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  1. Illustrator User Guide
  2. Get to know Illustrator
    1. Introduction to Illustrator
      1. What's new in Illustrator
      2. Common questions
      3. Illustrator system requirements
      4. Illustrator for Apple silicon
    2. Workspace
      1. Workspace basics
      2. Learn faster with the Illustrator Discover panel
      3. Create documents
      4. Toolbar
      5. Default keyboard shortcuts
      6. Customize keyboard shortcuts
      7. Introduction to artboards
      8. Manage artboards
      9. Customize the workspace
      10. Properties panel
      11. Set preferences
      12. Touch Workspace
      13. Microsoft Surface Dial support in Illustrator
      14. Undo edits and manage design history
      15. Rotate view
      16. Rulers, grids, and guides
      17. Accessibility in Illustrator
      18. Safe Mode
      19. View artwork
      20. Use the Touch Bar with Illustrator
      21. Files and templates
    3. Tools in Illustrator
      1. Tools at a glance
      2. Select tools
        1. Selection
        2. Direct Selection
        3. Group Selection
        4. Magic Wand
        5. Lasso
        6. Artboard
      3. Navigate tools
        1. Hand
        2. Rotate View
        3. Zoom
      4. Paint tools
        1. Gradient
        2. Mesh
        3. Shape Builder
      5. Text tools
        1. Type
        2. Type on a Path
        3. Vertical Type
      6. Draw tools
        1. Pen
        2. Add Anchor Point
        3. Delete Anchor Point
        4. Anchor Point
        5. Curvature
        6. Line Segment
        7. Rectangle
        8. Rounded Rectangle
        9. Ellipse
        10. Polygon
        11. Star
        12. Paintbrush
        13. Blob Brush
        14. Pencil
        15. Shaper
        16. Slice
      7. Modify tools
        1. Rotate
        2. Reflect
        3. Scale
        4. Shear
        5. Width
        6. Free Transform
        7. Eyedropper
        8. Blend
        9. Eraser
        10. Scissors
        11. Dimension
    4. Generative AI (not available in mainland China)
      1. Generate a vector graphic using a text prompt
      2. Recolor your artwork using a text prompt
    5. Quick actions
      1. Retro text
      2. Neon glow text
      3. Old school text
      4. Recolor
      5. Convert sketch to vector
  3. Illustrator on the web (beta)
    1. Illustrator on the web (beta) overview
    2. Illustrator on the web (beta) FAQ
    3. Troubleshooting issues FAQ
    4. Keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator on the web (beta)
    5. Create and combine shapes on the web
    6. Add and edit text on the web
    7. Apply colors and gradients on the web
    8. Draw and edit paths on the web
    9. Work with cloud documents on the web
    10. Invite collaborators to edit on the web
  4. Illustrator on the iPad
    1. Introduction to Illustrator on the iPad
      1. Illustrator on the iPad overview
      2. Illustrator on the iPad FAQs
      3. System requirements | Illustrator on the iPad
      4. What you can or cannot do on Illustrator on the iPad
    2. Workspace
      1. Illustrator on the iPad workspace
      2. Touch shortcuts and gestures
      3. Keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator on the iPad
      4. Manage your app settings
    3. Documents
      1. Work with documents in Illustrator on the iPad
      2. Import Photoshop and Fresco documents
    4. Select and arrange objects
      1. Create repeat objects
      2. Blend objects
    5. Drawing
      1. Draw and edit paths
      2. Draw and edit shapes
    6. Type
      1. Work with type and fonts
      2. Create text designs along a path
      3. Add your own fonts
    7. Work with images
      1. Vectorize raster images
    8. Color
      1. Apply colors and gradients
  5. Cloud documents
    1. Basics
      1. Work with Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Share and collaborate on Illustrator cloud documents
      3. Share documents for review
      4. Upgrade cloud storage for Adobe Illustrator
      5. Illustrator cloud documents | Common questions
    2. Troubleshooting
      1. Troubleshoot create or save issues for Illustrator cloud documents
      2. Troubleshoot Illustrator cloud documents issues
  6. Add and edit content
    1. Drawing and dimensioning
      1. Drawing basics
      2. Edit paths
      3. Draw pixel-perfect art
      4. Draw with the Pen, Curvature, or Pencil tool
      5. Draw simple lines and shapes
      6. Draw rectangular and polar grids
      7. Draw and edit flares
      8. Image Trace
      9. Simplify a path
      10. Symbolism tools and symbol sets
      11. Adjust path segments
      12. Design a flower in 5 easy steps
      13. Create and edit a perspective grid
      14. Draw and modify objects on a perspective grid
      15. Use objects as symbols for repeat use
