to the path centrally, you can see that this gradient starts not at the path but in this case, within the shape. In some situations this might not be a problem, for example, if you are just creating shapes without any fills and you are not really fussed about where the paths actually are. But more often than not, ideally you’d want your gradient to start from the path itself. The easiest way of doing so is by moving this opaque colour stop to the centre and setting its location to precisely 50%. Then Alt-drag the transparent colour stop across to the other side of your gradient to create a copy, like this. Then select this new transparent stop and also set its location to precisely 50%. And here you have it! Now you can reflect the whole gradient by clicking on this button and easily go between having inner and outer shadow, or glow, if you used light or bright colours instead. And then you can fill your shape with a colour, or a gradient, or place it over some background, and experiment with different Blending options, for example Darken or Multiply, if you are creating a shadow effect, or Overlay or Soft Light to have more colour to it, or Screen, if you are creating a glow. Of course, you can also add these kinds of effects using the actual Illustrator effects which can be found in the Stylise section of the Effect menu. But there are quite a few benefits of using stroke gradients instead of the effects. So whenever I can, I use stroke gradients instead of the Outer or Inner Glow effects, firstly, because usually Illustrator works quite a bit faster when you are not using this kind of effects. Secondly, because you can apply stroke gradients to shapes which do not have any fill, so you can have some fun here. Thirdly, because you can easily access and play around with the stroke settings, including the most obvious stroke weight, but also different stroke profiles, or if you don’t have any custom fun profiles, you can also use the Width tool to play around with the shape of your stroke and hence your gradient. And finally, because your can use multiple different colours in your fading out gradients and create some interesting colour transitions into transparency. My favourite way of using this type of gradients is by placing them over some other gradient-filled backgrounds, and creating this kind of liquid effect. So this is a pretty simple but fun technique. Next, let’s have a look at a different way of using gradients across stroke and layering multiple strokes to create an effect of volume and shading within the actual strokes. 17. Shading Strokes with Gradients: The same way as we have added multiple fills to the objects, you can add multiple strokes, and this provides a ton of new creative possibilities for adding volume to stroke-based elements in your work, and it can be particularly useful for shading monoline lettering or monoline drawings with overlapping areas. As an example I am going to use this path here, which already has a gradient along stroke applied to it. And let’s start with the shading technique. Select a stroke you want to shade and go to the Appearance panel. Select the stroke attribute which is already applied to it and click on the Duplicate Selected Item button here. Make sure that your new stroke is above the one which is used to colour the stroke, and that its settings are absolutely the same, and they should be since we have duplicated the previous one. Now select the top stroke attribute and go to the Gradient panel. Here we need to apply a Gradient Across Stroke, set it to linear, and set it up so it shades our stroke. For this we’ll need 3 colour stops. Set the opacity of the middle one to 0, and then go and play around with the colours of the colour stops. I prefer setting all of the colour stops to the same colour just to have an opacity gradient. But you can play around with the colours as it can allow you to create some interesting colouring effects. When shading with darker colours, the transparent colour stop is the middle will be the lightest area of the path, so move it around if you want to have a different lighting effect. Also you can move the midpoints around to control the spread of the gradient. The shading areas might look a bit harsh, especially if you are using very dark colours, so you might be tempted to change the opacity of the colour stops at the edge. Better leave them alone, and go back to the Appearance panel and change the opacity of this whole gradient stroke instead. This looks much better already. But don’t forget that here you can also set the Blending Mode of this gradient stroke. Darken, Multiply, Overlay or Soft Light can be quite good for different levels of shading. So experiment with different colours, opacity and Blending Modes, and see what you can create! If you are after an inner glow effect, rather than shading, use the same kind of a 3-stop gradient with a transparent stop in the middle and simply set the colour stops to some light colour or white, for example, like this. Then set the Blending mode of this stroke gradient to Screen, and adjust its opacity. And then go and adjust the locations of the middle colour stop and midpoints to create the desired effect. Using a similar approach you can also create a highlight which will run along your path, for example, like this. For this, let’s copy this shading gradient, then select the one on top and set its Blending Mode to Screen and Opacity to 100%. And then go and adjust the gradient. In this case, you’ll need an opaque colour stop in the middle, and transparent ones at the ends. Set the colours to any light colour or even white, and then adjust the positions of the colour stops and midpoints. Since this gradient has transparent stops at the edges, you can even pull these end stops inwards, if you want to have a shorter gradient, for example, like this. Now you can go and adjust the Opacity of this highlight gradient, and also explore other Blending Modes. Depending on the colours of your stroke and the colours used in the highlight, apart from the Screen mode, consider checking out Lighten, Overlay and Soft Light to create different effects. If you are after a very simple reflected gradient for shading, inner glow or highlights and don’t mind it being symmetrical, you can also use just two colour stops and set the gradient type to radial here. It can be quite quick to use, but I prefer using linear gradients instead because being able to adjust the position of the middle colour stop in the gradient makes all the difference and makes it much more fun to experiment with. So here’s how you can add shading, inner glow and highlights within your strokes. Experiment with combining these effects with different kinds of strokes, including gradient strokes, but also with solid colour strokes and even strokes filled with patterns. So that’s it for my favourite tips, tricks and techniques for using Stroke Gradients. Next, let’s move on to more experimental ways of creating gradients using a few other tools. 18. Creating Gradients Using the Gradient Mesh Tool: Another great tool for creating gradients in Illustrator is the Gradient Mesh tool. It is designed for making photorealistic illustrations, but when it gets into the wrong hands, exciting experimental abstract designs can be created instead, and that’s what we’ll be concentrating on in this class. To create a gradient mesh you need to start with an object. I’m going to use this new square for it. There are two ways to create a mesh, depending on how precise you want it to be. If you want to set mesh points manually, you can use the Mesh tool. Because this square has a fill colour assigned to it, I can click anywhere inside of it and create mesh points this way. If you have an object which has a fill colour set to none, you will only be able to add mesh points either on the outline of the object or on the mesh lines when they are created. If you want to create an even mesh, you can do it automatically. To do this, select your object with the Selection tool, go to the menu Object and select Create Gradient Mesh. In this window tick Preview to see the changes and set the number of rows and columns. Then select Appearance, I’ll pick Flat as I don’t want to have any automatic highlights which are created using the other two options here, but these options can be useful, so remember that they exist. When you’re happy with the settings, Click Ok to generate your gradient mesh. Gradient Meshes can be created within most filled paths apart from compound paths, so keep in mind that you are not limited to basic geometric shapes. So, either way a Gradient Mesh splits an object into a number of cells, and each point where the mesh lines intersect can have a different colour assigned to it. You can select mesh points either with the Mesh tool or with the Direct Selection tool. And then pick a colour in the Colours panel or from the swatches you have created. This way you can colour an object into a number of colours which transition smoothly into one another. Each point in the mesh is a sort of colour stop, so transitions happen between the points and within every cell. The Mesh tool allows you to select and work with only one point at a time. If you want to select and work with a number of mesh points, you should use the Direct Selection tool instead and Shift+click to select multiple points. This will allow you to colour a number