Gradient is a combination of 2 or more color fills in Linear or Radial direction. There are a few ways to apply Gradient fill - via Tool Palette, Gradient Palette or (keyboard) shortcut >.

Apply Gradient via Tool Palette

Select your artwork object, click the Gradient Fill icon as shown above.

Apply Gradient via Gradient Palette

Object is selected, go to Gradient Palette, click the Gradient icon (as shown above).
Note: If the Gradient Palette is not there, open at top menu > Window > Gradient. Or keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+F9 (Win), Cmd+F9 (Mac).

Change Gradient Color

Now your artwork / object Filled with Gradient, with default black & white greyscale (1 color). We need to change this default in order to color it.

Select your object (you want to change)..
1. go to Gradient Palette, see the Gradient Slider, click the Black Slider
2. go to Color Palette, click Option (top right corner) as shown above

3. Change from (default) Greyscale to RGB (or CMYK if you need so)

4. Adjust the color, any color you like (suddenly I remember Pink Floyd song.. lol). Now your object's gradient color changed.

5. Then you need to do the same steps for the second Slider - the white gradient color.

Now you know how to change the Gradient Color of your object. Next we try to adjust the Gradient Style.

Change Gradient Style

You need to experiment yourself with these basic methods on how to modify and control your Gradient Fills on your artworks.

Linear Gradient

The steps we learnt above is Linear type of gradient, and we can adjust the Slider Location to modify the effects.

Drag the Sliders and see your object gradient's effect changed.

Now change the angle direction as shown above.. try it.

Radial Gradient

Simply change the Type to Radial as shown in the image below

See your object fill color now is Radial Gradient.

There are some more extra things we can add to this Gradient Fill, but what we have learn here are just the basic of Gradient in Illustrator. We can add more colors to the gradient's object by adding more than 2 Sliders, such as rainbow colors. We can also make the gradient in different styles than this 2 basic types, but that would be more complicated for newbie.. we can try it later hopefully ☺

This tutorial is based on Adobe Illustrator CS5. Legacy version (CS4 and below), newer version (CS6 and CC) might be differ than images shown and methods in this post. I'm trying to make it as compatible as possible for any version. Therefore some new & extra features or technics that not available in previous versions might not be shown here to avoid some users confusing.
The difference in vector graphic or vector images compared to pixel type of images or raster images (jpeg, png, bmp, gif, psd, etc.) are the rendering method used by the graphic applications itself such as Adobe Illustrator. Normally any vector graphic editor used Fill & Stroke, to render and shaped the graphic art. There will be no pixel created, rendering done by mathematical value of the software engine. Therefore vector graphics are always high resolution and scalable to any size at the same time remain the byte size.

After you master the Pen Tool and Shape Tools tutorial, you should know the core of vector graphic - Fill & Stroke, because this is the main element that will inspire you on how to create vector illustrations, how to fill colors, gradients and playing with stroke.

  • The Color inside the compound of a graphic shape.
  • 2 types of Fill colors, Solid and Gradient Fill.

Fill Color using Swatches

To fill an object, open up your Swatches Palette. Select your object and pick any color from the swatches.

Fill Color using Color Picker

Another way to fill color is by double clicking on the Fill in your Tool Palette. A Color Picker window will appear and you can pick your color.


  • Path or the outline created (using Pen Tool or other drawing tool) that formed the graphic shape.
  • Stroke is actually the value of path when it applied with color & thickness value.
Adding Stroke & Fill using Control Palette

You can also easily change fill, stroke color and stroke weight by accessing your Control Palette at the top of your artboard.

Stroke Styles - Caps

The Stroke Caps determine the start and end points of a stroke. This applies to open paths only. You can choose between a Butt, Round, or Projecting cap.

Stroke Styles - Miter Limit

The stroke’s Miter Limit specifies the appearance for the joins in a shape. Notice how the joins look after we applied different miter settings to the stars.

These are some very basic knowledge to know about Fill & Stroke. On the next post later we will come back to show more on how to make Fill Gradient for your artworks.

