About blended objects

You can blend objects to create and distribute shapes evenly between two objects. You can also blend between two open paths to create a smooth transition between objects, or you can combine blends of colors and objects to create color transitions in the shape of a particular object.

Note:

Blending objects is not the same as applying blending modes or transparency to objects. For information on blending modes and transparency, see About blending modes.

Once you create a blend, the blended objects are treated as one object. If you move one of the original objects, or edit the original object’s anchor points, the blend changes accordingly. In addition, the new objects blended between the original objects don’t have their own anchor points. You can expand the blend in order to divide the blend into distinct objects.

Example of using a blend to distribute shapes evenly between two objects
Example of using a blend to distribute shapes evenly between two objects

Example of using a blend to distribute color smoothly between two objects
Example of using a blend to distribute color smoothly between two objects

The following rules apply to blended objects and their associated colors:

  • You cannot blend between mesh objects.

  • If you blend between one object painted with a process color and another object painted with a spot color, the blended shapes are painted with a blended process color. If you blend between two different spot colors, process colors are used to paint the intermediate steps. If, however, you blend between tints of the same spot color, the steps are all painted with percentages of the spot color.

  • If you blend between two patterned objects, the blended steps will only use the fill of the object on the topmost layer.

  • If you blend between objects that have blending modes specified with the Transparency panel, the blended steps will only use the blending mode of the top object.

  • If you blend between objects with multiple appearance attributes (effects, fills, or strokes), Illustrator attempts to blend the options.

  • If you blend between two instances of the same symbol, blended steps will be instances of that symbol. If, however, you blend between two instances of different symbols, the blended steps will not be symbol instances.

  • By default, blends are created as knockout transparency groups, so that if any of the steps consist of overlapping transparent objects, these objects will not show through each other. You can change this setting by selecting the blend and deselecting Knockout Group in the Transparency panel.

Create blends

The Blend tool and Make Blend command let you create blends, which are a series of intermediate objects and colors between two or more selected objects.

Create a blend with the Blend tool

  1. Select the Blend tool .
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To blend in sequential order with no rotation, click anywhere on each object, but avoid anchor points.

    • To blend to a specific anchor point on an object, click the anchor point with the Blend tool. When the pointer is over an anchor point, the pointer changes from a white square to transparent with a black dot in its center.

    • To blend open paths, select an endpoint on each path.

  3. When you are finished adding objects to the blend, click the Blend tool again.

    Note:

    By default, Illustrator calculates the optimum number of steps to create a smooth color transition. To control the number of steps or distance between steps, set blending options. (See Blend options.)

Create a blend with the Make Blend command

  1. Select the objects you want to blend.
  2. Choose Object > Blend > Make.

    Note:

    By default, Illustrator calculates the optimum number of steps to create a smooth color transition. To control the number of steps or distance between steps, set blending options.

Blend options

You set blending options by double-clicking the Blend tool  or choosing Object > Blend > Blend Options. To change options for an existing blend, select the blended object first.

Spacing

Determines how many steps are added to the blend.

Smooth Color

Lets Illustrator auto-calculate the number of steps for the blends. If objects are filled or stroked with different colors, the steps are calculated to provide the optimum number of steps for a smooth color transition. If the objects contain identical colors, or if they contain gradients or patterns, the number of steps is based on the longest distance between the bounding box edges of the two objects.

Specified Steps

Controls the number of steps between the start and end of the blend.

Specified Distance

Controls the distance between the steps in the blend. The distance specified is measured from the edge of one object to the corresponding edge on the next object (for example, from the rightmost edge of one object to the rightmost edge of the next).

Orientation

Determines the orientation of blended objects.

Align to Page 

Orients the blend perpendicular to the x axis of the page.

Align to Path 

Orients the blend perpendicular to the path.

Align to Page option applied to a blend
Align to Page option applied to a blend

Align to Path option applied to a blend
Align to Path option applied to a blend

Change the spine of a blended object

The spine is the path along which the steps in a blended object are aligned. By default, the spine forms a straight line.

  • To adjust the shape of the spine, drag the anchor points and path segments on the spine with the Direct Selection tool.
  • To replace the spine with a different path, draw an object to use as the new spine. Select the spine object and the blended object, and choose Object > Blend > Replace Spine.
  • To reverse the order of a blend on its spine, select the blended object and choose Object > Blend > Reverse Spine.

Reverse the stacking order in a blended object

  1. Select the blended object.
  2. Choose Object > Blend > Reverse Front To Back.
    Original stacking order (top) compared to applying Reverse Front To Back command (bottom)
    Original stacking order (top) compared to applying Reverse Front To Back command (bottom)

Release or expand a blended object

Releasing a blended object removes the new objects and restores the original objects. Expanding a blended object divides the blend into distinct objects, which you can edit individually like any object.

  1. Select the blended object.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Choose Object > Blend > Release.

    • Choose Object > Blend > Expand.

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