of selected points in your mesh in the same colour and move them together. You can also adjust the mesh lines using either the Direct Selection tool or the Mesh tool. When you select a point with either of these tools, the handles will appear which will allow you to control the curves and keep them smooth by rotating pairs of opposite handles which form a straight line. Apart from the Direct Selection and Mesh tools, you can use the Anchor Point tool. It will allow you to adjust the individual curve handles like this, but the best thing about the Anchor point tool is that if you hold and drag the mouse away from the selected point, you can reset the handles in the default cross position in four directions. This makes it very easy to adjust curves and handles, if you mess something up. If your mesh lines overlap or the handles controlling different points cross you might create this kind of ridges. They look cool, but if you push it too far and create loops and strong overlapping in the mesh it can cause some undesirable defects. Some things here might be just Illustrator anti-aliasing issues, which you won’t see after everything is exported correctly, but things like this are not. So you’ll need to adjust them and move mesh points and lines apart if you want everything to be smooth. Usually I use the Direct Selection tool as it allows to move a number of points at the same time, but the Mesh tool has its own unique feature. If you hold down Shift whilst dragging a mesh point with the Mesh tool, it will follow one of the mesh lines it sits on, which can be super useful if you don’t want to move one of the mesh lines. You’ll also need to use the Mesh tool to add new colour stops to your mesh. In some cases, when you add a new colour stop, the colour will be set to the colour which appears in this particular spot in this transition. So sometimes you might want to adjust your new colour stops to make your gradient more refined and to avoid murky or dull desaturated colours which can be created in your mesh automatically. To delete a mesh point Alt-click on it using the Mesh tool, or select it with the Direct Selection tool and press Delete. If you need to change the Opacity of a mesh point, select it and then set the Opacity to your desired value using the Control panel, Transparency panel or Appearance panel. Using gradient meshes and keeping all of this in mind, you can create a lot of different things, from something really minimalistic to something more experimental. And if you really like the idea of using gradient meshes within some more complex shapes which actually don’t support meshes, you can always fake it by masking a larger gradient mesh within your complex shape or compound path, for example, like I’ve done here. You can find the complete time-lapse process video of me creating this design as a bonus at the end of this class. Unlike when using the Freeform gradients, when using the Gradient Meshes it is not that quick or easy to move the colour stops around, but on the other hand, because the mesh is based on points and lines or curves and the colours are distributed between them, this offers quite a few different options for creating experimental artwork by distorting the structure of the mesh as the colours will follow! So next let’s throw a few distortion tools into the mix and see how they can be used to create even more experimental designs. 19. Distorting Gradient Meshes to Create Experimental Designs: Apart from manually moving the mesh points around and creating some exciting stuff this way, you can also use some other tools with the gradient meshes to distort them and create experimental artworks. Before you start distorting your gradient mesh, it’s a good idea to create a copy of it and keep it as a back-up just in case. Then select the gradient mesh you want to distort with the Selection tool. Having your object selected, go to this button and pick one of the tools here. You can use any of these tools, apart from the Width tool, as it only works with strokes. All of these tools distort objects in different ways, and my favourite tools here are Warp, Twirl, Crystallise and Wrinkle. But the other tools here are cool too, so be sure to check them all out. Each of these tools can be set up by pressing Enter to access this setup window. There are some settings which are shared by these tools, and also there are some settings which are unique to specific tools. But generally they control the size, intensity and level of distortion. So experiment with all these settings and see how they affect your gradient meshes. And here are a few tips to help you stay out of trouble. Firstly, use a low Detail value, such as 1 or 2. It determines the number of points which will be created in your distorted mesh, and it’s best to avoid creating a lot of them, because a lot of points can make your mesh very rough and messy, and they will make your graphic very complex, which can cause your Illustrator to freeze or crash, as there’s a lot of data to process. So if you want the distortion to be more complex, better control it with the Complexity setting where it is available, but try not to go too far here either. If you want to have more controllable and subtle distortions, turn down the Intensity value: the lower the number, the slower the distortion will be when you start using your selected tool. The size of each tool determines the shape within which the points will be moved, and it can be manually set to any value, even though it only allows to set it to a maximum of 400 px through this drop-down menu. And you can have some fun with creating elliptical brushes and playing around with different angles here. Please note that I edited this separate setup menu shot into this video, so you can see what settings I am using, and you will need to apply changes and close this setup menu before you can start using any of the distortion tools. When you close the setup window, you can also change the size of the distortion tools by holding down the Alt key and your left mouse button and dragging your mouse, like this. When you do so, hold down Shift, if you want to constrain proportions of your original distortion tool brush. So, for example, this is what the Warp tool can do. Here’s Crystallise. And here’s Wrinkle. When you use the Wrinkle tool, you can set how much distortion is created vertically and horizontally using these attributes. If you use the Twirl tool, you can control how fast it is applied using the Twirl Rate setting, which goes between –180° and 180°, and the closer it is to 0, the slower it will be. The Twirl Rate setting also allows to switch between twirling clockwise, if you are using negative values and counterclockwise, if you are using positive ones.
 00:06:00.530 --> 00:06:04.130 Experiment with these tools and, depending on how much distortion you want to add to your mesh, either use each of them on their own, or combine with each other in a different order and see what you can create! The results of using some of these tools can be quite rough and if you create very complex distortions, it might affect Illustrator’s performance, so keep it in mind before you go wild with your experiments. One more thing to keep in mind before you start using these tools is whether you want to distort the whole mesh and its edges, or just some points within it. Of course you can pick the points you want to distort using the smaller brush sizes, for example, like this. But it can have some limitations. So if you want to distort only certain points in your mesh, you can select them with the Direct Selection tool before you start using any of the Distortion tools. After distorting your mesh, remember that you can adjust points and curves using the Direct Selection, Mesh or Anchor Point tools to adjust the shapes and transitions in your artwork and eliminate any defects and detangle lines to create smooth gradients and clean ridges, if that’s what you’re after. Whilst you can use gradient meshes within different kinds of shapes, it is best to start with whatever is closest to the final object you want to create. For example, if I want to create a background or a mesh-based design which should fully cover the whole format of my artboard, I would start with a rectangle in the size of the artboard, create a mesh inside of it and then distort it. If I end up distorting the edges, I would either go and adjust the points and curves to fully cover the artboard, or even simply scale the whole mesh for the same purpose. In some cases I also might like just a fragment of the distorted mesh, and in this situation, I would simply put it within a Clipping Mask in the size of my artboard and then scale and position the mesh within it. Surely, this is a lot of extra data, but because the distortion process can be quite experimental, this allows you to create some fun artwork without torturing yourself by trying to recreate a desired distortion within a specific object. Pretty much all of my mesh-based designs are created from fragments of much larger distorted meshes, for example, like this or this. On the other hand, when I want to create a separate object and want to be able to mould it into an organic shape or distort its edges, I usually start with a circle. This makes it super easy to maintain a smooth edge if I want to and just massage it into the desired shape using the Warp tool, for example, like this. The Warp tool in this case is awesome, as you can just go around the shape like this, or you can pull the points out or push them inward. And if you use the Wrinkle tool and distort some parts or the edges of a circle, you can create some fun effects too. For example, this looks almost like an abstract landscape. But of course you can distort the contents and the edges of any gradient mesh object, so there are plenty of options. So this is how you can make some experimental designs based on gradient meshes! Play around with all of these tools and their settings and have fun! And next let’s have a look at another technique for creating experimental gradients. 