Adobe Illustrator has become my main vector graphics program. It used to be Freehand, one of the main competitors to Illustrator, the other being Corel Draw. It was last owned by Macromedia until Adobe bought Macromedia and quickly killed Freehand. I loved Freehand and was a loyal user but I was able to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator long before the demise of Freehand. I still have the old versions of Freehand and occasionally use it from time to time. But I’ve come to love using Illustrator as a vector drawing tool in computer graphics. One of the best sites to see samples of graphic images created by Adobe Illustrator is IllustratorWorld. There are many unbelieveable works there created by some of the most talented artists. I can’t claim to have mastered Illustrator. There’s so many things that I don’t know how to do and I often wonder “How did he/she do this?” when I see a very complex artwork and can’t figure out how the graphic effect was created.
One of the great features of Adobe Illustrator is Gradient Mesh. I know it’s been around at least from Adobe Illustrator 10 since it’s the version I used when I created the sample that I’m about to show.
Because of the type of work that I do, I’ve never had to use Gradient Mesh. But I’ve seen some really outstanding illustrations using this feature and when I saw this super realistic illustration of a head of lettuce I decided I had to try it. I was really doing it to satisfy my need to know whether I could do it or not. Without reading a manual I tried it on a trial and error method. Rendering with Gradient Mesh is very tedious. You just have to be very patient and just plow ahead. But the results can be stunning and will be worth the time you put in it.
For my first subject I decided to render a couple of pink roses. Certain subjects tend to be easier to do than others and I thought flowers would be easier to work with when using Illustrator’s gradient mesh.
OUTLINE AND PREVIEW MODES
I took some snapshots of the file showing the “gradient mesh” of the graphics. In Outline view you can see the gradient mesh outlines.
In outline view you can see the structure of the gradient mesh. Below you’ll see the object in Preview mode with the object selected and showing the gradient mesh.
ROSES AND A PARROT
Besides the roses I did a couple of stems with leaves and rosebuds. As a second subject matter, I decided on doing a parrot. I thought it would be a great challenge because of all the colorful feathers. After I completed the parrot, I thought of combining the roses and the parrot to create a picture. With a really simple background this was what I came up with.
I wanted to do head of lettuce next, or something really complex but I haven’t found the time or energy to start up a new project. But at least I know I can do it if I ever run into a job using gradient mesh.