How to Use the Blend Tool in Adobe Illustrator

You can create fantastic effects on your shapes and letters using the Blend Tool in Adobe Illustrator. It helps to add texture and depth and generally makes your work seem realistic.

There are two ways to use the Blend Tool in Illustrator. One method is to select the Blend Tool from the toolbar. The other method is to go to the overhead menu and choose Object > Blend > Blend Options (Then go back and click Object > Blend Options > Make).

Hi, my name is Rita. I have been using Adobe Illustrator for over five years. The blend tool is one of my favorite drawing tools because it quickly helps me bring my designs to life – plus, it is a quick way to apply gradients to your object.

In this article, I will show you different ways to create cool effects using the Blend Tool in Adobe Illustrator.

Key Takeaways

  • The keyboard shortcuts to make a blend are Alt + Ctrl + B (on Windows) and Command + Option + B (on Mac).
  • You can refine the Blend by going to Object > Blend > Blend Options, where you can specify the number of steps and choose between smooth color transitions or specified spacing.
  • You can modify the blend by selecting it and going to Object > Blend > Expand to convert it into editable vector objects.

An Easy Blend Tool Tutorial in Adobe Illustrator 

As we said earlier, you can use the blend tool by selecting the Blend Tool from the toolbar or using the Blend Tool Options (Object > Blend > Blend Options). 

These two methods work differently. Selecting the Blend tool from the Toolbar works with the default object properties and evaluates the steps between two objects to create a smooth transition.

I’ll show you two examples using two different ways to blend this image below.

Note: All screenshots are from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows Version. Mac and other versions may appear different.

Step 1: Select the objects you want to blend. There should be at least two objects selected. For example, we will use the sample object above for this illustration.

Step 2: Select the Blend Tool from the toolbar.

You will see the small plus sign (+) on the blend tool option.

Step 3: Click on the objects you want to blend and you should see the blend between your objects. Our objects will now look like this.

Our sample looks like this because the Blend Tool automatically applied the Smooth Color effect from the Blend Options.

If you want to see the specific transition from one shape to another, double-click the Blend icon and select specified steps (input the number of steps you want).

Using the Blend Tool from the toolbar can be tricky because it works with the object properties. 

For example, if you selected the Specified steps option earlier, the blend tool will automatically apply those settings when you click it from the toolbar. 

If you are specific about the blend options you want, I’ll advise you to use the Blend Options when blending your objects.

You can add depth by combining two shapes and then using the blend tool to bring them together.

How to Use the Blend Options

Choose the Blend tool from the overhead menu Object > Blend > Blend Options opens up the Blend Options window. Use the different settings in the blend option windows to create a transition effect between the objects.

Step 1: Select your objects. 

Step 2: Click Object > Blend > Blend Options.

Step 3: Choose the Spacing option. 

Spacing is an essential blend option that affects the appearance of your objects. This field is where you determine if you want to smoothen the colors, specify steps, or distance between objects.

Let’s look at the different options under the spacing field.

  • The Smooth Color allows you to blend two colors to form gradient effects. 
  • The Specified Steps blend your objects by creating multiples of them, giving them a beautiful touch. (it shows the transition from one object to another following the different steps).
  • Specified Distance allows you to determine the gap you want between your objects. 

However, when you select the Specified Steps and Distance, you will see default values in the different fields. However, you can input your preferred values.

Orientation determines the appearance of the objects you want to blend. It determines the position of the objects – Whether vertically (portrait) or horizontally (landscape).

Alright, let’s select the best blend options for our objects. 

Click OK to save the settings. 

Step 6: Go to Object > Blend > Make to apply the blending settings on the objects.

See what our object looks like.

You can change the color or direction of your object by clicking Object > Blend > Reverse Spine or Reverse front to back.

That is the result.

How to Blend Text in Illustrator 

You can blend text in Illustrator following these simple steps.

Step 1: Write out the texts you want to blend (you can choose the type option for your fonts in the overhead menu). 

Duplicate the text because you will need to work on more than one.

Step 2:  Select the text and create an outline. You can use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl + O or Select Object > Expand from the overhead menu.

Note: Creating a text outline converts your text to an object and makes it editable.

Step 3: Arrange your text and fill them with different colors. Using different colors makes the blend more obvious.

I will select colors pink and purple for my text. Then, I will resize them before using the Blend Tool. 

I will place the smaller text behind and the more significant text in front to create the ascending effect I want with my text.

You can arrange your text in any way to meet your design intent.

Step 4: Select the text and click Object > Blend > Blend Options.

Use the settings in the blend options windows to determine the blend appearance of your text.

You can use the Specified Steps to edit the number of steps you want to use. 

Choose the number of specified steps you want and your preferred orientation.

Step 5: Select Object > Blend > Make to apply the blend effect. You don’t apply the blend effect when you click Object > Blend >  Blend Option. You only specify your preferred blend settings.

You apply the blend effect by selecting Object > Blend > Make. That is when you blend your objects.

See our blended text.

And that’s it! 

You can make changes to your texts in whichever way you like.

How to Blend Colors in Illustrator 

Here is my favorite part because I love to play around with colors. To blend colors, you must create shapes and choose the colors you want to integrate for each. 

Then, go to Object > Blend > Make. You could also create more effects using the blend options. 

Let’s blend these colors.

Step 1: Fill the shapes with the colors you want to blend. 

Step 2: Select the objects 

Step 3: Object > Blend > Blend Options to select your preferred settings. 

You can use any of these options to blend colors with the blend tool. Note that the options will give different results.

Let’s try out all the options.

The smooth color and specified distance option are a great way to create a beautiful gradient-like color blend.

The specified steps option helps you to create a color palette from the two colors you chose. In the sample shapes, I made five colors.

Since I wanted five colors, I entered the number 3 into the specified steps field. That is because I already had two colors from the shapes I created; adding two to three will make up for five colors.

If you want to create a 6-color palette, then you will enter number 4 in the field. 

That’s it. You’ve just learned how to use the blend tool in Illustrator like a pro.

Final Thoughts 

The Blend tool has many features that can help you create 3D effects on your texts, shapes, etc. The Blend Tool does more than just combine colors, it creates a series of intermediate steps between two or more objects. These steps range from overlapping layers or shapes to blending colors and applying blending effects.

Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments section.

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