How to Create Radial Gradient Meshes in Illustrator
Radial Gradient Meshes are useful for creating photo-realistic eyes when drawing faces or for abstract multi-colored radial bursts that could not be achieved with an ordinary radial gradient. It is, essentially, where mesh points seem to be emanating from a point outwards. Let’s find out how to create them!
Start by drawing a circle with the Ellipse tool, then use the Swatches and Gradient panels to give it a nice normal radial gradient of alternating yellows and browns.
Using the Scallop tool under the Tools panel, click on the shape once. You’ll see this action only applies the deformation to the circle while nothing happens to the radial gradient fill.
Unlike normal gradient fills, mesh objects enable you to apply deformations to color as well. To turn the normal radial gradient into a mesh object, select the circle with the Selection tool (black arrow) and click on Object > Expand. In the dialog box that appears, select the Gradient Mesh radio button and hit OK.
Now when you click once with the Scallop tool, both the shape and the color will deform. This creates an almost fractal-like effect.
All that is needed now is to draw some yellow petals around it, a stem and some leaves, and the illustration is complete!
Creating Linear Gradient Meshes
In addition to radial gradient meshes, you can also create linear gradient meshes. Linear gradient meshes can be created in exactly the same way as radial ones. Simply apply a linear gradient fill to your shape rather than a radial. You can change this in the Gradients panel. Then go to Object > Expand and select Gradient Mesh. This will create a linear gradient mesh object that you can edit as you like. Give it a go for yourself!