Day 17: Blending Shapes & Colors

Illustrator Blend Tool does the trick of creating smooth transition between objects. You can blend open paths to create line effects and blend shapes to create realistic shadings. There are many creative things you can do with the Blend Tool and you will definitely be using it a lot in your illustrations.

Blend Effects

Here are some quick interesting stuff you can do with blending.

Realistic Shadings

With smooth blends you can create realistic shading which cannot be done with gradient.


Line Effects

You can create nice abstract blending line waves using Blend Tool. This is done by blending a dark to a light blue line.

Distributing Objects

With blend tools you can quickly align objects with specified steps.

Understanding How Blend Works

This is a quick diagram of how a blend looks. A blend needs at least 2 objects to blend. The start object will blend to the end object with the amount of steps you specified for the blend. In this case, I set it to 3 steps. A spine will also be automatically created. This spine determines the path the in between objects take.

Blending Objects

Method 1: Using Blend Function

To quickly make a quick smooth blend. Select the 2 objects you want to blend and go Object>Blend>Make. A smooth blend with be created.

Method 2: Using the Blend Tool

Another method I always use, is using the Blend Tool to do the job. I can have more control on the anchor points to blend to.

First select the start object.

Select the Blend Tool.

First click on the anchor point your want the blend to start.

Next, hold Alt/Option as you click the second anchor point you want it to blend to.

A Blend Options window pops up. Choose Specified Steps and enter 3 for the value.

The final blend will have the star morph to the final star in 3 steps.

Blend Options For Blending Objects

To quickly change a smooth blending object to specified steps, Alt/Option click on the blending objects with the Blend Tool. The Blend Options pops up. Set the Spacing to Specified Steps.

Replacing Spine

At times, you may want to edit the path of the spine to a curve path instead of the default straight path. To do this, you can edit the path directly with the Pen Tool. Another cleaner way to do this is to draw the path of the spine. Select the new path and the blend object. Go to Blend>Replace Spine to replace the spine.

Expanding Blends

If you need to break the blend into individual objects. You can go Object>Expand to expand the objects. You can then edit the in between objects.



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  1. I think I’ve done something wrong with my settings– when I used “blend–>make” the object goes from dark to white instead of what you’re example shows. The star example gave me three deformed stars in between my start and end points.

  2. Hi LadyUranus, make sure the 2 objects are same shape. Then blend using Blend>Make. Alt/Option click on the blend to change settings to see how you can edit the blend options.

  3. Keep the fill for both circles with the desired color. Change the stroke to None, box with red line through it, for both circles. Then try using the blend> make!

  4. Derek is right. You have to remove strokes or its colours would eb the ones blending!!!!

    Awesome tutorial

  5. What I am not able to do though is to distribute objects keeping the size. The shapes in the middle are always smaller and bigger than the starting and end ones.

  6. Same here…how do you keep the size of the object consistent? Also having a little trouble with the line effects…how is it done?

  7. ok, so, under Method 2: Using the blend tool, I follow directions, blend options window pops-up, I click 3 and OK, and nothing happens. Is it supposed to have 5 stars like in illustration, or is it simply supposed to blend color of the first star? Mine doesn’t seem to do anything? I can’t seem to find where the spine is- mine only has one object. Thanks for the help.

  • RSCdev rscdev.net

    This tuto is one of the best (until now) :)
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Nike TN Requin www.paschertimberland.org

    出,我按3和确定,并没有任何反应。它应该是有像插图5星,或者是简单的,它应ghjfjfj
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Crissy www.yahoo.com/

    Real brain power on dsplaiy. Thanks for that answer!
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Dan Huffman

    ok, so, under Method 2: Using the blend tool, I follow directions, blend options window pops-up, I click 3 and OK, and nothing happens. Is it supposed to have 5 stars like in illustration, or is it simply supposed to blend color of the first star? Mine doesn't seem to do anything? I can't seem to find where the spine is- mine only has one object. Thanks for the help.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Raymond Avilez

    Same here...how do you keep the size of the object consistent? Also having a little trouble with the line effects...how is it done?
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • xavier izaguirre

    What I am not able to do though is to distribute objects keeping the size. The shapes in the middle are always smaller and bigger than the starting and end ones.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • xavier izaguirre

    Derek is right. You have to remove strokes or its colours would eb the ones blending!!!! Awesome tutorial
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • kiticha phoonsonbat

    Love and very funny this lesson.Thanks for good tips.You are cool.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • erick

    Thanks for this. Very much appreciated.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • elearning elearningking.blogspot.com/

    Nice tutorial. Thank you so much.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Derek Maloy

    Keep the fill for both circles with the desired color. Change the stroke to None, box with red line through it, for both circles. Then try using the blend> make!
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • Leroy Simpson

    Cool tutorial, i make jamaica flag blend into a spliff
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • iStockdiary www.istockdiary.com

    Hi LadyUranus, make sure the 2 objects are same shape. Then blend using Blend>Make. Alt/Option click on the blend to change settings to see how you can edit the blend options.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • LadyUranus

    I think I've done something wrong with my settings-- when I used "blend-->make" the object goes from dark to white instead of what you're example shows. The star example gave me three deformed stars in between my start and end points.
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
  • ArtConch artconch.blogspot.com/

    Loved this lesson, so many neat things illustator can do, thanks again for showing me how to blend
    UpVote Reply 0 Upvotes
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