Hello everyone, as mentioned in the previous article here is part two of the gradients article where I will be going through tips, tricks and techniques on working with them and create eye catching designs.

I will begin with the most simple tip there is on gradients — keyboard shortcut. After you have created a solid colored circle (A1) hit “.” and that will apply a gradient to your shape (A2).

Next step would be to show some examples related to color combinations when it comes to gradients.

One of the most important criterias when it comes to creating mixes of colors is to go with two toned gradients created with analogus colors — colors that emerge from the previous tone, i.e. yellow emerges from orange [B1].

All this can be seen in any color wheel that contains the six main colors — Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple.

An example of creating contrast in gradients is by using two colors where one side uses a dark tone and another has a light color [B6].

Smoothness in gradient design is key. Try to avoid creating color combos that are harsh [C1] and instead try and go with something with a nice transition [C2].

When applying a gradient start from the outside of the circle and end it as well on the outside as opposed to ending it at the very margin. 

A good example of how this type of smooth gradient can be applied in an actual logo is the Tinder logo. Please notice the smoothnes of what seems to be a 45° radial gradient and how it gives a nice and warm feeling to the logo. The power of gradients!

In example [D1] we have a 4 tone gradient with a retro color combo. This allows to create a 2D render and because of the highlights, midtones and edge darker color we managed to give some depth to this circle.

The same rule of starting and ending the gradient outside the circle applies here as well.

Here’s how you can use the gradient from D1 for your illustration projects.

Calm on the lake by Patryk Wojciechowicz

Gradients can also be applied within a stroke or a Path with adjustable angles — 90° as seen in E1. 

If you want to take the gradients applied within a stroke from [E1] a step further go ahead and apply it along a stroke [F1].

This is a great technique I often use when I have to work with paths in my logo designs.

Since we used the same 4 toned gradient from previous examples this created a starting point and end.

If you want to apply a gradient along a path in a seamless way all you need to do is ensure the start and end colors are the same as seen in [G1] in our case Red is the initial and final color in the gradient tab.

An example of how the gradient from [G1] can be used in logo design by applying it to a continuous path.

Circles / Connection / Unity / Letter C Logo by Mihai Dolganiuc

A cool feature that was introduced is the Freeform gradient [H1] where you can add points and tweak them in order to obtain a great effect. 

As mentioned previously in example [B6] where we have two sides, one dark and one light which allows to create strong contrasts using techniques such as

Dividing the shape in half [I1]

Radial gradients that are scaled down — Looney Tunes screen effect [I2]

Or basic light tricks involving highlights and darker colors that can also be reversed to obtain an effect such as [I3]. 

Example based on the approach from [I3] Highlight Gradients for the left part and a reversed one to create contrast.

CS Monogram Exploration

Back in the days when skewmorphism was popular the Gradient Mesh Tool was really helpful.

The most basic technique can be done by taking a circle, enabling the tool by hitting [U] in Illustrator, and then adding two points — one somewhere between top left corner and center, as seen in [J2]

The same step is repeated [J3] but this time between lower right corner and center,

Now that we have our mesh we are ready to edit the points by asigning different color tones to give some depth to the circle [J4]

Easiest way to do that is by taking the Direct Selection Tool [A] and selecting the points (all at once) you want to modify in terms of color. For the bottom go with something a bit more dark and for the top a bit more brighter.

One more great technique is by connecting two shapes with the help of Blend tool.

Start by creating a shape and applying a two toned gradient with an angle as seen in [K1],

Repeat the step but this time change the gradient by applying a color tone that is darker [K2],


Select [K1] and [K2] and go to Object / Blend / Make and you will probably end up with an example that has a rough transition, 

First you want to ensure the [K1] shape is brought to front, do to that select it and hit Cmd + Shift + ], 

Then go to Object / Blend / Blending Options, select specified distance instead of smooth color and enter a value of 50-100,

This should lead you to a result as seen in K3.

Last tip is how to add gradient to text while keeping editable, because usually in order to add it you need to convert the text to outlines,

The way you do it is by selecting a piece of type and going to the appearance pannel — Top Menu / Window / Appearance,

Click on the dropdown from Fill [L1] and select the black and white gradient [L2], this will apply it to the text,

Last step is to go to the Gradient window and adjusting it’s angle and color combo.

Thank you everyone, I hope this has been helpful. 

I will do my best to do a video tutorial where I will cover all of the above in a video format along with explanations,


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