      16. Draw pixel-aligned paths for web workflows
      17. Measure and plot dimensions
    2. 3D objects and materials
      1. About 3D effects in Illustrator
      2. Create 3D graphics
      3. Map artwork over 3D objects
      4. Create 3D Text
      5. Create 3D objects
    3. Color
      1. About color
      2. Select colors
      3. Use and create swatches
      4. Adjust colors
      5. Use the Adobe Color Themes panel
      6. Color groups (harmonies)
      7. Color Themes panel
      8. Recolor your artwork
    4. Painting
      1. About painting
      2. Paint with fills and strokes
      3. Live Paint groups
      4. Gradients
      5. Brushes
      6. Transparency and blending modes
      7. Apply stroke on an object
      8. Create and edit patterns
      9. Meshes
      10. Patterns
    5. Select and arrange objects
      1. Select objects
      2. Layers
      3. Group and expand objects
      4. Move, align, and distribute objects
      5. Stack objects    
      6. Lock, hide, and delete objects
      7. Copy and duplicate objects
      8. Rotate and reflect objects
      9. Intertwine objects
      10. Create realistic art mockups
    6. Reshape objects
      1. Crop images
      2. Transform objects
      3. Combine objects
      4. Cut, divide, and trim objects
      5. Puppet Warp
      6. Scale, shear, and distort objects
      7. Blend objects
      8. Reshape using envelopes
      9. Reshape objects with effects
      10. Build new shapes with Shaper and Shape Builder tools
      11. Work with Live Corners
      12. Enhanced reshape workflows with touch support
      13. Edit clipping masks
      14. Live shapes
      15. Create shapes using the Shape Builder tool
      16. Global editing
    7. Type
      1. Add text and work with type objects
      2. Create bulleted and numbered lists
      3. Manage text area
      4. Fonts and typography
      5. Convert text within images into editable text
      6. Add basic formatting to text
      7. Add advanced formatting to text
      8. Import and export text
      9. Format paragraphs
      10. Special characters
      11. Create type on a path
      12. Character and paragraph styles
      13. Tabs
      14. Find missing fonts (Typekit workflow)
      15. Arabic and Hebrew type
      16. Fonts | FAQ and troubleshooting tips
      17. Create 3D text effect
      18. Creative typography designs
      19. Scale and rotate type
      20. Line and character spacing
      21. Hyphenation and line breaks
      22. Spelling and language dictionaries
      23. Format Asian characters
      24. Composers for Asian scripts
      25. Create text designs with blend objects
      26. Create a text poster using Image Trace
    8. Create special effects
      1. Work with effects
      2. Graphic styles
      3. Appearance attributes
      4. Create sketches and mosaics
      5. Drop shadows, glows, and feathering
      6. Summary of effects
    9. Web graphics
      1. Best practices for creating web graphics
      2. Graphs
      3. SVG
      4. Slices and image maps
  7. Import, export, and save
    1. Import
      1. Place multiple files
      2. Manage linked and embedded files
      3. Links information
      4. Unembed images
      5. Import artwork from Photoshop
      6. Import bitmap images
      7. Import Adobe PDF files
      8. Import EPS, DCS, and AutoCAD files
    2. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator 
      1. Creative Cloud Libraries in Illustrator
    3. Save
      1. Save artwork
    4. Export
      1. Use Illustrator artwork in Photoshop
      2. Export artwork
      3. Collect assets and export in batches
      4. Package files
      5. Create Adobe PDF files
      6. Extract CSS | Illustrator CC
      7. Adobe PDF options
      8. Document info panel
  8. Printing
    1. Prepare for printing
      1. Set up documents for printing
      2. Change the page size and orientation
      3. Specify crop marks for trimming or aligning
      4. Get started with large canvas
    2. Printing
      1. Overprint
      2. Print with color management
      3. PostScript printing
      4. Print presets
      5. Printer's marks and bleeds
      6. Print and save transparent artwork
      7. Trapping
      8. Print color separations
      9. Print gradients, meshes, and color blends
      10. White Overprint
  9. Automate tasks
    1. Data merge using the Variables panel
    2. Automation with scripts
    3. Automation with actions
  10. Troubleshooting 
    1. Known issues
    2. Crash issues
    3. Recover files after crash
    4. File issues
    5. Supported file formats
    6. GPU device driver issues
    7. Wacom device issues
    8. DLL file issues
    9. Memory issues
    10. Preferences file issues
    11. Font issues
    12. Printer issues
    13. Share crash report with Adobe
    14. Improve Illustrator performance

