Illustrator Tutorial: Gradient Mesh Flower

Gradient Mesh can be a wonderful tool to master but the learning curve can
bring a bit of frustration to the beginner, I myself found it confusing at first
but with a little practice and a simple plan I was able to get around a few
of the tools weaknesses and avoid snapping Wacom pens in anguish.


When I started illustrating with the mesh tool I would always attempt to draw
a large portion of the image and then force the mesh to conform to what I wanted
it to look like. With this technique, what would happen was when I tried to
manipulate the points I would find myself tasked with forcing the mesh to take
the shape of the image I wanted, which meant that I had to spend quite some
effort “sculpting” the mesh itself. When I say sculpting I’m not talking about
the sexy way it was done in that movie Ghost with Patrick Swayze, I’m talking
about the geeky mouse and Wacom push points around sculpting. Doing it this
way is fine if you are patient and skilled/super art geek, but the door is wide
open for issues to crop up later as the more complex a mesh is the harder it
is to work with.

Break It Down

The solution would be to find the inner shape in the image and illustrate them
instead. Then construct the image as a whole from its smaller parts. By working
with the smallest identifiable shape in the image, and applying the mesh to
it, I am fully in control of the meshes behavior. With simple shapes the mesh
will conform to the contour of the shape as long as you start the mesh near
the edge of the vector.

Working The Curves

The key to good control of the fountain pen tool is to have the disipline of
a Jedi master or just take your time and develop the arc bit by bit. First we
will creat one petal so we get the hang of useing the pen tool. You can download
an Adobe Illustrator file or Petal of the petal I did or just follow along these steps to create
your own.

Create A Leaf / Walk Through Fire

There is nothing like practice to hone your ability. This process can be like
walking through fire, painfull but nessesary to complete the journey. You can
download an Adobe Illustrator files and


Now that we are breaking the image down to simple shapes we find that it takes
longer to get to a point in the illustration where the image is identifiable.
So many little shapes to illustrate and not much time especially when the PS3
is waiting to be played. There is not always an easy way around this but in
this instance because this illustrations parts are similar I was able to get
around it.

Clone It

Fortunately because the petals on this plant are similar I was able to clone
several of them and reuse them. I copy and paste them down changing the shape
and adjusting the color with the adjust color balance control or going into
the mesh and changing the color at the points.

The Big Finish

Keeping it simple is the best strategy I know of so just follow that rule and
you can’t go wrong. Be sure to invest I good equipment as well. At the time
I did this illustration I had a VERY good color accurate monitor that was calibrated
regularly by people more knowledgeable than I (I call them Supermen you call
them techies). I don’t still have access to such equipment but I have come to
learn with digital art you have to be cognisant of how color shifts from monitor
to monitor and at the final print end.

Well I’m going to finish off the alchemist battle in Prince Of Persia. Good
luck with your projects and I hope this tutorial helps. Cheers :).

Download Source File
Download Source File

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About The Author: Stephen Freeman

Stephen is a senior Graphic Designer on the small but beautiful island of Barbados. He loves his fiance Nicole, his son Cyan, video games, computers, art, video editing, animation, cars and lots of other manly stuff. Find him masquerading as idrift on deviantart or on also visit

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+Add Comment28 Comments

  1. Gravtar for Robertas Pezas
    Robertas Pezas April 24th

    Very good tutorial, but i prefer first making a mesh rectangle and when editing its points.

  2. Gravtar for robby
    robby April 25th

    Thank you so much! I always found the mesh tool to be way to complicated for me, this tutorial really helps me alot!

  3. Gravtar for kookai
    kookai April 25th

    Thank you.
    : )

  4. Gravtar for Marvin
    Marvin April 27th

    what a powerful tool. great work, really have to try this 🙂

  5. Gravtar for Demonologic
    Demonologic April 30th

    It’s beautiful! Really!

    Also, you might want to check out this helpful tutorial:

    ot obtain a neat particle effect in Illustrator.

  6. Gravtar for Matt Thompson
    Matt Thompson May 1st

    Beautiful and lifelike art. I admit that I have found it difficult as well but your words of wisdom are very sound. Excellent tutorial.

  7. Gravtar for Grafiko
    Grafiko May 1st

    interesting tutorial, thanks for sharing

  8. Gravtar for photo retouching
    photo retouching May 2nd

    The mesh tool has always been a struggle for me when I am doing my photo retouching and image design, but this has helped clarify a few things. Thank you for the easy to follow tutorial.

  9. Gravtar for huwaw69
    huwaw69 May 2nd

    Great tutorial, but its quite hard to do…

  10. Gravtar for Yeah
    Yeah May 3rd

    or you take a picture of a flower! hah but still quite a talented advanced piece of work.

  11. Gravtar for Anthony Alexander
    Anthony Alexander May 3rd

    How you created something doesnt instantly constitute a tutorial. I continue to gripe with these tutorials that seem like using calculus to teach algebra. Good tutorial anyways. Thanks.

  12. Gravtar for moih60
    moih60 May 3rd

    great tutorial..i like it much
    thanks and added to my blog

  13. Gravtar for Khawla
    Khawla May 10th

    Thanks! I will try this tutorial soon.

  14. Gravtar for Hugo
    Hugo May 19th

    Outstanding! Very good!
    I finnaly am understanding the mesh tool.. thanks!
    sorry about my english 🙁

  15. Gravtar for VERO
    VERO May 19th


  16. Gravtar for retoucher77
    retoucher77 June 4th

    beautiful work, breathtaking… Thanks for posting!

  17. Gravtar for abe link
    abe link June 29th

    excellent tute. thanks

  18. Gravtar for Tu Tu
    Tu Tu July 16th

    thanks a lot

  19. Gravtar for Johnson Koh
    Johnson Koh July 31st

    I learnt a great technique here! Thanks so much Stephen!

  20. Gravtar for sruthi
    sruthi February 16th

    very good tutorial which makes us to make use of mesh

  21. Gravtar for Donald Quitangon
    Donald Quitangon June 2nd

    That was genius! I had no idea how I was gonna complete my Still Life project if it wasn’t for this. I didn’t realize I had to shape the gradient mesh of my leaves. Thanks!

  22. Gravtar for oong
    oong August 16th

    thanks to the tutorial, it will be very useful.
    permission to share on my blog.

  23. Gravtar for Narender
    Narender October 15th

    Thanks.! very good tutorial

  24. Gravtar for Rahul
    Rahul March 22nd

    Very nice… i like the easy way to teach this difficult tool… now i can draw any realistic pic also using mesh tool.. thanks in ton!!!

  25. Gravtar for ihop
    ihop November 8th

    u guys fucking suck ass

  26. Gravtar for tarjetas de visita
    tarjetas de visita February 18th

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  27. Gravtar for Oxana
    Oxana February 27th

    Very cool! Thank you for your lesson.

  28. Gravtar for Gaby
    Gaby May 18th

    Nice tutorial! I was just wondering, what’s the name of the flower called? Thanks again