20. Creating Gradients Using the Blend Tool: Another tool for creating experimental gradients in Illustrator is the Blend tool. It is a super versatile tool, and when it comes to gradients, it allows you to easily make certain effects, which are either not possible or not very easy to create otherwise, and it also makes it possible to create gradient brushes. The Blend tool creates a transition between two or more objects. To have a predictable result, it’s a good idea to start with the objects which are the same in terms of the attributes applied to them, for example, two filled objects, two closed paths with a stroke or two open paths with a stroke. To blend object together, select the Blend tool and click on the objects one after another. If you want to blend a number of objects into separate blends, after you have created the first blend, Command+click, or Control+click in Windows, away from the objects to reset the selection. And then proceed with creating the next blend. If you are blending objects with a stroke or open paths, click on the paths and not on the Anchor points to blend objects together without any issues. If you want to blend more than two objects together, click on all of them in order you want them to be blended in. You can also create a blend by selecting the objects you want to blend with the Selection tool and using the shortcut, which is Command+Alt+B, or Control+Alt+B in Windows. In this case, the order of objects in the Layers panel will determine in which order they blend with each other. And you can change the order of layers here to control which object is on top. You can also get into the isolation mode by double-clicking on the blend, and edit the objects here the usual way: for example, change their colours, resize them, move them around or rotate them. When you’re done editing them, remember to exit the Isolation Mode to be able to work with anything else you have in your document. If you want to release your blend, you can either select your blend and go to the menu Object > Blend and select Release, or use this shortcut, or drag the objects out of the blend group in the Layers panel. By default, Illustrator creates smooth colour blends, and this works well with any objects with a solid fill colour. But when you try to blend gradient-filled or stroked objects it might not work as well as we need it to. So if you don’t want this effect, which by the way is also quite cool, you’ll need to select the blend you want to edit, switch to the Blend tool and press Enter. In this dialog window tick Preview to see the changes, change the spacing method to Specified Steps and bump the number up. The maximum number here is 1000, but don’t go crazy, as this is a lot of data for Illustrator to process. So adjust everything you want here and click Ok. If you are blending strokes together, you can also increase stroke weight to avoid having gaps between the blend steps. It might not be possible to completely avoid the gaps or colours banding, so you’ll need to decide yourself whether you can live with it or carry on adjusting the Blend settings and stroke weight until you get a smooth transition. The super cool thing which is not that obvious about the Blend tool, is that you can control the path the blend follows. This path is called a Blend Spine. You should be able to see it on top inside the blend group, and to change the way your blend is formed you can edit it as you would edit any other path using the Direct Selection or Pen tool. But that’s not all. You can also create your Blend Spine separately, and then replace the existing spine of any blend group. To do this select the blend group and the new path, and go to the menu Object > Blend and select Replace Spine. This can allow you to create a lot of interesting designs. But generally I advise you to stick to not very long open paths. If you are dealing with some elaborate path for your spine, you can also play around with the orientation settings here, which allow you to either align blended objects to page, which keeps them as they are, or align them to path, which rotates them to be perpendicular to the path every step of the way. If you go to the Blend menu again, you’ll find a couple more useful functions. One of them is Reverse Spine, which reverses the order of the objects along the spine. And then there’s another option called Reverse Front to Back, which controls which end of the blend is on top. When blending gradient-based objects, be sure to experiment with changing the angle of the gradients in fills or strokes. Even if you are using just two objects and blending them in a straight line, this will allow you to create different effects! You can create some very cool blends from solid colours, from gradient-filled or even gradient-stroked objects, like these. So experiment with different shapes and overlapping elements to create some interesting 3d-looking designs. Next, let’s check out how you can create Opacity Masks and use them with gradients to create some interesting effects! 21. Using Gradients in Opacity Masks: Apart from using gradients to create vibrant and colourful things, you can also use them as Opacity Masks to create smooth transitions of masked elements into transparency as opposed to Clipping Masks which work with paths and hence create hard-edge masks. Working with Opacity Masks is a little fiddly, and it helps if you have the Transparency panel in front of you, as well as the Layers, Appearance and Gradient panels. To create an Opacity Mask you need an object you want to put inside the mask, and the object which you want to use as a mask. For example, I want to mask this circle filled with a Freeform gradient and use this other circle filled with the black and white radial gradient as a mask. The same as when creating a regular Clipping Mask, the object which you want to use as an Opacity Mask must be on top of whatever you want to mask, To apply this black and white gradient as a mask to the circle below, let’s select both objects, and then go to the Transparency panel and click on the Make Mask button here. As soon as you create an Opacity Mask, in the Layers panel two objects will become one. And in the Transparency panel you will see the object and the mask thumbnails, and you will be able to select one of them at a time. If you don’t see these thumbnails, go to the menu in the top right corner of the Transparency panel, and select Show Thumbnails. When the object’s thumbnail is selected here, you’ll see its appearance attributes in the Appearance panel and you can go and make any adjustments the usual way. For example, I can move the points in my Freeform gradient, like this. On the other hand, if you click on the mask here, you’ll launch the Opacity Mask Editing Mode and will be able to adjust the mask instead. For example, you can switch between different types of fill gradients or adjust the gradient properties using the Gradient panel or the Gradient tool and see how it affects the Opacity Mask in real time. When you are editing the Opacity Mask, your Layers panel will only show the mask object, and when you are done editing the mask, you need to click on the object thumbnail in the Transparency panel to exit the Opacity Mask Editing Mode and go back to all layer in the Layers panel. The gradient which you use as a mask does not have to be in shades of grey, but it does help to make things clearer: black will be transparent, white will be opaque and the shades of grey in between will correspond to different levels of transparency. And if you use some colours instead, level of transparency will be determined by their intensity and equivalent shade in greyscale. But my advice is to stick with shades of grey to be able to predictably adjust your masks. Transparency panel also allows you to invert your mask by checking this box, which can be really cool if you want to quickly try the inverted look, but if you invert your mask, keep in mind that this thumbnail does not update, so now everything is in reverse: white is transparent and black is opaque. And this can make it a little confusing when you start editing your mask. If the mask you are using does not fully cover the elements you are masking, keep Clip checked here to hide what falls outside the mask. In a way it is similar to what the Clipping Masks do, just in this case you can also control the actual opacity gradation within the mask. If you want to take your objects out of the mask, click on the Release button here and your objects will appear as separate elements. So these are the basics of opacity masks. But the fun starts when you begin to experiment with different gradients within your masks and try applying them to different gradient objects. You can