The less popular drawing tools in vector graphic editor, Adobe Illustrator in this case is the Pencil Tools. Unlike the Pen Tools as we describe previously, the Pencil tool normally used to draw some free hand lines, irregular shapes which precision does not matter. Though it is good to see what and how the Pencil Tools in Adobe Illustrator can do.

Pencil tool - Drawing A Line

Select the Pencil tool from Tool icon, note that your mouse cursor indicates the pencil tool ready to draw. Now draw by click your mouse (or stylus pen if you're using it), hold and drag to make line shape.

As you can see the line created will have anchor points & stroke - the basic of vector drawing. The anchor points are automatically created by the software engine depends on where the curves you make.

Closing Paths with Pencil Tool

To close a path, hold Alt as your Pencil Tool reaches the start point. A circle icon will appear next to the Pencil Tool to indicate path closure.

From a line, close the path (join back to the first point) and it becomes a compound of a shape.

Smoothing Jaggy Lines

Smooth Tool is used when lines you draw with Pencil Tool looks jaggy. To smoothen the parts that are jaggy, select Smooth Tool or simply hold Alt (Option for Mac) to turn the Pencil Tool to Smooth Tool. Then draw over the area of the lines which you would like to smoothen.

Reshaping Path

The Pencil tool is also possible to reshape a path line, make sure your path is selected and use the Pencil Tool to redraw the parts you would like to reshape.

Note that the start and end path (show in dotted line, left image above) must be close to the original path to make it work.

Customizing Pencil Tools

You can turn on the Pencil Tool Preferences by double clicking on the Pencil Tool. You can change the fidelity and smoothness to find a combination that works for you.

Fidelity: Determines how close the path is drawn to your mouse movement. Set it at a higher fidelity if you’re not good at drawing with your mouse.

Smoothness: The higher you set for smoothness, the less anchor point it produces. Thus, producing a smoother line.

Double click on the Pencil Tool to open the Pencil Tool Preference to make some adjustment.

Eraser Tool

Use to delete paths, and most of vector objects. You can experiment the use of Eraser tool with the shape you have been draw.

  • The Eraser tool works based on selection. It will erase only that object selected. If there is no object selected it will erase any valid object it comes in contact with (object type that is erasable). Objects can be on any layer, or in a group, but they must be unlocked.
  • Objects that are not erased by the Eraser tool are: Images, Text, symbols, Graphs, and Gradient Meshes. The preview works on all objects, so it looks like these objects will erase, but on mouse up, they are not changed.
Find out more on Eraser tool here.

There are 2 types of Drawing Tools in most vector graphic applications, the Pen Tool and Pencil Tool. Others include Paintbrush Tool, Line Segment Tool, Eraser Tool and etc. But we will focus on the most important tool in drawing vector graphic - the Pen Tool.

Pen Tool

The most important tool in any Vector Graphic programs is the Pen Tool. Pen Tool creates path (stroke) from point to point.

Drawing Straight Lines

Select the Pen Tool and click once to add the first anchor point. Move your mouse to the next position and click again to create the second point. The two anchor points will be connected together. Continue doing this to create a W shape as shown. To draw a new line, click the Selection Tool (the black arrow tool) and click back the Pen Tool again.

Closing a Path

To close a path, click back the starting point to close the shape.

Notice that when you want to close the path, the cursor (pen tool) will appear a small ‘o’ next to the pen tool - close path indicator.

Drawing a Curved Line

Click and drag to put out the handles to create a smooth anchor point.

Changing Path Directions

Click and drag to create a smooth anchor point. Without releasing your mouse, hold Alt and drag the handle up to change the path direction.

Drawing a Circular Path

Click and drag to create a smooth anchor point. Continue adding points and click back the starting point to close the path.

Adding Anchor Points

With the Pen Tool selected, go near the path where you want to add a new anchor point. + sign will appear next to the pen, click on the path to create a new anchor point.

