Fill any shape with smooth multiple-color blends called gradients. A simple gradient is usually made of two colors fading into each other, but there can be more advanced gradients consisting of many colors, including linear and radial gradients. Find out how to love working with gradients, from Artboard’s preloaded styles to creating your very own.
Program : Artboard 1.1+ for Mac OSX
Topics Covered: Style Inspector – Gradient Fill
Estimated Completion Time: 15-20 minutes
Create a new drawing at your preferred size in Artboard. From the Styles & Clip Art palette, click onto the Library icon and choose “Backgrounds & Fancy Fills > Gradients” category from the drop-down list. There are 36 pre-loaded gradient styles in the Mapdiva Library.
Click onto the first gradient “Evening Sky”. Use the Regular Polygon [g] tool to draw a star. It is drawn using the “Evening Sky” gradient fill.
Next, find the “Full Spectrum Rainbow Gradient” style in the Styles & Clip Art palette (HINT: you can start typing the style name in the search bar and it will search the currently active category for a match). Note how when you choose a different style, the Tools palette Preview changes with it – that’s how to tell which style is currently active. Draw another star. Notice that this new gradient is made up of several colors, where the first star’s gradient was a blend of two colors. Let’s look at these in the Style Inspector.
With the second (rainbow) star still selected, open the Style Inspector
– Expert pane (EDIT: As of Artboard 1.3 the “Simple” and “Expert” buttons have been removed from the Style Inspector (it edits all expert styles by default).). Here we can look at the nuts and bolts of the style. Click the “Clone” button to work with a copy of the style, then click onto “Gradient Fill” in the Style Components list. We can see that the gradient is comprised of six different colors along a linear gradient.
The big circle in the gradient-well has an handle you can turn to rotate the angle of the gradient. Go ahead and give it a try. If you hold the SHIFT-key down while you rotate the knob it will move in 15-degree increments. Notice how as you rotate the knob the angle changes, both in the style and in the star object that has the style applied. Remember, you’re working with a clone (copy) of the style so you aren’t changing the original.
Let’s draw another shape. Use the Rectangle [r] tool to draw a square (HINT: hold the SHIFT-key while drawing to maintain the aspect ratio and draw a perfect square). The same style is still active and is used with your square. In the Style Inspector
– Expert pane, click “Clone” again to work with another copy, and click back onto the Gradient Fill style component to edit its properties. You see the six color-stops along the gradient bar. To remove a color, click on the color-stop and drag it off the gradient bar. Alternatively, click the color-stop then click the little “-” at the left end of the gradient bar. Do this for all the middle colors. You should end up with a gradient with light blue on the left and dark blue on the right.
Let’s explore radial gradients. Click onto the “Radial” button. The perspective of the gradient changes. However, in this example we want the middle to be lighter than the edges. Drag the color-stops in the gradient bar to reverse their positions. We also want the center of the gradient to be positioned a bit high to the right. Grab the inner circle (the one with the light blue knob) in the gradient-well and move it slightly up and to the right. Cool! You’ve just created a great radial gradient that looks like light is coming in from above. Applied to a circle it would look like a ball with a bit of depth.
Now that you’re familiar with applying gradients from the Mapdiva library, and with creating your own, let’s experiment! Click “New” in the Style Inspector to create a new style from scratch. Choose a drawing tool and draw a shape. I’ve drawn a very quick heart using the Freehand Line [f] tool. In the Style Inspector, click the “+” button and add a gradient fill style component. Click a color-stop along the gradient bar to open the Colors palette and change colors. Click the little “+” on the left side of the gradient bar to add color-stops. Artboard stands apart with its expert stacked styles – here I’ve added a thick Rough Stroke on top of my gradient for added visual weight and a comic effect.
Have fun creating your own gradient styles. What would it look like if you moved the gradient-stops closer together? How would a gradient help you add depth to your graphics? Here we’ve added a background in the same gradient style as the foreground shapes… bask in the gradient love!