Illustrator swatches gradient background effect
2009 at 12.34 pm posted by Veerle Pieters
The Adobe’s Creative Suite 4 packages have this interesting gradient style effect. It looks like a grid of swatches going from one color to another in subtle gradient effect. If you have ever wondered how you create this effect, then I invite you to take the jump and read on.
Create new document
Create a new document (File > New or hit Cmd/Ctrl + N) of 640 px by 140 px using pixels as Units and RGB as color mode (which can be found under the Advanced options).
Create first swatch
Select the Rectangle tool and click once on the canvas. In the Rectangle dialogue box enter a width and height of 20 px. Click OK. Give the square a color. I've used a dark purple.
Move first swatch into place
Make sure Smart Guides are enabled: View > Smart Guides or Cmd/Ctrl + U. Select the square (which will we will refer to as 'swatch' from now on) and move it into the top left corner of your document.
Go to Object > Transform > Transform Each or hit Cmd/Ctrl + Option/Alt + Shift + D. We need to copy the swatch and move it 620 px towards the right, so it sits in the top right corner of our document. Enter the value of 620 px in the Horizontal option under Move. Click the Copy button to copy the original swatch.
Create gradient effect using the blend tool
Give the swatch a different color (no stroke). I've used a very bright red. Select the Blend tool from the toolbox. Click the bottom right point of the first swatch. Hold down the Option/Alt key and click in the bottom right point of the other swatch.
In the Blend Options box choose Specified Steps and enter 30 steps. Click OK.
To know this specific value is a matter of simple calculation. Our document is 640 pixels wide and we're using a square of 20 pixels. 640 divided into 20 gives us 32, minus the 2 squares that area already in place (first one and last one), gives us exactly 30. You should get a similar result like the image below.
Duplicate the blend
Select the blend by grabbing the top border of the first swatch using the Selection tool (black arrow). Click to start dragging the blend vertically down. Hold down the Option/Alt key (to duplicate the blend while dragging) as well the Shift key (making sure it's 100% vertical) while dragging. Release the mouse once you've reached the bottom border of the original blend as shown in the image above.
If all went well you should end up with 2 nicely adjoined rows of blends as shown in the image below.
Now hit Cmd/Ctrl + D 5 times in a row to duplicate this action 5 times. You should end up with a similar result as shown in the image below.
Adjust color swatches to your liking
Select the Direct Selection tool (white arrow) and select the first or last swatches of each row one by one and change the color slightly to create a subtle vertical gradient effect. In my example at the beginning of my article, I've gone from very dark purple towards brown for the first swatch and from red towards yellow-orange for the last swatch.
Try to only make very subtle change to each swatch, this way you'll end up with a nicely gradual change of colors instead of abrupt changes of colors.
Hope you've enjoyed this one ;)
Want to learn 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.