Learn how to create gradients of different types in Illustrator.

A gradient is a graduated blend of two or more colors or tints of the same color. You can use gradients to create color blends, add volume to vector objects, and add a light and shadow effect to your artwork.

In Illustrator, you can create, apply, and modify a gradient using the Gradient panel, the Gradient tool, or the Control panel.

Gradient types

In Illustrator, you can create the following three types of gradients:

  • Linear
    Use this gradient type to blend colors from one point to another in a straight line.
  • Radial
    Use this gradient type to blend colors from one point to another point in a circular pattern. 
  • Freeform
    Use this gradient type to create a graduated blend of color stops within a shape in an ordered or random sequence such that the blending appears smooth and natural. Freeform gradient can be applied in two modes:
    • Points: Use this mode to shade the area around a color stop.
    • Lines: Use this mode to shade the area around a line.

A color stop is a point on the Gradient Annotator (for linear and radial) or on the object (for freeform) that controls the gradient's color. You can change the color of the color stops to set a gradient 

Examples of Linear, Radial, and Freeform gradients, using three different color blends

A. Linear gradient B. Radial gradient C. Freeform gradient (Points) 


Linear and Radial gradients can be applied on the fill and the stroke of an object. The Freeform gradient can be applied only on the fill of an object.

Gradient tool and Gradient panel

You can create or modify a gradient using the Gradient tool or the Gradient panel. Use the Gradient tool when you want to create or modify gradients directly in the artwork and view the modifications in real-time.

To open the Gradient tool, select Gradient Tool in the toolbox.

Adobe Illustrator deeplink

Practice in the app
Create color blends in a few simple steps.

To open the Gradient panel, do one of the following:

  • Choose Window > Gradient.
  • Double-click the Gradient tool in the toolbar.

The Gradient panel is displayed on the canvas.

Gradient panel options
Options for linear and radial gradient (A-R) | Options for freeform gradient (R-V)

A. Active or previously used gradient B. Drop-down list for existing gradients C. Fill color D. Stroke color E. Reverse Gradient F. Gradient Annotator G. Color stop H. Mid point I. Color Picker J. Gradient types K. Edit Gradient (visible only when you switch to other tools in the toolbar) L. Stroke types M. Angle N. Aspect Ratio O. Delete Stop P. Opacity Q. Location R. Fill or stroke (with color) S. Color Stop T. Spread U. Freeform gradient V. Freeform gradient modes 

The Gradient tool and the Gradient panel have many options common between them. However, there are some tasks that you can perform only with the tool or the panel. Using the Gradient tool and the panel, you can specify multiple color stops, their location, and spread. You can also specify the angle at which colors display, the aspect ratio of an elliptical gradient, and the opacity of each color.

