How to Use the Gradient Tool in Adobe Illustrator

You must use the Gradient Tool and the Gradient panel to work with Gradients in Illustrator effectively. Go to the toolbar to select the Gradient tool click, double-click to open the Gradient panel (or Window > Gradient), and add gradient colors.

The Gradient panel is where you specify the gradient type and color. You use the Gradient tool to adjust the Gradient’s appearance. You can choose multiple color stops, locations, spread ratio, opacity, etc. 

Hi, my name is Rita. I have been using Adobe Illustrator for over five years. The gradient tool is one of my favorite tools for coloring. I use it to add detail, depth, flare, and life to texts and objects.

In this tutorial, You’ll learn how to use the Gradient tool in Adobe Illustrator so that you can add Gradients to objects, shapes, or text.

Key Takeaways

  • A gradient is not only a mix of two color or more colors.
  • You can create or modify a Gradient using the tool or panel.
  • The Gradient tool and the Gradient panel have some options in common. However, there are some tasks that you can only perform with the Gradient tool or panel.
  • The black-and-white Gradient is applied by default when you click the Gradient tool.

Where is the Gradient Tool in Adobe Illustrator

Applying a Gradient to text and objects is simple. There are a couple of ways to open the Gradient panel or add gradient colors.

For example, you can find the Adobe Illustrator Gradient tool in the toolbar between the fill and stroke icons and from the appearance panel (when you have a selected object) or select the Gradient from the toolbar.

Note: All screenshot is from the Adobe Illustrator CC Windows Version. Mac and other Versions may appear different. 

You can also find it from the Appearance panel if you have initiated the gradient tool earlier.

Or as I mentioned before, open the panel from the overhead menu Window > Gradient

How to Add Gradients to Objects in Illustrator

I’m going to show you how to add a Gradient to the circle shape below. You can use the same method to add gradients to any other shapes.

Are you ready? Let’s go. 

Step 1: Choose the Gradient tool from the toolbar or use the keyboard shortcut G.

Step 2: Click on your shape to see the Gradient bar (you will see the gradient bar across the object). Notice that the shape color is now black and white. 

Don’t panic! That is the default Gradient color.

Step 3: Change the Gradient color. If you don’t want the black and white color, click the circles on the Gradient bars to change the color (do this one at a time). Choose your preferred color from the Swatches panel.

If you want to add more colors, you can click the Gradient bar to add more colors. 

Click beneath the rectangular slider to add a new color. You will notice the + sign near the circles. Use the plus sign to add a new color.

Use the Gradient slider to adjust the color grades to meet your preference. 

You can rotate the Gradient bar, add more colors, or change the Gradient style from the Appearance Panel

That’s it! Easy! Besides objects, you can also add gradients to text in Adobe Illustrator.

How to Add Gradient to Text in Adobe Illustrator 

Adding Gradient to text is almost the same process as adding Gradient to an object, except you need to add one more step because you can’t add gradients to live text

When you try to change the text color to a gradient color, you’ll notice that the color won’t change. 

You need to convert the live text to an object.

Select the text, go to Object > Expand to convert the text to an object, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Command + Shift + O to outline the text

Now you should be able to add a gradient to text.

How to Save Gradient in Adobe Illustrator 

Want to save a gradient color for future use?

You can easily save your beautiful Gradient from the Swatches panel by following the steps below.

Step 1: Select the shape filled with a gradient. The fill color will appear on the swatches panel.

Step 2: Click on the fill color and drag it to the swatches below. Alternatively, you can click on the Swatches menu in the top-right corner of the Gradient panel.

Step 3: Click on Swatches Libraries Menu > Saves Swatches to save your gradient color. 

Step 4: Save it as a swatch file and name it. Naming your saved Gradient will help you remember the exact Gradient when you need to use it later.

You can find the saved gradient from the Swatch Libraries Menu. You can use your saved swatches in any other Adobe Illustrator document.

That’s it! You’ve just learned how to use the Gradient Tool in Adobe Illustrator.

Final Thoughts

Using the Gradient tool in Illustrator is easy, but making the color mix might be a bit challenging initially. But once you get familiar with the colors, you’ll make a beautiful mix quickly. 

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

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