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22 Fun Gradient Mesh Tutorials in Adobe Illustrator for Beginners

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Gradient Mesh is often seen as a tough area to master in Adobe Illustrator. This week we've focused purely on beginner content for those who wish to get into meshing but want to know the basics. These aren't the only tutorials we have on Tuts+, in fact I'd like to share with you many of our others.

By the way, you can find a fantastic selection of Illustrator gradients on Envato Elements. This set of 16 Watercolor Gradient Backgrounds, for example, gives you access to a range of useful, easy-to-use gradient backgrounds.

Gradient Mesh Week

We posted several tutorials, screen cast and written, to help ease you into mastering Gradient Mesh. Check out the ones you may have missed or revisit those handy beginner tutorials.

  • Create a Simple Drawing Manikin with Gradient Mesh in Illustrator

    Drawing manikins are used to help us create a correct pose, but we never draw them as they really are. Maybe it's time to pay tribute to them, along with the Mesh Tool? Whether you have problems with gradient mesh, or you're total beginner to Illustrator, this is the tutorial for you! Are you ready?

  • Create Simple Flowers With Gradient Mesh in Adobe Illustrator

    Follow this tutorial and learn how to create beautiful flowers with the help of the Gradient Mesh function in Adobe Illustrator. We will start with the shape of the petal then using the Gradient Mesh we will add the mesh points and color it. After this, we will compose the flower followed by the stamens in the center. For them, we will use a custom Scatter Brush along with the Transform effect and the Gradient Mesh of course. We will continue with adding details on the petals with the help of the Blend Tool, Pucker & Bloat and Transform effects. We’ll finish with adding shadows and trying other color versions. Let’s begin!

Gradient Mesh: Quick Tips

The Gradient Mesh can be a difficult tool to learn. Let us start off with some handy quick tips that will give a solid overview on how to use it and even tame it!

  • Quick Tip: How to Tame the Gradient Mesh

    The Gradient Mesh can be one of the hardest tools to control. Even professional Illustrators can be heard crying out in frustration at its seemingly random actions. You can overcome these feelings of frustration by learning some techniques that will make your job easy and fun. This quick tip will teach you two handy mesh taming techniques that will save you time and help you overcome the "Gradient Mesh blues".

  • Tips for Working with the Gradient Mesh Tool

    One of the most amazing and confounding tools in Adobe Illustrator is probably the Gradient Mesh tool. Working with this feature allows the user to divide almost any shape into a mesh. Each intersection of two lines (horizontal/vertical) can be colored with a solid color. This tutorial takes a different format than some of our other tuts, and will help you work with the Mesh tool better.

  • Quick Tip: How to Cut a Gradient Mesh

    In my experience, I needed to cut a Gradient Mesh. Looking for the solution on forums didn't work out for me, so I thought it was impossible! The Knife and Scissors Tool are used for cutting vector objects but cannot be applied to the Gradient Mesh. So I thought that this problem would stay unsolved, but thankfully, that was not the case. As Pushkin, the great Russian poet, wrote: "And the case, the god of the inventor." Look how easily it can be done.

  • Quick Tip: Create Gradient Mesh Brushes in Illustrator With Mesh Tormentor

    Adobe Illustrator has two great features, Gradient Mesh and custom Brushes. The problem is they don't work together, even though it would be an amazing time saver. The good news is that there is a plugin which allows you to combine the two and it's called Mesh Tormentor. Follow this quick tip tutorial and I'll show you how.

Tutorials Ideal for Beginners

Here are some great tutorials to test your new skill on!

  • Make an Aurora Borealis Design in Illustrator

    To recreate the light patterns of the Aurora Borealis you’d probably turn to Photoshop’s filters and effects. Use Illustrator however, and you’ll not only achieve a stunning end result, but you’ll also benefit from the flexibility of working with vectors. This is an intermediate level tutorial rewarding you with an attractive desktop wallpaper for your efforts!