also create an Opacity Mask out of a number of objects, for example, like these gradient-stroked paths. And to make it work properly, before you apply the mask, make sure to group all of the elements you want to use as your Opacity Mask. And then proceed as usual. Sometimes when you apply an Opacity Mask, the fill attributes of the masked object would disappear, which is incredibly annoying and I’m not sure what causes it. In this situations, before you create a mask, I recommend putting the object you want to mask in a group, even if it is just on its own, and everything should work just fine. If you want to use overlapping gradient objects as a mask, you will need to use transparent colour stops to make these objects blend together, for example, like this. Generally, Opacity Masks are great for layering elements over each other or over some background. And it is a good idea to have something that you want to be behind your masked element ready before you start finalising your mask. For example, here I have this Freeform gradient on a separate layer, which I want to use as a background. So now I can see how these objects blend together, and can go and edit the Opacity Mask further to create an effect I’m after. I love using Opacity Masks to imitate translucency of colourful objects, to help shape gradients and blend them with the background and to create colourful glow effects. All of these approaches are rather straightforward when you work out what sort of elements can be mixed together to create different effects and require just a little bit of experimentation and getting used to working with Opacity Masks. Opacity Masks can be created from and applied to objects of any complexity, so consider experimenting with different types of gradient objects which you can use as Opacity Masks, layer elements over each other and see what you can create! So that’s it for experimental and more advanced techniques for creating and using gradients in Illustrator. Next I’ll share with you a few of my favourite techniques and approaches for developing and enhancing your gradients & gradient-based artworks. 22. Recolouring Gradients & Designs: Whether you want to fine-tune the colours in your gradients or create new colour iterations of your gradient-based designs, in Illustrator there is a number of tools which make it very easy to edit or replace colours in the existing gradients or artworks, including those which feature multiple gradients. The first method I am going show you is very straightforward and relies on having Global colours in your gradients. If you used Global colours in your work, now if you modify any of the global colour swatches, this colour will change in all artworks it’s been applied to, even if they are hidden. It’s great when you need to make a global change of colours across multiple artworks, and especially if you need to do some minor adjustments to your gradients. When adjusting colours for digital work, I prefer to use the HSB colour mode, as I find it much faster to work with in the context of adjusting colours in gradients, as you can control hue, saturation and brightness independently from each other. But since here you can also select CMYK colour mode, using global colours makes it pretty easy to adjust all of the colours you use in your work for print in CMYK afterwards. So keep this in mind, and we’ll look into converting RGB artwork into CMYK later in this class. Another method of adjusting colours is a bit more playful and experimental, and allows you to change the whole colour palette from one place without a lot of effort. Before you do anything to your work, I suggest you make a copy, so that you can have variants to choose from and look at how your work develops. Then select a copy of your artwork or gradient using the Selection tool and go to the menu Edit > Edit Colours and choose Recolour Artwork. If you have the Assign tab on, you can simply click on the other colour groups here and see how new colours are applied to your work. Make sure you have Recolour Art ticked here to see the changes. Also you can go through the colours from your selected colour group by clicking on the Randomly Change Colour Order button until you get the result you like. This can be fun and can allow you to create some unexpected results. Here you can also see which old colour is replaced by which new one, and you can also swap them around by dragging. The arrow between the old and new colours means that this old colour will be changed. If you click on the arrow you’ll see a dash instead and this will turn off the recolouring for this specific colour. So pay attention to whether you have arrows or dashes here and change them according to your needs. So, this is the Assign tab. Now if you click on Edit, you will see the colour wheel which we briefly looked at before, and you can make further adjustments to your colours by playing around with the settings here. Note that I’ve got a smooth colour wheel set here, as it shows the whole array of available colours on the colour wheel. These two buttons right under the colour wheel allow you to change the wheel from Hue and Saturation one to Hue and Brightness one. And the slider under allows you to control the remaining setting, which is Brightness if you use Hue and Saturation wheel, and it is Saturation if you use Hue and Brightness wheel. If you want to shift the hue of all colours simultaneously, link Harmony Colours here, and then move the whole range of colours around the wheel. Make sure to drag by the larger circle to be able to change the saturation and brightness of all these colours, as well as their hue. If you drag any other colour around to change its saturation or brightness, this will only change this colour and everything else will stay where it is on the colour wheel. But if you drag it to change the hue, if you have harmony colours linked, all the colours will follow the hue shift. If you want to edit individual colours, you will need to unlink the harmony colours here. You might need this if you want to do some minor hue adjustments of individual colours. And of course, you can adjust the colours using these sliders below. If you like the new set of colours you have created, remember that you can save it as a new colour group by clicking on the New Colour Group button here. This way, you can try out and save a number of different colour groups which can be used to colour your work and very quickly and easily choose between them. Your new colour groups will be added to your document swatches only if you apply changes here, and they will be discarded if you cancel the recolouring. So when you are ready, click Ok. So here’s the recoloured work. Before you proceed with experimenting with creating more colour versions or adjusting the colours further, here’s something to keep in mind. The new colour groups created using the Recolour Artwork tool might not contain Global colours, so after you have created them, it is a good idea to convert them all to Global the usual way. And then you’ll need to replace the colours in your work with the new Global colour swatches, which are not yet applied to this work even though the colours look exactly the same. So again select your artwork and open the Recolour Artwork window. Here apply the colour group which now contains Global colours and make sure that each colour is replaced with the corresponding Global colour swatch. And apply changes. And now you can tweak these Global colour swatches and the changes you make will affect the design they are used in. So these are the techniques for adjusting the colours and working with the colour swatches used in your gradients. Editing individual colours offers a lot of control over your gradients and makes it easy to make any desired colour adjustments. But there is another, more experimental way of tweaking colours in your work, and that’s what we’ll be looking at next. 23. Modifying Colours Using Blending Modes: Another way of experimenting with colours in your gradients is by putting multiple objects over each other and using Blending Modes to adjust the final look. The first and the easiest trick for adjusting colours in your designs using Blending Modes is by using solid colour or gradient-filled shapes, which cover the whole artboard format and blending them with the whole designs. For example, when I was developing this design, I felt like I wanted to make this Freeform gradient a little more intense, but I didn’t want to spend time adjusting the actual colour swatches. So instead, I created this square in the size of the artboard, filled it with one of the colour swatches I used in my design and thrown it over the background, but below the rest of the layers. In this sort of situations, to intensify the colours I usually use the Soft Light or Overlay modes and control the intensity using the Opacity setting of this layer. And then play around with the fill colour to achieve the desired effect. In some cases I can also use a simple linear or radial gradient, if I want colours to be affected differently throughout the design. So these are Soft Light and Overlay modes. If you want the colours to be lighter, try using Screen mode, and play around with different lighter colours. Or try Multiply with more intense colours to make your work darker. If you want to experiment even more, you can try out Difference which can give you some fun