You can enable the real-time Drawing and Editing feature to enhance the live appearance of objects when you work on them. To enable this feature:

[Windows] Choose Edit > Preferences > Performance > Real-time Drawing and Editing.

[macOS] Choose Illustrator > Preferences > Performance > Real-time Drawing and Editing.

Gradient Annotator

For the linear and radial gradient types, when you click the Gradient tool in the toolbar, Gradient Annotator appears in the object. Gradient Annotator is a slider that shows a starting point, an end point, a midpoint, and two color stops for the starting and end points.

Gradient Annotator for a Radial Gradient

A. Gradient Annotator B. Dotted ring C. Point to change aspect ratio  D. Rotation cursor E. Point to resize radial gradient F. End point (arrow point) G. Color stop H. Mid point I. Selected color stop J. Origin point 

You can use Gradient Annotator to modify the angle, location, and spread of a linear gradient; and the focal point, origin, and spread of a radial gradient. Once the gradient annotator appears in the object, you can either use the Gradient panel or Gradient Annotator to add new color stops, specify new colors for individual color stops, change opacity settings, and drag color stops to new locations.

To hide or show the gradient annotator, choose View Hide Gradient Annotator or View > Show Gradient Annotator.

In linear and radial gradient annotators, dragging the circular end (starting point) of the gradient slider repositions the origin of the gradient and dragging the arrow end (end point) increases or decreases the range of the gradient. If you place the pointer over the end point, a rotation cursor appears that you can use to change the angle of the gradient.

Note: Freeform gradient lets you place color stops anywhere in the object. Therefore, Freeform gradient doesn’t require a Gradient Annotator.

Apply a predefined gradient

When you click the Gradient tool to apply a gradient for the first time, the White, Black gradient is applied by default. If you had applied the gradient previously, the last used gradient is applied on the object by default.

Illustrator also provides a predefined set of gradients that you can set using the Gradient panel or the Swatches panel. In addition, you can create a gradient and save it in the Swatches panel for future use. To apply a predefined or a saved gradient from the Gradient panel:

  • Select the object on the canvas and click the Gradient drop-down in the Gradient panel.

To apply a predefined gradient from the swatch library:

  • Click Window > Swatches to open the Swatches panel.
  • In the Swatches panel, click the drop-down in the upper-right corner. In the list, choose Open Swatch Library > Gradients and then choose the gradient you want to apply.
  • To display only gradients in the Swatches panel, click the Show Swatch Kinds drop-down list and choose Show Gradient Swatches
Selecting a predefined gradient from the Swatch library

Create and apply linear, radial, and freeform gradients

Based on your requirements, you can choose to apply a linear, radial, and freeform gradient to your artwork.

Applying different types of gradients

Create and apply a linear gradient

To create a linear gradient, do one of the following:

  • Click the Gradient tool and then click the object on the canvas. The Gradient Type buttons are displayed in the Control panel or Properties panel. With the object selected, click Linear Gradient to apply the Linear gradient on the object.
  • In the Gradient panel, click Linear Gradient.
  • In the Properties panel, click Linear Gradient in the Gradient section.

Create and apply a radial gradient

To create or apply a radial gradient, do one of the following:

  • Click the Gradient tool and then click the object on the canvas. The Gradient Type buttons are displayed in the Control panel or Properties panel. With the object selected, click Radial Gradient to apply the Radial gradient on the object.
  • In the Gradient panel, click Radial Gradient.
  • In the Properties panel, click Radial Gradient in the Gradient section.

Create and apply a freeform gradient

To create and apply a freeform gradient, do one of the following:

  • Click the Gradient tool and then click the object on the canvas. The Gradient Type buttons are displayed in the Control panel or Properties panel. With the object selected, click Freeform Gradient to apply the Freeform gradient on the object.
  • In the Gradient panel, click Freeform Gradient.
  • In the Properties panel, click Freeform Gradient in the Gradient section.

