How to Use the Gradient Tool in Adobe Illustrator

The Gradient Tool works with the Gradient Panel. The panel is where the gradient type and colors are specified. The tool is used to adjust the appearance of the gradient.

  1. In this example, a spherical bubble will be created. Using the Ellipse Tool, create a perfect circle by holding down the Shift key as you draw the shape.
    Ellipse Tool
  2. Go to the Gradient Panel [ Gradient Panel Icon ], make sure Fill is active and select Radial from the Type menu.
  3. The Gradient Panel has several moving parts. Above the Gradient Ramp is a Midpoint Marker which allows you to adjust the physical point within the object where there will be 50% of each color. Underneath are two Color Stops that allow you to adjust the physical location in the object where 100% color starts to feather.
    Gradient Panel
  4. To change the colors, double-click each of the Color Stops. A pop-out panel will open. To select a color from the swatches, click the Swatches button, then choose the color you want.
    Gradient Panel
  5. Gradients can be made up of as many colors as you wish. To add a color, go to the, Swatches Panel, click and hold on a swatch, then drag it onto the Gradient Ramp. You'll see a vertical line intersecting the ramp.
    Gradient Panel
  6. The circle would look more spherical if the highlight was off-center. To adjust it, select the Gradient Tool from the Tool Bar. A bar will appear on the circle. When you hover over it, you'll see it's actually a Gradient Ramp.
    .Gradient Tool
  7. Position your cursor where you want the highlight located, then drag to the opposite point on the circle.
    Gradient Tool
  8. The gradient is adjusted.
    Circle with Adjusted Gradient
Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her classes. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint, to produce a fully developed and cohesive brand identity.

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