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Shading with the Adobe Illustrator CS5 Mesh Object

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Simple lines can convey straightforward ideas, but subtlety often requires shading. Brian Wood, contributor to Adobe Illustrator CS5 Classroom in a Book, demonstrates using mesh objects to add gradients to curves. Brian shares his best tips for saving steps and preventing headaches as you work with mesh objects.

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Editing the Colors of a Gradient Mesh

Editing the Colors of a Gradient Mesh

There are two main ways to edit the colors of a gradient mesh: by editing the color of each mesh point, and/or by editing a mesh area. We'll look at how to make each change so you'll understand why two methods are available.

  1. Click the Mesh tool in the Tools panel.
  2. Position the pointer over the mesh object. Most of the time, a plus sign (+) appears next to the cursor. Now position the pointer over the center point of the mesh. Notice that the plus disappears. The plus indicates that you can add another mesh point (and another set of mesh lines). The cursor without a plus sign indicates that you can edit a point. Click the center point of the mesh to select it.
  3. Make sure that the Fill box is chosen in the Tools panel. Then, by using the Color panel, the Swatches panel, or any other method for making color, choose another color. The color assigned to that point is changed.
  4. With the Mesh tool, click one of the edge points and apply a color in the same way (see Figure 3).
  5. Figure 3 Editing the color of mesh points.

What if you wanted to edit a series of points at the same time, applying the same color? Easy:

  1. Select the Direct Selection tool in the Tools panel.
  2. Either hold down the Shift key and click a series of points on the edge of the shape, or drag a selection marquee across a series of points to select them.
  3. Change the color of the points by using the same method as you used in the preceding steps (see Figure 4).
  4. Figure 4 Editing the color of multiple mesh points.

Another method for editing color in a gradient mesh is to apply color to a mesh patch. See what I mean by following these steps:

  1. With the Direct Selection tool selected, click in an area within the shape (not on a point or line). This action selects all of the points around that area.
  2. Change the color fill of the area, using the same method as previously discussed. This is a way to apply color to a larger portion of the mesh, called a mesh patch (see Figure 5).
  3. Figure 5 Changing the fill color of a mesh patch.

3. Moving the Points of a Gradient Mesh | Next Section Previous Section