As promised, here are some tips on using the blend tool to make gradients in Illustrator. We’ll take the jellybean in the previous post about shading and do this:
First off, if you are unfamiliar with the awesomeness of the blend tool, here is some great reading to get your started:
- Illustrator’s Blend Tool: A Comprehensive Guide — from Vectortuts
- Using and Understanding Masks, Gradients, and Blend Effects in Adobe Illustrator — from Peachpit (this article even has a little section about Gradients vs. Blends)
The Blend Tool really is a great tool that can not only help you create custom gradients, but can help you create custom shapes and effects easily. In this case, I’m using it for creating gradients, but it’s really a fun tool that’s worth playing around with.
People always ask why you’d bother to use the Blend tool to make a gradient as opposed to the Gradient tool. Well, gradients created with the Gradient tool are mostly radial or linear. But sometimes you need a gradient to follow a specific path. In the instance above, I didn’t want the gradient to cover the entire jellybean (you’ll notice there is still some dark green to the left of the highlight, and that’s intentional).
Here’s a comparison between using the Gradient tool with a radial gradient (left image) and the Blend tool (right image):
See the difference in the spread of the gradient? You could probably manipulate the gradient’s size to get the same effect as the blend tool, but the gradient will still be a circle. This jellybean isn’t a perfect circle, so using the Blend tool can help in that aspect because you need the gradient to follow a certain path.
And with the Blend tool, I could also change the shape of the highlight (which was a thin oval to begin with) to also manipulate the gradient. If I needed a shorter highlight, I could do that, or if I wanted to change the curve of the highlight and move it closer to the middle, I could change the original shape and the blend would follow.
Blending is really simple and before you know it, you’ll wind up with a bunch of fun jellybeans: