Discover the different types of gradients available in Illustrator and apply both linear and radial gradients to artwork.
This sample file is an Adobe Stock asset you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.
What you learned: Create, apply and edit both linear and radial gradients to artwork
What is a gradient?
A gradient is a graduated blend of two or more colors or tints of the same color.
Apply a default linear gradient
You can apply a gradient to the stroke or fill of selected artwork. Here’s how:
1. Select the artwork that you want to apply the gradient to.
2. In the Properties panel, click the Fill color or Stroke color, depending on which part of the artwork you want to apply the gradient to. With the Swatches option selected in the panel that appears, you’ll see several default gradient swatches. Click to apply the default White, Black gradient.
Note: If you don’t see the default White, Black gradient swatch, you can find it by choosing Window > Swatch Libraries > Default Swatches > Print. In the panel that appears, click to apply the gradient.
Tip: Illustrator has a series of default gradients you can try. By choosing Window > Swatch Libraries > Gradients, you’ll find a number of gradient libraries to choose from.
Edit colors in the gradient
After applying a gradient, you can then edit the gradient in the artwork.
- With the Swatches panel still showing, click Gradient Options to open the Gradient panel.
In the Gradient panel, you can adjust the type of gradient, the angle of the gradient, the colors in the gradient, and more. The gradient shows as a gradient slider toward the bottom of the panel with circles below it, called color stops, that represent the colors in the gradient.
To adjust the colors in the gradient:
- Double-click any of the color stops (circles) below the gradient slider to show different color options and change the color.
- To add a color to the gradient, move the pointer just below the gradient slider and click when a plus (+) shows next to the pointer. Drag any of the color stops to adjust how the gradient blends.
- To remove a color stop, click one and either drag it away from the gradient slider and release, or click the trash can to the right of the gradient slider.
Modify the gradient in the artwork
Aside from adjusting the options in the Gradient panel, you can also adjust the direction and length of a gradient in the artwork.
- Select the Gradient tool in the toolbar. In the selected artwork you’ll see the gradient annotator, which shows the gradient slider and the color stops. Double-click a color stop on the artwork to edit the color, drag the color stops, click beneath the gradient slider to add new color stops, and more.
- To change the direction and length of the gradient, press and drag in a direction across the artwork. The angle you drag determines the direction of the gradient, and the distance you drag determines the length.
Tip: To swap the colors in a gradient, or reverse them, you can click the Reverse Gradient button in the Gradient panel.
Save the gradient as a swatch so you can apply it again later
- With a shape selected, click the Fill color in the Properties panel, and with the swatches showing, click the New Swatch button to name the gradient and save it so you can apply it again elsewhere.
Change the gradient type to a radial gradient
You can change the gradient type for any gradient you apply.
- Apply the gradient to the fill of another shape using the Fill color in the Properties panel.
- To change the type to radial, click the Radial Gradient button at the top of the Gradient panel or in the Gradient section of the Properties panel.
- Using the Gradient tool, you can then draw to adjust the gradient within the artwork.