Learn how to use the freeform gradient tool in Illustrator.

Now try it yourself

Open the practice file "make_magic_with_gradients_download.ai".


1. Select the Direct Selection Tool from the tool bar. Then click on the bird's neck.

Select the Puppet Warp tool in the All Tools menu, drag it over the Toolbar and release it when a blue line appears

2. Use the combination Control+F9 to open the Gradient tool.

3. Select Freeform Gradient from the Type section.

Image in progress of girl on swing, with Show Mesh highlighted in the tool panel

Apply gradients with points

4. Close the Gradient tool. Double click on one of the circles on the neck of the bird. The Fill color pop-up window will appear, then select the Swatches icon. Select your preferred color.

Image of girl on a swing with points selected on one hip and one ankle indicating area of movement

5. Repeat the Fill color selection with the other circles.


Tip: You can also change the position of the circles by dragging them with your mouse. Increase or decrease the size of the circles by dragging the outer dotted circle.

Side by side images of girl on swing with placement of pins on hip, knee, and ankle

Apply gradients with lines

6. Use the combination Control+F9 to open the Gradient tool again. Select the Freeform Gradient icon, then select Lines from the Draw section. Create some points on the bird's wing, where you want the gradient to go along. Press Esc on your keyboard when you’re finished.

Image of girl on swing with four pins on one leg from hip to ankle, and a curved arrow indicating movement around one foot

7.  Double-click on the points you just created and add colors to different points along the path from the Fill color pop-up menu.

Close-up of girl's hair with four pins placed for creating movement as she swings

8. Repeat the steps form above for the other parts of the bird to achieve similar results like in the picture below.

Image of girl on a swing with a selection area around her head, Select All Pins is highlighted in tool options

That's it! Now it's your turn to design complex gradients with Illustrator. Download the assets or use your own and share your image on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #MadewithIllustrator to get feedback and connect with other creative minds.


Facebook: http://facebook.com/adobecreativecloud

Twitter: http://twitter.com/creativecloud

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/adobecreativecloud

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL0iAkpqV5YaIVG7xkDtS4Q

Behance: https://www.behance.net/live Join our regular livestreams with real pros, real projects in real time and find inspiration.

Was this page helpful?