and unexpected results. Remember that the final look will depend on the colours used in your base design and the colours in the layer you are blending with it. So even if you use something like Difference, you can get very different results just by changing the colours of the object you are blending, for example, like here. Another favourite trick of mine is layering copies of the same object, and then playing around with the Blending Modes and Opacity settings to change the look of the colours. Unlike the previous technique, this one also allows to intensify the actual gradients and create more fun transition, which might not be that easy to nail by editing the colour stops and midpoints. And in these cases I usually use Soft Light and Overlay modes, for example, like here. So these two techniques allow you to adjust hue, saturation and brightness of colours in your gradients pretty much in a few clicks, which makes them super useful for creating design iterations or making colour adjustments without touching the actual designs. But you can also take advantage of the Blending Modes to create some fun colouring effects and that’s what we are going to look at next. 24. Adding Selective Colouring Effects: A super useful trick for adding some exciting colouring and lighting effects to your designs is using fading-out gradients, either Radial, Freeform or Gradient Meshes with the transparency at the edges, and blending them with certain parts in your designs. I often use this technique to add highlights, and set the Blending Mode to Screen. And use either white colour, or slightly off-white tints, for example, like here. You can also use this technique to add an additional pop of colour in certain parts of your designs without modifying the actual objects below. And in this case, you can explore different colours and Blending Modes to create the desired effect. This technique of using fading out gradients is particularly useful when you are already working with some gradient objects, but want to add an extra touch or alter the transition without changing the structure and colour stops in the original gradient objects below, or when you simply cannot achieve the desired look by modifying the colour stops in the base object. For example, this design is pretty much based on Blending Modes and fading-out gradients, as you can see from the layers structure here. And I am not sure if it would be very easy to recreate the same look using other methods, for example, by using some Freeform gradients, but this was a super fast and easy experiment in the days before the Freeform gradients existed, and this design is still one of my favourites from the whole series. So experiment, go a little crazy with layering and blending different fading-out gradients over your designs, and see what unexpected stuff you come up with! You can also use the Blending Modes and additional gradient elements to create more complex colouring effects, and that’s what we’ll be looking at next. 25. Creating Complex Colouring Effects: A slightly more complex technique is using Clipping Masks and blending Freeform gradients or Gradient Meshes with other gradient-based objects which have a 3D look, particularly with blends of gradient-filled objects, like here. Start by creating a desired blend using the techniques I have shared previously and use black to white gradients to create the effect of volume and shading. Then create a copy of your blend, select it and go to the menu Object > Blend, and select Expand. Then assign some solid fill colour to the blend results, and go to the Pathfinder panel and click on the Unite button here. You should see a path in the shape of your blend in the Layers panel. If it is above your original blend, drag it just below the blend group. Now create or bring in the gradient you want to use for colouring. For example, I have this Freeform gradient here. Place it below this path, then select them both and press Command+7, or Control+7 in Windows, to create a Clipping Mask. Now go to your blend group, set its Blending Mode to Overlay, and here you have it! Now you can position the gradient you use for colouring within the Clipping Mask to have a desired spread of colours. But when you do so, make sure you don’t move your Clipping Path in relation to the blend group. This is a super fun technique which I often use in my work to create more playful colouring effects. Don’t hesitate to give it a go, and remember that you can use a number of separate objects and compose them together, but be careful not to create something too complex which your computer or Illustrator won’t be able to handle. And save your file, or even back it up, before you start, just in case. Whilst I like using this order of layers and combination of elements, Blending Modes and colours in the base gradient object, this is not the only way of doing something like this, so if you are feeling experimental, try using different colours in your base object and try blending it with the colourful gradients using different Blending Modes, and see what you come up with! So these are a few more techniques for playing around with colours, so experiment and have fun developing your gradient designs! Next, let’s have a look at how you can overcome unwanted fuzziness and make your gradients smoother. 26. Blurring Gradients: So, sometimes you try your best to create smooth gradients, but for some reason they are not as smooth as you want them to be. Usually this happens to me when I am using the Freeform gradients or Gradient Meshes, and the easiest way to solve this issue is by blurring the problematic gradient. For example, here I have a group with a distorted Gradient Mesh and a couple of fading-out gradients, and whilst it is sort of okay, I would love it to be a little smoother. So let’s create a copy of this group, and then having the top new group selected, go to the menu Effect > Blur. Whilst there is a couple of effects you can use for blurring your gradients, I find that Gaussian Blur allows to achieve the smoothest results, even though it requires a couple of extra steps after applying the effect. So I’ll show you a workflow which I usually use, but if you want, you can also try using the Smart Blur, and see what works for you. So let’s select Gaussian Blur here. This effect is quite straightforward and I find it to be a little easier for Illustrator to handle, and there’s only one setting here, which is the Blur Radius. So let’s check preview here, and try out different radius values. There’s no prescribed size and it will depend on your particular design, and for this object 75 px look quite good. Let’s press Ok to apply changes. And here it is looking much smoother. If you need to change the blur settings later, select your blurred object and go to Appearance panel. Here is your effect, and you can edit it by double-clicking on its name or hide it, or remove it altogether. After applying the Blur effect, if your gradient object had hard edges, you’ll see the edges of your object blurred and the blur will spread outside the original object’s boundaries. And the reason why I kept a copy of this group below is because it allows to bring back the hard edges. If I turn this not blurred group off, you’ll see that the object just softly spreads out. So having the original with the hard edges helps to firstly keep the shape intact, as your blurred shape will just blend with the not blurred one below. And secondly, you can use another copy of the original object to mask out everything which falls outside the shape. Since I am blurring the group, I need to create a copy of this distorted Gradient Mesh here as it defines the overall shape. And put it above the other two groups. Now, because I am dealing with the Gradient Mesh, I cannot create a Clipping Mask out of it. But here is a trick. Let’s select it, fill it with a solid white colour, and then go to the Layers panel and add the blurred group to the selection by Shift-clicking on it. Now having this object and the group selected, I need to go to the Transparency panel, and create an Opacity Mask, the same way as I’ve shown earlier in this class. And that’s it. Now my blurred group is masked and has hard edges, and together with the not blurred group below creates a smooth gradient object without any transparency in it. Because I am working with a Gradient Mesh and have a group of objects, this example is somewhat extreme! So if you are dealing with normal shapes, you can just create Clipping Masks out of them instead. But keep in mind this technique of using Opacity Masks if you are working with distorted Gradient Meshes or objects created using the Blend tool. So this might seem like a complicated process, and if you want, but all means, try using the Smart Blur instead which allows to keep the edges of the objects unblurred. But I find that it usually takes much longer for Illustrator to process the Smart Blur effect in comparison to the Gaussian Blur, and it is faster to create a mask instead. Blurring gradients is a useful technique, but not something which has to done to every design, so keep it in mind for situations when you really need to make your gradients smoother and cannot achieve the look any other way. And in most cases, texturing your gradients is enough to conceal some small graphic issues, and this is what we are going to look at next. 27. Texturing Gradients & Designs: