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Nov 10

Create realistic illustrations using Illustrator’s Gradient Mesh

2004 at 01.29 am posted by Veerle Pieters

Do you remember my post about those stunning photorealistic drawings? They use complex gradient meshes to achieve such result. If you have some Illustrator experience and you wonder how such gradient mesh works or you wonder how to start, I’m sure this tutorial might help.

Illustration with Gradient Mesh - Meet the Brussels chicoryFirst of all you need a picture to start from to imitate. Just look for a picture that might suit you. In my example I've used a typical Belgian vegetable, Brussels chicory. Place (File > Place) the picture in a separate layer and lock the layer. Create a new one on top of it to start the illustration. Select the Pen Tool from the toolbox and start drawing the paths...

You'll find everything in this PDF (ZIP file - 789 KB).

UPDATE : Thanks to Jay I've discovered that this veggie is actually called endive in America. My dictionary gave me another translation (chicory could be British English). Here are some websites to get to know more about this vegetable, including some recipes on how to prepare this delicious treat:

Enjoy! ;-)

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.


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permalink this comment ianus Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 03.16 am

Very nice, with a good example… “Brussels lof” to you. Is the background of the Chicory also done in Illustrator or are those flowers part of a bitmap?


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permalink this comment Veerle Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 04.09 am

Hi ianus, the background (flowers) is part of a bitmap.


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permalink this comment xjawax Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 06.10 am

Very cool!  You rule!


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permalink this comment Carlos Porto Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 09.31 am

Very interesting. Illustrator borrowed a concept from 3D applications and made an extremely useful tool for 2d.  Great work and a good tutorial.


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permalink this comment Peter Flaschner Wed Nov 10, 2004 at 11.58 am

Veerle, this is so generous of you, thank you. As always, an excellent tutorial on a particularly vexing subject!

Here is a similar image I did a while back.

My approach was a bit different, and made use of a little used Illustrator tool (hint, the shortcut is shift-r) to speed up the process considerably.

I quickly wrote up the steps I used, and posted them at my site. I hope someone finds it useful.

Thanks again for the inspiration!


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permalink this comment Geert Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 04.39 am

Veerle, nice tutuorial and thanks for giving me the inspiration on how to spend my 11th November :-)


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permalink this comment Ingrid Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 05.32 am

Thanks Veerle for another lovely tutorial.


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permalink this comment Jay Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 12.59 pm

That veggie looks just like what we call endive in the US.


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permalink this comment Veerle Thu Nov 11, 2004 at 01.19 pm

@Jay, I didn’t know that ;-) I didn’t know the English word for this vegetable and looked it up in my dictionary. But now that I did a search on Google I see that you are right, thanks for mentioning this :-) I’ve updated my post and added some links too!


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permalink this comment Marilyn Fri Nov 12, 2004 at 12.58 pm

Thanks, Veerle, for another great tutorial. By the way, endive is the French word too, and I expect that English borrowed it from the French. It’s pronounced on-deeve in French, but n-dive in English.


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permalink this comment Jay Jones Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 09.04 am

Haha… Veerle, in your update to this post, you say, “Including some recipes on how to prepare this delicious threat.”

I don’t know if that was intended or not, but it brought a nice grin!  Surely, an unknown food like this could be either a ‘treat’, or a ‘threat’. :)

By the way… excellent tutorial!


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permalink this comment Veerle Tue Nov 16, 2004 at 12.44 pm

@Jay… ouch!! What a mistake LOL :-S It should be treat of course I can assure you :-P I’ll fix it immediately…. damn those spell checkers… both words exist so I didn’t notice my rather funny mistake :-D


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permalink this comment Superteddy Fri May 6, 2005 at 02.35 pm

Thanks Veerle.. love your tutorials..


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permalink this comment Jesse Sat Jun 24, 2006 at 02.06 pm

Dude, i like your site design. Thanks for the tutorial - i was linked from sitepoint, but I have no idea what that vegetable is. How come you didn’t do it with something that everyone has heard of? :P



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