The Gradient Mesh Tool (An Illustrator ‘How To’ Tutorial)

The Gradient Mesh Tool is one of the most amazing tools in Adobe Illustrator.

The Gradient Mesh Tool one of the most powerful feature in Illustrator, yet it can be utterly frustrating. It can turn flat shapes into gorgeous realistic looking objects. It can produce amazingly realistic shading and colouring by just by adding a grid of anchor points. Once you start shading the mesh points the artwork turns into a photorealistic image. Most digital artists find the Gradient Mesh Tool intimidating – and that with good reason. Gradient meshes can become very complex compared to other tools in Illustrator. But as difficult as the Gradient Mesh Tool may seem, it won’t take you long before you gain control of it. Just think about the Pen Tool and how intimidating it was in the beginning, yet now you are a pro with it!

The goal of this tutorial is to illustrate on a specific photo, the all favourite banana, how to use the Gradient Mesh Tool and create a realistic vector banana within a short time. I’ll share some of my tips and tricks with you. For example how to turn a rectangle into a mesh banana. How to add and delete mesh points and how to control the flow of gradient colors with the Mesh Tool. Hopefully this video tutorial will help you tackle the Gradient Mesh Tool to your own satisfaction and you will use it on your own projects. Remember that practice always makes you better at a tool and more proficient.

Just give it a try and most of all have fun.


Tips on the Gradient Mesh Tool:

  • Start with a rectangular shape and add a gradient mesh to it (Object > Create Gradient Mesh)
  • Add Mesh Points with the Mesh Tool (U) in the Toolbar
  • To delete Mesh Points, press and hold the OPTION/ALT Key and with the Mesh Tool (U) selected, click on the mesh point or mesh line to remove it
  • Add mesh lines close to one another to control the spreading of colors
  • Manipulate Mesh Lines and Mesh Anchor Points by adjusting the handles with the Direct Selection Tool (A)
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Simona Pfreundner has been teaching Adobe Creative Suite since 2008 through written tutorials, instructional video courses and classroom teaching. With 15 years experience in the graphic design field as an agency, in-house and freelance designer, her love for art and drawing has enabled her develop an approachable and intuitive style of teaching that helps people learn graphic design software in a fun and easy way.

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