Adding grain to the gradients can make it easier to reproduce them in print, and if you are using your gradients on screen texture can add a different feel to them and also help to avoid visible colour banding. There are a few different ways you can add grain to you work directly in Illustrator, and in this part I’ll share a few of my favourite methods for texturing entire gradient-based designs, as well as separate gradient elements. The first method of texturing your whole design involves applying the grain effect to it as a group, so start by selecting all of the elements in your design, and group them together. Then having this group selected go to the menu Effect, Texture, and select Grain. This will open this window in which you can set up the Grain effect. You can see how it looks in the preview here, and you can zoom in and out to get closer to your intended real size view. Grain effect has a few different controls. The first one to set is Contrast as it controls the overall tone of the image. Best keep it set it to 50% to keep the contrast in the image as it is. If you decide to change it, be sure to check the whole image and make sure that there are no colour bands created by your contrast settings. I’ll set it to 50%. Then there is the Intensity setting which controls the amount of grain added to your image, it’s pretty straightforward and you can tweak it and check the preview until you get the desired look. And most importantly, in this menu here you can choose between different Grain Types. I recommend using Regular or Soft if you want to have a regular colour grain or noise, or Sprinkles if you want to create a worn look. When you change the Grain Type, make sure to adjust the Intensity accordingly. There are other grain types here, but these three on top are my favourites when it comes to texturing gradients this way. You can toggle the visibility of the effect here to quickly see the before and after, and when you are happy with your grain, press Ok here to apply this effect. Now if you go to the Appearance panel, you will see the Grain effect added to the group’s appearance attributes. And as with all other appearance attributes, you can revisit its settings by clicking here. If your grain looks too big, check the Raster Effects settings of your document. To do this go to the Effect menu and click on Document Raster Effects Settings. And in this window set the resolution to 300 dpi. If it is set to 300 dpi, but the grain still looks too big, this is due to the size of your design. My one here is 2000 by 2000 px so the grain is relatively small. So if your grain is too big, go to the Transform panel, check Scale Strokes & Effects and Scale Corners if you are using any, so you do not distort any design elements, and then scale your whole design up until the grain is proportionally right. Applying grain to the grouped design as a whole is great when you are working with colourful gradients and want to preserve their look as much as possible. The only downside of this approach is that it drastically increases the file size and can take a while for Illustrator to process. But we do need some grain, so here’s an alternative method which results in smaller file sizes. Let’s quickly ungroup this design, and since the Grain effect was applied to the group, now it has been discarded. Now let’s create a new layer above our design, and create a rectangle in the size of our design. Next, we need to set the stroke to None, and let’s set fill to some dark shade of grey, for example, like this using this standard colour swatch. Then, keeping just this rectangle selected, let’s go to the menu Effect, Texture and again choose Grain. In this case in Grain Type you will need to choose Stippled. Keep Contrast set to 50, and set the Intensity to 10 for now, but you can revisit this setting later if necessary. So that’s our grain set up, and we can apply the effect. After the grain has been rendered, we need to change the Blending Mode of this rectangle. I usually set it to Overlay or Soft Light, and then turn down the Opacity to about 35%, for example like this. And here we go! Now you can also control the amount of grain by changing the fill colour of this rectangle. Or you can go and change the Intensity of the Grain effect as well, which will give you even more control over the look of your texture. So whilst this grain might not be as complex or as subtle as the grain applied to the group, it still does the job and makes the design look more textured, and here’s the comparison of the file sizes of this design textured using these two methods, and that’s a huge difference! So since now you can see the pros and cons of both methods, you can choose whichever one works best for you in each particular case. So these are the techniques for texturing your overall designs. But you can also use either of them to texture individual elements, and even vary the amount or type of grain between them. If you want to add grain to an element as it is, apply it directly to the object using the first method I’ve shared in the beginning of this part, and this is pretty straightforward. On the other hand, using the second method is a more laborious and advanced technique, but it can allow you to create some really fun effects, especially if you are working with elements which have some transparency in them. For example, here’s a pretty basic fading-out gradient. In order to texture it, let’s start by duplicating this object and then select its copy and go and apply the Grain effect to it. Set the Grain Type to Stippled, and let’s not worry about these settings for now and just apply the effect. Now you can simply change the Blending Mode and Opacity of this object to achieve the desire effect as I’ve shown earlier. Or what can be even more exciting, keep it as it is and instead select this object and the original one below, and create an Opacity Mask out of this grain object. So now the gradient below is only visible through the grain, and this creates a pretty fun graphic look. Depending on the colours in your original gradient and the intensity of the grain, you might want to invert the mask, or adjust the colours in the gradient which has the Grain effect applied to it. Or change the Intensity of the Grain effect. So using this technique you can create some fun grainy gradients and layer them over each other. Just bear in mind that applying Grain effect to multiple elements in your work will slow down your workflow as it takes a while to process the changes you make, and it also increases the file size. So, these are the different techniques for developing and enhancing your gradients and gradient-based designs, and you can mix them with each other when finalising your gradient-based artworks, so be sure to give them a go! And next, let’s have a look at creating different kinds of gradient assets for speeding up your workflow or for sharing them with the world. 28. Gradient Assets: Introduction: Having a range of graphic assets at hand is super useful for trying different things out, and it allows you to recreate elements which you tend to use in your work in no time, and generally helps to get started and get things done easier and faster. When in comes to gradients, the assets you can create include colour and gradient swatches, gradient brushes and graphic styles. And all of these you can create and use yourself, or share them with friends, or even sell as digital products. Let’s start with some tips and tricks for creating and managing gradient swatches. 29. Creating & Managing Gradient Swatches: In the beginning of the class we have created some colour swatches to make it easier to use different colours in gradients. In a similar way to solid colour swatches, you can create gradient swatches to be able to quickly add fill or stroke gradients to the elements in your artwork. Gradient swatches can be created from Linear and Radial gradients set up though the Gradient Panel, but they cannot be based on the Freeform gradients, and they only contain colour information, but don’t take into account position, angle or aspect ratio of the gradients specified with the Gradient tool. This sort of attributes as well as the Freeform gradients can be saved and recreated using the Graphic Styles, which will look at in the next part. But nevertheless, straightforward gradient swatches are probably the most commonly used gradient assets. To create a gradient swatch from an object which has a gradient fill or a gradient stroke applied to it, select this object with the Selection tool, and make sure that in the Tools panel the attribute which has a gradient applied to it is on top. Then go to the Swatches panel and click on the New Swatch button here. Give your swatch a name, and click Ok. The gradient swatch will be added to the main swatches here, and you can now apply it to any fills or strokes. If you have a habit of creating swatches by dragging objects into the Swatches panel, it won’t work with gradients, as this will create a pattern swatch, and not the gradient swatch. To easily create multiple colour versions of your gradient swatches, you can create a shape with the base swatch applied to it and then use the Recolour Artwork tool and any of the recolouring techniques I’ve shared with you earlier in this class. For example, switch between different colours from your chosen colour group. And then, when you apply the recolouring changes to your shape which had an existing gradient swatch applied to it, a new swatch will be automatically added to your Swatches panel. This will also work if you have multiple gradient swatches applied to your design and then recolour it using the Recolour Artwork tool. So by recolouring artwork with existing colour swatches you can very quickly create a range of gradient swatches which follow the same principle but use different colours. Gradient swatches are not exchangeable between different apps, and even if you add a gradient to your Creative Cloud Library it will only add it as a graphic, and not as a gradient swatch. Sometimes this is useful, but it’s always better to save both gradient swatches and the colours used in them in the same swatch library. To save a swatch library, first, remove any swatches you don’t want to appear in your new library. Then go to this menu in the top right corner of the Swatches panel, and either select Save Swatch Library as AI if you plan to use it only in Illustrator, or select Save Swatch Library as ASE if you want to be able to use colours from your library in other Adobe programs. Give you swatch library a name, and click Save. If you don’t specify otherwise, your Swatch library will be saved within the Illustrator folder, and to load it in future, you can go to the same menu, select Open Swatch Library and find it in the User Defined section here. To make it easier to find your swatch file and to be able to share it without going into the depths of Adobe Libraries, consider saving a back-up copy elsewhere. For example, I save my swatches to a folder on the Creative Cloud, which makes it super easy to find the swatches, and that’s how Dominic and I share our swatches between our various devices. So consider creating a number of gradient swatches, and save them as a new swatch library. And have fun using them in your work! A swatch created from a gradient fill and a gradient stroke which have the same type and gradient slider settings will look exactly the same and no other properties will be carried through via the gradient swatch. So if you want to be able to replicate more advanced gradient settings, such as gradient position, angle and scale of fill gradients, or different types of stroke gradients, you’ll need to use Graphic Styles instead. And that’s what we’ll be looking at next. 30. Creating Graphic Styles: Apart from creating basic gradient swatches, you can save all of the appearance settings of your gradient-filled or stroked objects as Graphic Styles, which can include multiple fills, multiple strokes and Freeform gradient fills. Graphic Styles are kept in the Graphic Styles panel, which you can open through the Window menu. To add a new graphic style to the Graphic Styles panel, simply select the object with the desired appearance attributes and click on the New Graphic Style button in the Graphic Styles panel. This will take all of the appearance attributes you can see in the Appearance panel, as well as all of the specific gradient settings, and put them in a style which now can be applied to any other object. To apply a Graphic Style, select the object you want to apply it to, and select the desired Graphic Style here. This will replace the appearance attributes of the object with the attributes saved in the Graphic Style. Alternatively if you Alt+click on the Graphic Style here, it will merge the attributes saved as a Graphic Style with the existing appearance attributes of the selected object. So you can add extra attributes, for example, a Grain effect, on top of everything else you have here. To quickly create different colour versions of your gradient styles, recolour objects with the desired base styles using the Recolour Artwork tool, just as I’ve shown you in regards to the gradient swatches. Although unlike when recolouring swatches, when you apply changes, a new style won’t be automatically added to your Graphic Styles panel, so you’ll need to add each new style manually instead. To use the styles you’ve created later on in other projects or to share them, you will need to save your graphic styles as a separate library. Again, remove any styles which you don’t want to be in your new library, and go to the menu here. The same as with the Swatches, save your Graphic Style Library in the Illustrator folder and keep a back-up somewhere else. To load your Graphic Styles in future, go to this menu, select Open Graphic Style Library and find your library on the list in the User Defined section or elsewhere on your computer. So consider creating a number of Graphic Styles based on your experiments, especially if they involve multiple fills, multiple strokes and effects, as they will save you a lot of time and will make it super easy to recreate certain effects and appearances. You can see an example of how I use graphic styles to speed up my workflow and quickly create a range of different stroke gradient elements in the bonus timelapse process video at the end of this class. Next I’ll share with you a technique for creating gradient brushes and a few tips for using them in your work. 31. Creating Gradient Brushes: Gradient brushes are another type of gradient assets, and you can use them to style strokes in your designs either if you don’t have access to the stroke gradient feature, or if you are into a more painting-like approach and want to be able to quickly fill your composition with gradient strokes. You can create gradient brushes with gradients along and across the stroke, and let’s start with the former. Gradient brushes are build upon smooth blends between shapes in different colours, so to create a gradient brush, you’ll need to start by creating two or more shapes filled with solid colours. I’ll be using these ones here, and you can download this file from the class resources to quickly get started with your brushes. To create brush strokes with round ends, you’ll need to use circles. And to have square ends or to be able to use your brush on closed paths, you’ll need to use squares. Importantly, make sure that all objects are of the same size and keep them at 1 px, 1 pt or 1 mm, depending on the units you are using. So you’ll need to be zoomed in quite a bit to be able to see everything. Align your shapes with each other horizontally, then create a Blend between them, and make sure it is set to Smooth Colour. If necessary play around with the colours or replace them with your swatches to create a desired gradient. When you are happy with the gradient created in your Blend, open the Brush panel, if it’s not in your workspace you can find it in the Window menu. And then drag your blend into this panel. Release your mouse button when the plus sign appears, and in this menu which will pop up select Art Brush and click Ok. In the Art Brush Options window select Stretch to Fit Stroke Length. Set Direction to along the path, left to right. In the options here select Adjust Corners and Folds to Prevent Overlaps. You don’t need to do anything else with the rest of the settings, but you can check them out yourself if you want. And now, let’s click Ok to create this brush. After creating a brush, you can create any path and apply your brush to it. The stroke weight can be now controlled using the Stroke panel the usual way. And if you had 1 px, 1 pt or 1 mm objects in your blend, the stroke weight of the brush will correspond to what you specify here. To create a brush with a gradient across stroke, you will need to create a vertical gradient by blending two or more rectangles or line segments together, for example, like these ones here. Then drag this blend to the Brush panel, and repeat the same steps. Make sure that if the colours in your gradient change vertically, the direction of the brush here is set to left to right. And this is your gradient brush with the gradient across stroke. You can apply it to any strokes, but bear in mind that if you have overlapping strokes, you’ll get this effect which might not be ideal. Once you have set up a few different blends to be used as a basis for your gradient brushes, you can create a number of gradient brushes in different colours. To do this change the colours of the objects forming your blends using your colour swatches or using the Recolour Artwork tool. And then create a new brush from each version. In comparison to the stroke gradients which we looked at earlier in this class, when you use brushes you cannot fully utilise all of the options available in the Stroke panel, apart from the Stroke Weight and Stroke Profile. For example, you cannot use the dashed lines properly, as Illustrator treats every part of the brush stroke as a separate object to colour. Also you cannot change the Cap Style using these settings, as the ends of your brush strokes are determined by the shapes in the blend which your brush is based upon, so even if you change the style here, nothing will happen. For this reason, for each gradient I usually create two brushes: one based on circles, so I can have round caps, and one based on squares to imitate Butt caps and to be able to use my brushes with closed paths. If you are creating brushes based on circles and want to have perfect round caps instead of stretched or squashed ones like this, you can also go to your brush settings and instead of Stretch to Fit Stroke Length here select Stretch Between Guides. Then move the guides