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How to Create a Radial Mesh in Illustrator and Make a Vector CD

Read Time: 8 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Ever wondered about how to use the mesh tool in Illustrator? In this Adobe Illustrator mesh tool tutorial, you'll learn about the possibilities of this tool. In the first part of the tutorial, you'll learn how to create a mesh in Illustrator (without using any third-party plugin). Next, we'll create a CD vector graphic using the radial mesh method.

If you're a graphic designer or an Adobe Illustrator fan, maybe you're looking for the best source of add-ons to save you time. Envato Elements is the best option for you. The subscription-based marketplace offers you unlimited downloads of Illustrator add-ons and top digital creative assets, like this one. Scroll down after the Adobe Illustrator mesh tool tutorial to find more!

You can get this cool 80s Gradient Effect Kit from Envato Elements.You can get this cool 80s Gradient Effect Kit from Envato Elements.You can get this cool 80s Gradient Effect Kit from Envato Elements.
You can get this cool 80s Gradient Effect Kit from Envato Elements.

But what if you prefer video tutorials or you don't have the time to read through a written tutorial? Then visit the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel. There you'll find amazing and free video tutorials, like this new video by Andrei Marius on how to use the mesh tool in Illustrator:

What You'll Learn in This Gradient Mesh Illustrator Tutorial

  • How to make a radial gradient circle
  • How to create a gradient mesh in Illustrator
  • How to draw a CD vector graphic with the Mesh Tool
  • How to edit the mesh color in Illustrator
  • How to finish the CD vector graphic

1. How to Make a Radial Gradient Circle

Step 1

Before learning how to make a mesh, we need to make a circle in Illustrator using the Ellipse Tool, and then fill that circle with a simple radial gradient.

create a circlecreate a circlecreate a circle

Step 2

Now keep this circle selected and go to Object > Expand.

keep this circle selected and go to Object > Expand.keep this circle selected and go to Object > Expand.keep this circle selected and go to Object > Expand.

2. How to Create a Gradient Mesh in Illustrator

Step 1

You will see the Expand dialogue box. Just select Fill and Gradient Mesh and then click OK.

Expand dialogue boxExpand dialogue boxExpand dialogue box

Step 2

Now your circle should look like this. There is a clipping mask on it, which we have to remove.

circle with gradientcircle with gradientcircle with gradient

Step 3

Keeping your circle selected, go to Object > Clipping Mask > Release (Command-Alt-7) to release the clipping mask.

release the clipping maskrelease the clipping maskrelease the clipping mask

Step 4

Now right-click on your circle and click Ungroup (Command-Shift-G) to ungroup.

ungroup the circleungroup the circleungroup the circle

Step 5

Deselect your circle by clicking anywhere on the artboard (white area). Now select your circle again and move it slightly away from its initial position. You will see another path, which was actually the path for the clipping mask—just select this path and delete it as we don't need this.

delete the other pathdelete the other pathdelete the other path

Step 6

Now you have to make the radial polar mesh. You can create it by adding some mesh points with the help of the Mesh Tool in Illustrator.

This concludes the first part of this tutorial, in which you learned the basic method of making a radial mesh. You can use this radial mesh to create many radial things like a CD, or if you put some more effort in you can create alloy rims for a wheel too. For now, I'm showing you how to create a CD out of this radial mesh.

make the radial polar meshmake the radial polar meshmake the radial polar mesh

3. How to Draw a CD Vector Graphic With the Mesh Tool

Step 1

Now that you've seen how to make a mesh, let's make a mesh vector design. Now to make it a CD, select it with the Selection Tool (black arrow) and fill it with gray.

circle with a gray fillcircle with a gray fillcircle with a gray fill

Step 2

With the help of the Mesh Tool in Illustrator, add four mesh points as shown. These points should be exactly in the middle of the previous points; otherwise, the direction lines would be a bit twisted and it would take time to straighten them.

 add four mesh points  add four mesh points  add four mesh points

Step 3

With the help of the Mesh Tool, add some more mesh points as shown below. These points might not be straight as shown in the image; you have to straighten them with the help of the Mesh Tool. Using the Mesh Tool, click on the direction lines and slightly twist them to make them straight.

add some more mesh pointsadd some more mesh pointsadd some more mesh points

Step 4

With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow), select the points as shown below.

select pointsselect pointsselect points

Step 5

Now press the Shift key and select the lower points as shown (the Shift key helps you to select multiple points at once).

select lower pointsselect lower pointsselect lower points

4. How to Edit the Mesh Color in Illustrator 

Step 1

Now that you have four points selected, choose a light blue color with the help of the color sliders (please don't select a dark color as it will not look good).

 choose a light blue color  choose a light blue color  choose a light blue color

Step 2

Now select eight points symmetrically and add a light purple color.

select eight points symmetrically and add a light purple color.select eight points symmetrically and add a light purple color.select eight points symmetrically and add a light purple color.

Step 3

Add more colors following the same procedure as above; the result will be something like that shown below.

Add more colorsAdd more colorsAdd more colors

5. How to Finish the CD Vector Graphic

Step 1

Now make a copy of this circle. Just select it with the Selection Tool and drag it while pressing the Alt key.

make a copy of the circlemake a copy of the circlemake a copy of the circle

Step 2

Now make a circle of exactly the same size and fill it with a dark gray color.

make a circle of the same size and fill it with a dark gray color.make a circle of the same size and fill it with a dark gray color.make a circle of the same size and fill it with a dark gray color.