Removing Anchor Points

To remove point, move your Pen Tool close to an anchor. - sign will appear next to the pen. Click on the anchor point to delete it.

Converting Anchor Points

To convert a smooth anchor point to a sharp anchor point, move your Pen Tool near the anchor and hold Alt and your Pen Tool will change to an arrow shape. Click on the smooth anchor to convert it to an anchor point. Click and drag on the anchor point again to change it back to a smooth anchor point.

Moving Anchor Points

Select the Direct Selection Tool and click and on anchor you want to move. Click and drag to change positions.

Changing Anchor Points

With the Pen Tool, you can quickly change the anchor directions. Hold Ctrl to quickly change the Pen Tool to Direction Selection Tool. Select the anchor point you want to edit. The anchor handle will appear. Now release Ctrl and hold Alt to change it to Convert Anchor Tool. Click and drag the handles to change the direction.

Drawing a Key Shape

After learning the concepts of how the Pen Tool works, lets draw a key shape. For the right angles (90°), hold Shift before adding anchor point to constrain it to 90-degree.

Tips for Using Pen Tool

  • Use as little anchor points you need to create your shape. Less anchor points make smooth curve
  • Add anchor points where there is a change in direction of the line/curve
  • Use shortcuts like Alt or Ctrl to quickly swap to other tools to edit your path
  • Hold shift to lock your path while adding new anchor point for 45° or 90° increments

Transform Tools in this tutorials covering the very basic functions as to show how to use the Scale, Rotate, Reflect and Shear. These are most common tools in any vector graphic applications. There are some more advance tools in Transformation but we should explore it later once we master the basic transform.


To Free Scale objects

Select object, click Free Transform tool (shortcut E), cursor will change, drag corner to freely scale the size. 

Tips: Hold Shift to scale consistently (proportionate)

To Scale objects by Value %

Select objects, double click Scale tool (dialog box appear), set the % value.
Select objects, (Menu) Object > Transform > Scale (dialog box appear), set % value.


To Free Rotate objects

Select object, click Free Transform tool (shortcut E), cursor will change, click anywhere outside of the object to freely rotate.

Hold Shift to rotate consistently 45° or 90° to the left or right.

To Rotate objects by Value °

Select objects, double click Rotate tool (dialog box appear), set the ° value.
Select objects, (Menu) Object > Transform > Rotate (dialog box appear), set the ° value.

Move & Duplicate

To Move objects by Coordinate Value

We can accurately move an object from one position to another position instead of dragging an object. Very useful when precision does matter.

Select object, double click Selection tool (dialog box appear), set Hor. & Ver. value, click OK.
Select objects, (Menu) Object > Transform > Move, set the H&V value, OK.
Select object, press Enter on your keyboard, set H&V value, OK. ← i prefer this method ☺

To Duplicate (Copy) objects by Coordinate Value

Note that there is a Copy button in the dialog box, simply click the Copy button to copy (duplicate) the object and the object will be paste onto the new position as the Horizontal & Vertical value set.

To duplicates more from the second copied objects, simply press keyboard Ctrl + D and repeat the action as many as you want.
Illustrator will record your last action - the Copy process with Hor. & Ver. value, so to repeat the last action use Ctrl + D (or in the Menu > Object > Transform > Transform Again').


Select object, double click Reflect tool (dialog box appear), set the axis value.
Select object, (Menu) Object > Transform > Reflect (dialog box appear), set axis value.


To Free Shear object

Select object, click Shear tool start shear by click & drag outside area of the object, the object will follow mouse direction.

Use your cursor direction where you want the Shear direction to follow.

To Shear object by Angle

Select object, double click Shear tool (dialog box appear), set the Shear Angle.
Select object, (Menu) Object > Transform > Reflect (dialog box appear), set the Shear Angle.

Choose the Axis - Hor., Ver. or by Angle °.


These are most common use of transforming objects in Adobe Illustrator that user will use. Practice always made perfect. You will learn more tips & tricks in your own learning.. keep on sharing..
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