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Premium Tutorial: Gradient Mesh Horse

gradient mesh horse

For a long time I used to see Illustrator as a tool for “building” our design, without any space for more artsy things. You know, every line we draw becomes an object, and every object is important, even if the line isn’t meant to be. And though I still agree Illustrator’s not good for sketching, it gives us an amazing drawing tool – the gradient mesh tool. This tutorial isn’t just about drawing a horse, it’s about using Illustrator to draw in a unique style that can’t be reached with any other tool, to draw quickly and effectively. I will be showing you how to draw a horse in the tutorial.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Requirements: Adobe Illustrator

What will you get?

    • Instant download of PDF e-book (23 pages, 62 steps)
    • Comes with Ai file for easy reference
    • Detailed step by step tutorial to draw a nice realistic gradient mesh horse

Tutorial Preview:

Untitled Document

Draw the Horse

1. It's almost impossible to draw something realistic without a good photo reference. Finding a proper one may be a key to success. Here, we are going to use a picture from venomxbaby's free stock photo, slightly adjusted for easier work (stronger contrast will make the colors easier to pick).

gradient mesh horse

2. First, we create a new Illustrator file and place the reference there. Then, we will duplicate the layer with it. We will need two copies of the reference: the first one (path reference) will be locked all the time and used as template, while the other (color reference) may be moved whenever we needed to take a look at a particular part of the horse's body.

gradient mesh horse

3. Now we transform the lower layer into a template that will make it visible in Outlines Mode (ctrl/cmd+Y). Both of them should be locked, though the "color reference" will be unlocked when needed.

gradient mesh horse

Building the Outlines

4. Drawing the horse all at once would be a crazy idea, which is why we need to divide the silhouette into smaller parts that are easier to control. We need to look for some basic shapes in this, just as if we wanted to pack it (don't draw the lines, they're here just for picturing what I'm talking about).

gradient mesh horse

5. Now we start to actually "pack" all the parts in rectangles, working in Outlines Mode (ctrl/cmd+Y). This mode is helpful for creating shapes without caring about things, like fill and stroke. Tip: make a new layer for every part and use meaningful names for them - you're going to need it!

gradient mesh horse



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About The Author: Monika Zagrobeina

I'm an artist with a long experience in doing useless, but creative things. I'm familiar with traditional and digital media, and I feel at home in Photoshop. I love fantasy, my speciality are dragons - I could draw them all the time, but since my time is limited, I waste it on playing games like Portal. So, I'm still a hobbyist - but a hobbyist with a strong faith she'll be able to draw for a living one day.

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+Add Comment3 Comments

  1. Gravtar for John Rappard
    John Rappard November 8th

    Hello, I have downloaded the Zipfile but apparently the file is damaged, after four trials still I couldnt open the file then I have quit trying.

  2. Gravtar for Kathyrn Hollins
    Kathyrn Hollins November 9th

    The file needs to be re-uploaded, I keep getting message that decompression failed when trying to download it. Could you please try reloading it.
    Thanks.

  3. Gravtar for Design Tutorial
    Design Tutorial December 12th

    really nice, thanks for share it.

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