  • How to Create a Set of Heart Icons in Adobe Illustrator With the Mesh Tool

    Follow this tutorial and learn how to create a set of cute heart icons: a "Love you" banner heart, a broken, a post-it note and a devil heart. The heart is made with the help of the Mesh Tool (U) in Adobe Illustrator and it’s rather easy to create as well. You will also discover other techniques so let’s begin!

  • How to Create Vector Clouds with the Gradient Mesh Tool

    Create impressionistic, infinitely-scalable vector clouds with the Gradient Mesh tool. It’s easy to start, but it takes a lot of time to master. There are several ways of approaching the Gradient Mesh – this one may be new to you. Let’s get started!

  • Illustrate a Pair of Sweet Gradient Mesh Cherries

    In this tutorial, we’ll explain how to create a pair of cherries solely with the Gradient Mesh tool. If you’re not familiar with the Gradient Mesh tool, then this is a great tutorial to learn how to start using it. You can create artwork with a semi-realistic to very realistic look with that tool. It can take effort to master, but it’s worth your time.

  • Make a Shiny Gum Ball Machine with Mesh Gradients

    In this tutorial, we'll explain how to create a gum ball machine with mesh gradient. We'll create the base, the glass casing, the money slot, and the opening where the bubble gum balls come out. This is an advanced tutorial and the pace is fairly quick. Intermediate Illustrator knowledge is required.

Fancy a Bit More of a Challenge?

Once you've mastered the basics and have tried some of our beginner tutorials, kick it up a notch and try some of these more challenging projects.

  • How to Create a Realistic Reindeer with Gradient Mesh in Adobe Illustrator

    Did you know Rudolph was a female? Only reindeer ladies have their horns in winter. But, it's not why I'm here. The reason is I'd like to show you how to draw a realistic reindeer with fluffy fur, using Gradient Mesh and more, in Adobe Illustrator. Moreover, you don't need to be a professional to learn it! Ready to try?

  • Create a Photo-Realistic Candle with Gradient Mesh

    Gradient Mesh can be intimidating for novice and experienced Illustrator users alike, but sophisticated results can be achieved with a simple mesh and careful coloring. This tutorial will set you on the road to mesh mastery. Let's get started!

  • How to Create a Cute Valentine's Puppy with Gradient Mesh in Adobe Illustrator

    Valentine's Day is coming! It's perfect time to show someone your feelings, and what can be better for it than self-prepared valentine card, with a red heart and a cute puppy whose sad eyes make the hardest of partners go awww? Maybe only a herd of kittens... Never mind. Don't hesitate any longer, love can't wait!

  • Using Meshes to Create a Detailed Skull With Adobe Illustrator

    Can you imagine Halloween without skulls? Me neither. In this tutorial I'm going to show you how to create a skull in Adobe Illustrator, using gradient meshes. And once you are done, Miss Chat*Z will show you how to transform the scary skull into decorative Day of the Dead icon in a later tutorial. So get your Mesh Tool at the ready, let's get creating!

Gradient Mesh on Tuts+ Premium

If you’re a Tuts+ Premium Member, you have available a series of video courses which are designed for beginners and upwards for a variety of Adobe Illustrator needs. These are just some of the awesome courses available to access right now! The beauty is, you can preview some of the initial videos without a membership, to see if getting a Tuts+ Premium subscription is right for you.

Mastering Gradient Mesh in Illustrator

From photo-realistic 3D to subtle shapes and shades of color, you can achieve some stunning effects with the gradient mesh tool. If you’re comfortable with Illustrator and ready to jump into advanced illustration techniques, this is the course for you. Join us as Cheryl Graham teaches us how to effectively use the gradient mesh tool in any illustration project.

Happy Meshing!

We hope this article helped clarify the Gradient Mesh tool and give you ideas on how to use it in your future projects! Happy creating and don't forget to follow us over on Twitter and Facebook!

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