Step 3

From the Transparency palette, change the mode to Multiply for that dark gray circle.

change the mode to Multiplychange the mode to Multiplychange the mode to Multiply

Step 4

Now select the first mesh circle and the dark gray circle, align them to the center (both horizontally and vertically), and Group them by pressing Command-G.

align the circles to the centeralign the circles to the centeralign the circles to the center

Step 5

Now rotate this group by 90 degrees and scale it a little.

rotate this group by 90 degreesrotate this group by 90 degreesrotate this group by 90 degrees

Step 6

Select this group along with that copy we took earlier, while keeping the copy on the top. You can arrange it and bring it to the front.

arrange it and bring it to the front.arrange it and bring it to the front.arrange it and bring it to the front.

Step 7

Align them to the center horizontally and vertically.

Align them to the center horizontally and vertically.Align them to the center horizontally and vertically.Align them to the center horizontally and vertically.

Step 8

Now draw a smaller circle, and then make a copy of it and resize that copy as shown below.

draw a smaller circle, and then make a copy of it and resize that copydraw a smaller circle, and then make a copy of it and resize that copydraw a smaller circle, and then make a copy of it and resize that copy

Step 9

Now select both of these small circles and align them to the center. Press Command-8 (Object > Compound Path > Make), to make a compound path of these two small circles.

align and  make a compound path align and  make a compound path align and  make a compound path

Step 10

Now make one more compound path, but this time we need a thin ring. Then make a small circle.

make a thin ring and a small circlemake a thin ring and a small circlemake a thin ring and a small circle

Step 11

Align all of these to the center (the two rings and small circle), and then finally group them by pressing Command-G.

align and groupalign and groupalign and group

Step 12

Select all and align them to the center.

Select all and align them to the center.Select all and align them to the center.Select all and align them to the center.

Step 13

Now make two circles. One should be about the size of our CD, and the other one should be about the size of the hole in the CD. Select both of these circles and align them to the center.

 make two circles make two circles make two circles

Step 14

Now press Command-8 to make it a compound path. We will use it as a clipping mask for our CD.

make it a compound pathmake it a compound pathmake it a compound path

Step 15

Select all and align everything to the center. Press Command-7 (Object > Clipping Mask > Make) to make a Clipping Mask.

make a Clipping Maskmake a Clipping Maskmake a Clipping Mask

Step 16

There you go. Our CD vector graphic is complete!

complete CD vector graphic complete CD vector graphic complete CD vector graphic

It's Done! Your Mesh Vector Design Is Complete!

As a final touch, you can add a drop shadow by going to Effects > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Also, you could write some text or make a simple background. And our image is complete. Have fun applying radial meshes to other objects!

mesh vectormesh vectormesh vector
Here's the finished mesh vector CD we made in Illustrator.

5 Top Resources From Envato Elements

Now you how to create a mesh in Illustrator and how to draw a CD with this tool. If you want to keep practicing your Illustrator skills or you need more inspiration, here are some great resources for you.

Everything on Envato Elements is included with your subscription. Download unlimited Illustrator add-ons, graphics, icons, and more! 

1. 80s Gradient Effect Kit (GRD, AI)

80s Gradient Effect Kit (GRD, AI)80s Gradient Effect Kit (GRD, AI)80s Gradient Effect Kit (GRD, AI)

If you liked the gradient effect on the CD vector final result, here's an easy way to recreate it. This gradient effect kit includes ten gradients suitable for Photoshop, Illustrator, and Affinity Photo. These cool gradients are inspired by the 80s aesthetic, so check them out.

2. Vivid Gradients Backgrounds (EPS, JPG)

Vivid Gradients Backgrounds (EPS, JPG)Vivid Gradients Backgrounds (EPS, JPG)Vivid Gradients Backgrounds (EPS, JPG)

Here's another great option if you're looking for gradient vector graphics. The pack comes with 30 high-definition JPG gradients and 10 gradient vector EPS files with editable meshes. Try these out for more CD vector projects!

3. Shader Brushes For Adobe Illustrator (AI)

Shader Brushes For Adobe Illustrator (AI)Shader Brushes For Adobe Illustrator (AI)Shader Brushes For Adobe Illustrator (AI)

If Illustrator brushes are more your thing, check out this pack. The download includes 22 brushes for drawing borders, adding shadows to your illustrations, or making textures.

4. Gradient Backgrounds (JPG)

Gradient Backgrounds (JPG)Gradient Backgrounds (JPG)Gradient Backgrounds (JPG)

Looking for more gradient effects and backgrounds? Here's a complete pack of 25 gradient backgrounds (5000x5000 pixels, 300 DPI, CMYK). Use them for any design project you've got in mind!

5. Music and Instruments Icons (AI, EPS, PNG, PSD, SVG, FIG)

Music and Instruments Icons (AI, EPS, PNG, PSD, SVG, FIG)Music and Instruments Icons (AI, EPS, PNG, PSD, SVG, FIG)Music and Instruments Icons (AI, EPS, PNG, PSD, SVG, FIG)

And finally, if you're after music vector icons, this is the kit for you. The pack comes with 60 icons in many popular file formats. It's a great kit if you need a CD vector icon ready to use!

Discover More Illustrator Tutorials and Resources

I hope you enjoyed this gradient mesh tool Adobe Illustrator tutorial. If you're looking for even more Illustrator resources, check these out before you leave:

Editorial Note: This post has been updated with contributions from Maria Villanueva. Maria is the Associate Editor of the Tuts+ Design channel.

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