Posted in Graphic Guides

Spice it Up with a Gradient Mesh

Ever look at a circle and wonder how you could turn this 2D figure into a 3D masterpiece?

The answer to your prayers is the Mesh Tool!  This neat little tool will set up a grid with anchor points that you can color to your heart’s content!

Now, let’s step this up and combine it with the lighting effects we learned on Tuesday.


The pepper above was created using the Mesh Tool.  Here’s how it was done:

  1. For this pepper, I had a base image with a white background so it was easier to pick through.  Now place the base image on its own layer and double-click on its layer from the Layer panel.  Now check the button for Template.  This will probably change the color of the pepper, but don’t worry it’ll work perfectly.  Now lock your picture.
  2. Outline the sections of the bell pepper.  For this pepper I used six sections.  Each section should have its own layer so that it’s easier to pick through it.
  3. Make sure that there are NO STROKES/OUTLINES on your sections, or else this will mess up the Mesh Tool.
  4. Copy your shapes off to the side as emergency backups.
  5. Now use the Eyedropper Tool to pick out the main colors of the pepper (I chose one color from each section) and move them over to your Swatches.
  6. Choose the section you want to work with first and Hide all of the other sections, also make sure to Lock them so you won’t move them out-of-place.
  7. Now deselect everything and select the Mesh Tool.  Once it’s selected, click in the middle of your section, this will be the base for your mesh on this section.  Now click Command + Y to make it where you can see the image of the pepper and the outline of your section  and its new mesh.  From here, place new mesh anchor points along key highlights and lowlights of the pepper picture.
  8. For the shadows, I double clicked on the base color of the section and made it where the color was in the same family but only darker.  Move this new color over to your swatches.  For the highlight color I simply used the Eyedropper Tool on the highlighted sections of the picture of the pepper and moved that color over to my swatches.  Keep in mind: the highlighted color can be used for almost all of your highlights.  The lowlights colors should be mostly other colors of your pepper or a slightly darker shade of the two biggest sections of the pepper to keep it consistent.  Now go along your mesh points and highlight and shade accordingly.
  9. Now do this with the rest of your sections, make sure that the only section showing is the section you are working on and the only layer unlocked is the layer you’re working on.  occasionally you can show the other layers to ensure that your gradient is flowing and your pepper is coming along nicely.

Tada!  Now you have your own pepper ready for eating!  There’s sure to be some great bytes in it!

If you want to do the shadow, just use the Pen Tool to roughly draw an oval going away from your pepper at an angle.  Then use the Mesh Tool to divide it up and color it however you like.  Or you can use the basic Gradient Tool if you’re in a rush or just plain tired of the Mesh Tool!


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