After you click Freeform gradient, the following two options are available:

  • Points: Select this option if you want to create color stops as independent points in the object.
  • Lines: Select this option if you want to create color stops over a line segment in the object. 

To copy a freeform gradient from one object to another, use the Color Picker tool in the toolbar.

Create freeform gradient in points mode

Do the following to create, modify, and delete the freeform gradient for the point mode:

  • To add one or more color stops, click anywhere in the object.
  • To change the position of color stops, drag them and place at the desired location.
  • To delete the color stop, drag them outside the object area or click Delete in the Gradient panel or press the Delete key.
Example of creating a freeform points gradient, adding, and deleting color stops

Set spread for freeform gradient in points mode

You can set the spread of a color stop in the points freeform gradient. Spread is the circular area around the color stop in which a gradient is to be applied. To set the spread of a color stop, select the color stop and do one of the following:

  • In the Gradient panel, select or type a value in the Spread drop-down list.
  • Type a value in the Spread drop-down list in the Control panel, Properties panel, or Gradient panel. You can also use slider that appears when you click Spread.

By default the spread of color stops is 0%.  

Changing the spread of a freeform line gradient


Spread is supported only for the point mode.

Create freeform gradient in lines mode

To add color stops for the freeform gradient for line mode, do one of the following:

  • Click anywhere in the object to create the first color stop, which is the starting point for the line segment.
  • Click to create the next color stop. A straight line is added connecting the first and the second color stops. 
  • Click again to create further color stops. The straight line changes into a curved line. 

You can create multiple individual line segments in an object. To create a new line segment:

  • Drag the pointer outside the object and bring it back to the object and then click anywhere to create the first color stop for the line segment.

Note: You can also drag the line segments and join them together if you want.

To delete the selected color stops:

  • Drag them outside the object area or click Delete in the Gradient Panel.

To change the position of color stops:

  • Drag the color stop and place it at the desired location. The line segment also shrinks or expands when you change the position of a color stop. The position of other color stops remains unchanged.
Example of creating a freeform line gradient, adding, and deleting color stops


When you apply a gradient, the default experience is applied on the selected object. To disable this feature, you can deselect the Enable Content Aware Defaults option in the Edit Preferences > General (Windows) or Illustrator Preferences General (Mac OS) menu. This option is disabled for the Windows 32-bit machine.

Modify gradients

You can modify the color, origin, opacity, location, and angle of a gradient from the Gradient tool, Gradient panel, Control panel, and Properties panel. 

To directly enter into the gradient editing mode from the Gradient panel, select the object and click the Edit Gradient button. You can then edit the options, such as color stops, color, angle, opacity, location, aspect ratio, etc.

Example of modifying a Linear Gradient

A. Shades of the same color B. Two different colors C. Modified angle D. Resized annotator E. Changed location 

Example of modifying a Radial Gradient

A. Two different colors B. Changed origin within the dotted ring C. Changed location of Gradient Annotator D. Changed aspect ratio E. Changed mid-point location 

Add and modify color stops

After a gradient is applied, you can add various color stops on the Gradient Annotator.

To add color stops:

  • Place the pointer on the Gradient annotator and when you see a + symbol below the pointer, click the Gradient Annotator. 

A color stop is added at the point you click.

To delete a color stop, select the color stop and do one of the following:

  • Press the Delete key.
  • Click the Delete button in the Gradient panel.

To select multiple color stops, press the Shift key and click the color stops.

To clear all the selected color stops, press the Escape key.

NoteWhen you select a color stop for gradient, the Control panel and the toolbar show options for modifying color stops. In addition, the color options are displayed on the Color tab to the right.

Modify color

To change the color of a color stop, do one of the following:

  • Double-click the color stop.
    The color panel is displayed in which you can choose a color you want to apply. The selected color is applied from the currently selected color stop to the next color stop.

