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How to Create a Glossy Effect in Illustrator

By Melissa Scroggins, Shutterstock Contributor

In this tutorial, we’ll examine how to create a simple glossy effect on a rounded rectangle shape (which can be applied to different shapes) using Adobe Illustrator.

Step 1: Base Shape

Select the Rounded Rectangle Tool available in the Tools Panel. To select this shape, hold the mouse button while clicking the Rectangle Tool (M). Drag out a rounded rectangle shape (R=152 G=220 B=244) and label this “Base.”

With the “Base” layer selected, choose a darker color (R=0 G=113 B=188) and add a 2px stroke. This darker outline creates contrast.

Step 2: Cookie Cutter

Duplicate the “Base” layer and remove the stroke. Label this layer “Inner Glow.” Change the fill color to a lighter shade (R=222 G=246 B=252).

Cut this rectangle to about 1/6 the height by selecting the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a new rectangle to act as a “cookie cutter.”

*Note: For some shapes, you can use a circle as the “cookie cutter” or simply use the eraser.

Make sure the new rectangle layer is above the other layers. With the new rectangle and the “Inner Glow” layers selected, choose the Pathfinder > Shape Modes: Subtract from shape area. 

In the Pathfinder Panel, click the Expand button. Label this layer “Inner Glow” again.

Next, select the path in the “Base” layer and choose Object > Expand (with Fill and Stroke check marked) and then Object > Ungroup. There will now be two paths. Place the compound path (the “Stroke”) behind the fill path by choosing Object > Arrange > Send to Back. Duplicate the “Base” layer and remove the stroke. Then label it “Highlight” and turn off the visibility. We’ll come back to this layer later.

Select the fill paths from the “Inner Glow” and “Base” layers, choose Object > Blend > Blend Options and under Spacing: Specified Steps = 21. Then choose Object > Blend > Make.

*Note: For some shapes, you can create a gradient (with the lighter/darker color at the bottom and the base color toward the top) instead of using a Blend.

Finally, place the “Stroke” path in front of the “Blend” group.

Step 3: Glossy Highlight

Select the “Highlight” layer created earlier and move this layer under the top “Stroke” layer. Change the fill color of the “Highlight” to R=232 G=246 B=249. As before, create a rectangle to be used as the “cookie cutter” and place this above the “Highlight” layer.

As aforementioned, for some shapes, you can use a circle as the “cookie cutter” or use the eraser.

Select the new rectangle and the “Highlight” layers and choose the Pathfinder > Shape Modes: Subtract, and then Expand.

Deselect all objects and select the gradient box at the bottom of the Tools Panel. Define the gradient sliders to white and the color R=222 G=246 B=252. Select the “Highlight” layer andGradient Tool (G) and change the settings in the Gradient panel to Linear and Angle= -90. Drag the Gradient Tool (G) from the top down.

*Note: For some shapes, changing the gradient from linear to radial works best.

That’s it! This same process can be applied to almost any shape. For the star and triangle, a circle “cookie cutter” and a gradient (in place of the blend) create the same effect. The polygon uses the eraser for the “cookie cutter.” Experiment with the settings to make your shapes shine!

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