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!
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
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.
Now keep this circle selected and go to Object > Expand.
2. How to Create a Gradient Mesh in Illustrator
You will see the Expand dialogue box. Just select Fill and Gradient Mesh and then click OK.
Now your circle should look like this. There is a clipping mask on it, which we have to remove.
Keeping your circle selected, go to Object > Clipping Mask > Release (Command-Alt-7) to release the clipping mask.
Now right-click on your circle and click Ungroup (Command-Shift-G) to ungroup.
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.
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.
3. How to Draw a CD Vector Graphic With the Mesh Tool
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.
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.
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.
With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow), select the points as shown below.
Now press the Shift key and select the lower points as shown (the Shift key helps you to select multiple points at once).
4. How to Edit the Mesh Color in Illustrator
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).
Now select eight points symmetrically and add a light purple color.
Add more colors following the same procedure as above; the result will be something like that shown below.
5. How to Finish the CD Vector Graphic
Now make a copy of this circle. Just select it with the Selection Tool and drag it while pressing the Alt key.
Now make a circle of exactly the same size and fill it with a dark gray color.
From the Transparency palette, change the mode to Multiply for that dark gray circle.
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.
Now rotate this group by 90 degrees and scale it a little.
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.
Align them to the center horizontally and vertically.
Now draw a smaller circle, and then make a copy of it and resize that copy as shown below.
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.
Now make one more compound path, but this time we need a thin ring. Then make a small circle.
Align all of these to the center (the two rings and small circle), and then finally group them by pressing Command-G.
Select all and align them to the center.
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.
Now press Command-8 to make it a compound path. We will use it as a clipping mask for our CD.
Select all and align everything to the center. Press Command-7 (Object > Clipping Mask > Make) to make a Clipping Mask.
There you go. Our CD vector graphic is complete!
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!
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.
1. 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)
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!
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)
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)
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:
- How to Make a Grid in IllustratorAndrei Marius15 Jan 2022
- How to Remove the Perspective Grid in IllustratorAndrei Marius14 Jan 2022
- How to Create a Stained Glass Effect in IllustratorAndrei Marius31 Mar 2022
- How to Draw in IllustratorMonika Zagrobelna17 Feb 2022
- How to Set the Brush Pressure in IllustratorMonika Zagrobelna04 Apr 2022
- How to Create a Starburst Background in IllustratorAndrei Marius24 Mar 2022
- How to Create a 70s Background in IllustratorAndrei Marius03 Mar 2022
- How to Create a Nautical-Themed Logo in Adobe IllustratorAndrei Marius07 Apr 2022
Editorial Note: This post has been updated with contributions from Maria Villanueva. Maria is the Associate Editor of the Tuts+ Design channel.