Day 18: Photorealism with Gradient Mesh

Gradient Mesh allows you to create shapes with gradients. And many artist has been able to create photo realistic drawings of people, products and vehicles just by using Gradient Mesh. Here is an example of photorealistic artwork by Halim Ghobane. If you don’t believe your eyes, the gradient mesh line will show the answer.

gradient mesh

Halim Ghodbane

Creating a Gradient Mesh Object

Here is a quick overview of a gradient mesh object. You can apply colors to Mesh Points and edit them using Direction Selection Tool to control the shapes of the mesh object. The Mesh Line shows the contours of the object.

mesh object

Creating a Gradient Mesh Object

Method 1: Using Gradient Mesh Tool

To turn an object into a gradient mesh, select the Gradient Mesh Tool and click once on the shape to create a mesh point. Click above the Mesh Line to crate another point.

Select the first mesh point and select a lighter blue for the base of the water droplet. Next add a third point on top and set it to white. Finally, select the middle point and give it a dark blue.

Select all the 3 mesh points with the Direction Selection Tool and drag it down to mimic the contours of a water droplet. And realistic water droplet is done!

Method 2: Using Gradient Mesh Tool

To create a grid of gradient mesh object quickly, you can use the function Object>Create Gradient Mesh. Enter the number of rows or columns you want to create. You can also create a highlight in the middle by setting Appearance to Center.


Gradient mesh can be hard to grasp for beginners as the mesh line starts to mess out when you have a irregular shaped object. To learn more, check out my tutorial on using Gradient Mesh to create curtain effects.

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About The Author: Tony Soh

Hi. I'm the founder of Vector Diary. Illustrator is my passion and I have written numerous tutorials on illustrator helping people learn illustrator. My most popular tutorial on learn illustrator has been a hit. It makes learning illustrator so easy and has benefited more than 20,000 people worldwide. Also, I've revealed some of my secret techniques in the premium tutorials. So don't forget to check it out!

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+Add Comment26 Comments

  1. Gravtar for Candy
    Candy July 31st

    This is excellent. Something bothers me about gradient mesh though, is that later on if I wanna edit the object it’s not editable. Even when I try and expand it.

  2. Gravtar for iStockdiary
    iStockdiary July 31st

    Hi Candy, using Direct Selection Tool you still can select and edit the anchor points anytime.

  3. Gravtar for Brian
    Brian August 30th

    Actually the object is now always a gradient mesh right?

  4. Gravtar for Leroy Simpson
    Leroy Simpson August 31st

    What tha blood claat man, dis a good tool!!

  5. Gravtar for kors k
    kors k September 20th

    aw shit nigga this tutorial is tight

    i hate this tool though

  6. Gravtar for paul
    paul September 22nd

    this is amazing. can you create a gradient mesh with a compound paths?? for some reason i can’t get it

  7. Gravtar for dinesh
    dinesh October 6th

    good one

  8. Gravtar for den
    den November 6th best Vector Gradient Mesh

  9. Gravtar for Tom
    Tom December 17th

    Halim Ghodbane*


  10. Gravtar for dimadiz
    dimadiz December 19th cool vector ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Gravtar for Az
    Az January 31st

    Would you please explain me how you have created this shape???

  12. Gravtar for Az
    Az January 31st

    I need your helpppppppppp! How can I create this shape??? Also I can not create this shadow with mesh. PLZ help..

  13. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary January 31st

    Hi Az, first draw a circle. With the Pen Tool selected, hold Alt as you click the top anchor point to convert it a a point shape. Click and drag the point again to move it higher to form the tear shape. Hope it helps. =)

  14. Gravtar for Az
    Az February 2nd

    Thanks for your help, but it seems that I have some problems in using pen tool. Do you know any video tutorial for this purpose?

  15. Gravtar for David
    David February 7th

    Yes, it can be hard to ‘grasp’ for beginners! (pun intended? :P)

    I started to mess with it even more. If you add more mesh lines and select certain multiple points, you can really mess with the object. I got the teardrop looking like a mallet…or hammer type object!

  16. Gravtar for Dave Oliver
    Dave Oliver March 1st

    Incredible tutorials!

    But just a question. When a gradient mesh is applied to an object, the stroke automatically turns off. Is there a way to keep an object’s stroke when a gradient mesh is applied?

  17. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary March 1st

    Hi Dave Oliver, There is no way to turn it on. An alternative solution is to make a duplicate of the shape before you apply gradient mesh. Then send it behind the gradient mesh. You can then add a stroke to that shape. This will create a stroke effect to the gradient mesh.

  18. Gravtar for Dave Oliver
    Dave Oliver March 2nd

    Ah, true true. Thank you for the quick response, much appreciated!

  19. Gravtar for katy stapleton
    katy stapleton March 16th

    You make this look so easy …when i connect two points it goes crazy like a child and a crayon and i don’t know how to smooth it.

  20. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary March 16th

    Maybe your water droplet paths are messy, that’s why the mesh turns messy. Try this instead: first draw a circle. With the Pen Tool selected, hold Alt as you click the top anchor point to convert it a a point shape. Click and drag the point again to move it higher to form the tear shape.

  21. Gravtar for Carlos Alberto Michelena
    Carlos Alberto Michelena March 20th

    I like a lot this tutorial.
    Thank you.

  22. Gravtar for Kelly Brosky
    Kelly Brosky March 31st

    Thank you so much. I’ve been using Illustrator for a while now and have mastered just about everything but the gradient mesh. This simple tut is so much easier to understand than any other I’ve found and now I have a good starting point to practice using the gradient mesh tool!

  23. Gravtar for juan salvatierra
    juan salvatierra April 29th

    Bravo!!! thank you for the great tutorial. =)

  24. Gravtar for Jeffery Wright
    Jeffery Wright June 9th

    its confounding oversights in illustrator that keep me going back to corel.

    like this: “There is no way to turn it on. An alternative solution is to make a duplicate of the shape before you apply gradient mesh.”

    what kind of silliness is this? in corel, one just has to simply ‘convert to curves’!

    why is this missing in illustrator?

    the same reason it was impossible to place an objects outline behind its fill until only recently… which you could do in corel since at least version 2!

  25. Gravtar for King Dost
    King Dost June 3rd

    Hello admin โ€“ That is surely the wonderful in search of weblog I’ve seen. It had been totally easy to understand and it had been easy to look with the knowledge which i wanted. Wonderful web design and helpful content materials!

  26. Gravtar for Wedding Photography in Delhi
    Wedding Photography in Delhi August 13th

    Wedding photography is the photography of activities relating to weddings.Wedding is a ritualistic way of expressing your love.