How to Efficiently Work in Adobe Illustrator (Part 7)

Natalie Ulrich shares some very interesting tricks with us. Today you will find out how to simplify your work with the Gradient Mesh; how to control the Rectangular Grid Tool, the Arc Tool and the Polar Grid with the shortcuts. You will also learn how to create the gradient brushes and chains. Learn at the jump!


View of the Reference Image while Creating the Gradient Mesh

Often illustrators use the reference images to create the vector artworks. The Gradient Meshes can be created with the reference images. It is easy to switch between the Outline and the Preview modes while you work, because the colored Gradient Mesh nodes cover the reference images. If you place the reference image into a separate layer, which you make a template, you will be able to see it in the Outline mode. Otherwise when you go into this mode you will be able to see only the contours of the image.

The Shortcuts for the Rectangular Grid

The rectangular Grid tool creates the grid with identical cells on default. If you want to change the location of the cells then press the X or C keys while creating the grid to move the vertical lines to the left or to the right; press the V or the F keys accordingly to move the horizontal lines up or down. On the picture to the right the V key was pressed while the grid was created.

The Gradient Brushes

To create the gradient that goes along the path you can use the Art Brush. Create a rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M). Copy and paste it ahead (Cmd / Ctrl + C, Cmd / Ctrl + F). Reduce the height of the upper rectangle. Fill the rectangles with different colors (refer to the picture to the right)

Select two rectangles and press the Cmd / Ctrl + Opt / Alt + B shortcuts to create a blend. Double click on the Blend Tool in the toolbar open the dialog box the Blend Options. Choose the Specified steps and set a number of steps so the flow of the color will be smooth, in our case it is 20 steps.

Select the received blend-object and in the Brushes panel press the New Brush button. Then select the New Art Brush and press the OK button in the current and in the next window

Now we can apply the received brush into any path.

For some micro stock sites with strict conditions to the uploaded vector files, as the, the received brush should be transferred into the regular objects (Object > Expand Appearance). Your file can also not be excepted if the blend object consists of more than 10 steps in the beginning stage.

The Creation of the Chain

You can easily create crossing objects with the Live Paint Bucket tool (K). Create a circle without the fill and with the stroke. Without removing the selection, go to the Object > Expand