A. Color stop B. Spread C. Opacity D. Color E. Swatches F. Color Picker G. Swatch colors 

  • Click the Swatches button on the color panel to choose a color from the available swatches. 
  • Click Color Picker on Color panel to pick and apply any color from the canvas and apply anywhere. Press Escape or Enter to exit the color picker mode. The Color panel, Gradient panel, and Properties panel provide the color picker option.
  • Open the Swatches panel by clicking Windows > Swatches. Click the object fill in the Swatches panel. The selected color is applied on the selected color stop.
Changing color using the Color panel

Modify origin, resize and rotate gradient annotator

The starting point of Gradient Annotator is called origin.

  • To change the origin, place the pointer on the starting point and drag to move it.
  • To resize the gradient annotator, drag the end point closer to or away from the starting point.

    Gradient Annotator can’t be resized with the starting point (origin).
Changing the origin of linear and radial gradients

Resizing the annotator for linear and radial gradients

  • To rotate the gradient annotator for Linear gradient, hold the end point of the gradient annotator. When you see a circular arrow symbol, drag the annotator and rotate in any direction. A dotted rectangle is displayed to indicate the new position of the annotator.
  • To rotate the gradient annotator for Radial gradients, place the pointer on the end point of the Gradient Annotator and drag the annotator when a circular arrow symbol appears.
    When you place the pointer within the radius range of the radial gradient, a dotted ring is displayed. You can rotate this ring along its axis to change the angle of the radial gradient. In addition, two points are displayed on the dotted ring. You can click one of those points to change the shape of the ring (aspect ratio) and click the other point to change the size of the dotted ring (spread of the gradient).

Modify location

To change the location of color stops and their midpoints:

  • Drag them along the gradient slider.
  • Add the value in the Location box in the Gradient panel. (show example of changing location of color stop).

By changing the midpoint, you can adjust the color division between the two color stops. 

Modify angle

To change the angle of the gradient:

  • Rotate the gradient annotator on the object.
  • Select or type a value in the Angle drop-down box in the Gradient panel.

Modify opacity

To change the opacity of the color stop, click a color stop and do one of the following:

  • Select or type a value in the Opacity box in the Gradient panel or Control panel. 
  • Move the opacity slider in the Control panel.

When a color stop has an opacity value less than 100%, the color appears in the checkered form in the Gradient annotator.

Reverse gradient

To reverse the colors in the gradient, click Reverse Gradient in the Gradient panel.

Save gradients as swatches

To save the new or modified gradient as a swatch in the current file, do one of the following:

  • Click the Add to Swatches button in the Gradient Menu.
  • Click the swatches menu in the Swatches panel and choose New Swatch.
  • Drag the Gradient fill box from the Gradient Panel to the Swatches panel. 

To use the gradients for future sessions, save the gradients in the Creative Cloud library.

Apply gradients on stroke

To apply a gradient on stroke of the object, select the object and do the following:

  1. Select Stroke(X) from the toolbar, Swatches panel, Gradient panel, or Properties panel.

  2. Choose a gradient in the Gradient panel.

  3. Select one of the following stroke styles:

    • Apply gradient within stroke
    • Apply gradient along stroke
    • Apply gradient across stroke

Apply gradients across multiple objects

To apply a linear or a radial gradient for multiple objects, do the following:

  • Apply gradient on one object. Select the other objects that you want to fill with same gradient. To do this, click the Selection tool from the toolbar. Hold the Shift key and click the objects that you want to fill with same gradient.
  • Select the Color picker tool from the toolbar and click the gradient. Then, select objects on which the selected gradient is to be applied.
  • Click the Fill icon in the Gradient panel, toolbar, or Properties panel.

Using the Gradient tool, do one of the following:

  • To create a gradient with one Gradient annotator, click anywhere on the canvas where you want the gradient to start, and drag to where you want the gradient to end. 
  • To create a gradient with a Gradient annotator for every selected object, click in the artboard where you want the gradient to start, and Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (macOS) to where you want the gradient to end. You can then adjust the different gradient sliders for the different objects. (Multiple gradient sliders are only created for simple paths.)


If you want to create a single, multicolored object on which colors can flow in different directions, use a mesh object. For details, see Meshes.


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