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Distorting Gradients in Adobe Illustrator CSPart 1: Working with envelope distortions
The basic premise is that we want to take an object such as this
and be able to warp or transform it so that the linear gradient we've used is able to follow the new contours of our object, whatever shape it might take.
I've mentioned that there are two ways to accomplish this without rasterizing or resorting to an expansion of the fill, which destroys the true gradient. Each with its own advantages and disadvantages, so we'll take a look at both methods in this series of tutorials, beginning in our first installment with the use of envelope distortions. Next time around, we'll look at the basics of the second method--the gradient mesh.
Step 1: create the gradient object
To begin, you're going to want to create an object containing a linear gradient. This can be any sort of object with any linear gradient, but its basic shape and orientation will affect the final appearance of the distorted gradient. For my example, I'll work with two different objects to show you how the results can differ. One is a square with a vertical gradient, the other a rectangle with a horizontal gradient.
You can set the angle of your gradient in the Gradient palette.
Step 2: set your envelope distortion options
Now, this whole process is based on the use of envelope distortions. So, in order for this whole process to work, we need to set our envelope distortion options to function properly for our purpose. To do this, go to Object > Envelope Distort > Envelope Options. When you do, a dialog will pop up. In the dialog, you'll see options listed at the bottom. Make sure that you've checked the options for "Distort Appearance" and "DIstort Linear Gradients."
Step 3: distort the object
And, having done that, you're now ready to distort your object. There are three envelope options to choose from: warp, mesh and make with top object. Which one you choose will depend on the type of effect you're trying to accomplish.
Method 1: warp
This is the same thing as applying any of Illustrator's built-in warp effects. The advantage of doing it through an envelope distortion, though, is that you'll be able to warp your gradient in addition to the object's shape. A standard warp effect (Effect > Warp > Arc) would give you the result you see below, warping the shape but leaving the gradient as-is.
But below you see the effect of our two objects using a horizontal Arc warp through the envelope distortion (Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp).
Big difference. But this method is also pretty limited, in that you can only choose between the 15 preset warp effects included with Illustrator.
Related Keywords:adobe illustrator, gradients, distort, envelope distortion, bend gradients
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