Gradients in Adobe CS5 Illustrator - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

You can use Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5) Illustrator to create and apply gradients. Gradients are used to apply smooth metallic effects or just to add dimension to illustrations. If you’re not sure which swatches are considered gradients, choose Gradient from the Show Swatch Kinds button at the bottom of the Swatches panel.

After the Gradient panel is applied, you can access it by choosing Window→Gradient. If the Gradient options are not visible, choose Show Options from the Gradient panel menu to see more options.

The Gradient panel.
The Gradient panel.

On the Gradient panel, use the Type drop-down list to choose a Radial gradient (one that radiates from the center point) or a Linear gradient (one that follows a linear path).

Use the Gradient tool to change the direction and distance of a gradient blend:

  • Select an object and apply any existing gradient from the Swatches panel to its fill.

  • Choose the Gradient tool (press G) and drag in the direction you want the gradient to go.

    Drag a long path for a smooth, long gradient. Drag a short path for a short, more defined gradient.