a little inward on both sides beyond the point where the brush stroke goes into the semi-circles, like this. Click Ok, and if your brush is already being used, select Apply to Strokes to update the brush appearance in the existing artwork. Generally brushes like this are best used with open paths, and with closed paths you might get something like this instead. But again with a bit of trickery you can shift the end points from the corners and make your gradient brush follow the shape properly. To do this select the Pen tool and add a new point somewhere in the middle of any segment, furtherest away from any kinks or changes of direction. Then pick the Direct Selection tool, select this point on the path and cut your path at this anchor point. Then select your object with the Selection tool and press Command+J, or Control+J in Windows, to close the path. And here you have it! It is the same principle as the one I’ve shown earlier in the part about creating gradients along stroke. And if you want to have a looped gradient, you’ll need to create a gradient art brush which has the same colours at both ends, for example, like this. If you are after simple stroked paths and just use gradient brushes as a workaround, you can use any drawing tools of your choice, such as Pen, Pencil or Paintbrush or apply Brushes to shapes. But the fun starts when you use the Paintbrush tool and set up your gradient brush together with the stroke weight and most importantly stroke profile. And once you set up your brush and stroke settings, all the following brush strokes will be created in the same style, until you change the brush or stroke settings. This way you can quickly and easily draw a lot of custom strokes of the desired weight and shapes. This is pretty much the only way I use gradient brushes and you can watch how I used gradient brushes to create this illustration in the bonus video at the end of this class. To save a set of your gradient brushes as a library, start by selecting and deleting any standard brushes you don’t want to include in your library. Then go to the menu in the top right corner of the Brushes panel and select Save Brush Library. As usual give you brush library a name, and click Save. And the same as with the swatches and gradient styles, save you brushes within Illustrator folder to have quick access to them via this menu and the User Defined section, and save them somewhere else for sharing. So that’s it for creating different kinds of gradient assets. And next we can move on to tips for exporting your gradient designs for use on screen and in print. 32. Preparing Your Work for Output: Whilst technically in Illustrator you can work anywhere on the pasteboard when experimenting, when it comes to preparing your work for output, you need to make sure that the artwork or design you want to export is placed on an artboard of the appropriate size to fit it. You can adjust your artboard’s settings using the Artboard tool, and change its size or position in the Control panel here. To make sure that everything exports correctly, make sure that your artboard does not contain any decimal values in its size of position fields. If you have made any changes to your artboard size or position, re-size your design accordingly and realign it to the artboard, so it is placed correctly and if required covers the whole format, for example like here. When this is done, be sure to save the AI document containing your final work. Then depending on what you want to do with your design next, you can export it in a few different ways. Let’s start with a few tips for exporting your work for digital use and print in RGB. 33. Saving Your Work in RGB: To export your work for digital use or for print via print-on-demand services which accept files in RGB, go to the menu File, Export, Export As. In the Export dialog choose where you want your work to be saved, and give your file a descriptive name here. Then set format to either JPG, if you want to create smaller files for sharing online, or PNG if you want to have better image quality or use some transparency in your design. Then select artboards you want to export. Even if you just have one artboard in your document, you still need to specify the artboard number here. When ready click Export to continue. If you are exporting a JPG, in the next options window select RGB colour mode, set quality to Maximum if you are exporting for print of for high-quality digital use, and choose the desired resolution. I usually export everything at 300 dpi to begin with to have high-resolution print-ready RGB files at hand, and then resize these raster files in Photoshop to share them online. Exporting at 300 dpi takes much longer and produces considerably larger files, so if you want to export your work and quickly upload it online, you can choose 72 dpi instead. If you want to export your work at 72 dpi and share it on social media or in your Skillshare project, make sure that the size of your artboard and design is at least 1200 px on its shorter side to avoid it getting resized and pixelated upon uploading. After you have set the desired resolution, make sure to select Art Optimised anti-aliasing to export smooth gradients and avoid having rough edges, gaps between the paths and other graphic artefacts. And embed the standard sRGB profile to ensure that your colours will be displayed correctly. If you are exporting a PNG, select the desired resolution, also set anti-aliasing to Art Optimised and set the Background Colour to Transparent if there are any transparent or not 100% opaque areas in your design. When ready, click Ok to export your work. And you’re all set for sharing your work online or sending it to print in RGB. Next, let’s have a look at converting your gradient designs for print in CMYK. 34. Converting to CMYK & Saving Your Work for Print: Using gradients in work for print has always been frowned upon by print technicians, as they believe that gradients don’t print well. Of course, it depends on the equipment, but it also hugely depends on what gradients you use in your work, which we have already covered. If you’ve been working in RGB, now it’s time to save a copy of your document, so you don’t make any changes to your original file in RGB. Then convert this copy to CMYK by going to the menu File, Document Colour Mode and choosing CMYK. At this point you might notice all your colours getting dimmer. This is normal. If you have used Global colours in your work, which you should have, now you can go through them and adjust them if necessary. Double-click on the colour you want to edit, and in the Swatch Options window choose CMYK mode. And then go and adjust the values here. Remember, that what you see on your screen is not necessarily how your work will look when printed, so whenever possible contact your print shop, and produce test prints, especially if you are planning a large print run. Go though all of the colours used in your document which need adjusting. And if you have a colour guide, for example, a Pantone Colour Bridge, you can reference it for the specific CMYK values for your desired colours. And when ready go to the menu File, Export, Export As and set format to TIFF, as rasterised gradients stand a better chance of being printed well. Again select the artboard you want to export, and click Export. In the next window set colour model to CMYK, and resolution to 300 dpi. Then make sure that you have Art-optimised anti-aliasing selected here. Check LZW Compression if you want to produce smaller files. If you have installed and used the colour profile used by your printer, you will be able to embed it here. Alternatively embed the standard profile or keep it unchecked and talk to your print shop. Press OK, and you’re done! 35. Final Thoughts & Conclusion: Gradients can be applied to so many different elements in all kinds of designs, illustrations and artworks, and I cannot wait to see how you decide to use them in your work! Since gradients are all about the colours, explore how different colours work together and play off each other. And remember all of the technical rules for creating good gradients which I covered in the very beginning of this class. You don’t necessarily need to create super bright gradients, there are plenty of other options depending on what you want to achieve, so experiment and check out my Gradients Pinterest board for inspiration. Also don’t hesitate to check out my Gradient Studies projects on Behance to see all of my gradient designs in detail. I love using gradients in combination with geometric shapes, and if you too love geometric designs, be sure to check out my other class Mastering Illustrator Tools & Techniques for Creating Geometric Grid-Based Designs. I will be super excited to see your gradient experiments in the project for this class! So be sure to share your work in the Projects & Resources tab here. 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! 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. If you have any questions, please leave a comment in the Discussions tab for this class, and I’ll happily answer and provide feedback! Also don’t hesitate to check out and 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! 36. Bonus: Making of Layered Organic Design: 37. Bonus: Making of Vector Illustration with Gradient Brushes: 38. Bonus: Making of Vector Illustration with Fill & Stroke Gradients: