Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Shading with the Adobe Illustrator CS5 Mesh Object

Simple lines can convey straightforward ideas, but subtlety often requires shading. Brian Wood, contributor to Adobe Illustrator CS5 Classroom in a Book, demonstrates using mesh objects to add gradients to curves. Brian shares his best tips for saving steps and preventing headaches as you work with mesh objects.
Like this article? We recommend

In its simplest form, a gradient is a blend from one color to another. Most of us who start out in Illustrator fall in love with gradients. But then we want more. Painting a curved object with a gradient, we wonder, "How can I get the gradient to follow the shape of the curve?" The answer: By using a mesh object (also known as a gradient mesh).

When I first read the words mesh object in Illustrator Help, I didn't know what that expression meant. All I wanted to do was apply that cool mesh of color to some object. As with other things in Illustrator, when you apply a mesh to an object, it becomes a "mesh object." That means that it's locked in certain ways. For instance, when you apply a gradient mesh to an object and it becomes a mesh object, you can no longer apply a regular ol' gradient fill to it. (You'll learn later how to remove a mesh from an object.)

A mesh object is basically a gradient on steroids. Gradients are either radial or linear. Illustrator CS4 added new gradient functionality, but it still wasn't enough for certain work. A mesh object takes the gradient further by allowing you to break up the gradient into a patchwork of mesh lines and mesh points. Each of these points and lines creates a smaller grid that can have a unique gradient for blending (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 An example of gradient mesh used in the face and hands. (That's me!)

Before you begin applying a gradient mesh to an object, it's important to note that there are several ways to create a mesh object. You can save time when creating the mesh by using the most efficient method. Here's a list of the most common ways to create a mesh object:

  • Create the mesh object from scratch: Click where you want to position the first mesh point. The object is converted to a mesh object with the minimum number of mesh lines.
  • Create a mesh object from a gradient-filled object: Select the object and choose Object > Expand.
  • Select Gradient Mesh and click OK.
  • Create a mesh object using a regular pattern of mesh points.

In this article, we'll focus on creating a mesh by using the regular pattern of mesh points, and you'll see how to edit that mesh.

Creating a Mesh Object from a Regular Pattern of Mesh Points

The easiest way to get started creating a mesh object (in my opinion) is to create a mesh object from a regular pattern of mesh points. This is probably one of the more widely used methods for a consistent mesh. Here's how it works:

  1. Select the object that you're going to turn into a mesh object.
  2. Apply a color fill to the object that will be used in the mesh. For instance, if you chose an ellipse that will become an orange, apply an orange color to it so that the mesh uses mostly orange. (You'll see what I mean in the next few steps.)
  3. Choose Object > Create Gradient Mesh.
  4. In the Gradient Mesh dialog box, you can change the number of rows and columns, which determines how many mesh patches are created. The greater the number of rows and columns, the greater the number of mesh patches. The more mesh patches, the more complex the gradient mesh. For this example, keep the number of rows and columns set at 4.
  5. In the Appearance menu, choose To Center. You can choose the direction of the highlight (To Center or To Edge), or you can remove the highlight (choose Flat). Try choosing each option and selecting Preview to see the effect on the object.
  6. Change the Highlight value to 80% (see Figure 2). Choosing 100% applies a solid white highlight, and choosing 0% removes the highlight.
  7. Click OK to create the gradient mesh.
  8. Figure 2 Creating a gradient mesh by using a regular pattern of mesh points.

As I mentioned previously, the gradient mesh is made of mesh points with interconnecting mesh lines. When you first create a mesh object, the only colors applied are the original color and white, with shades in between. Each of the mesh points can have a different color or transparency applied. Not only can you add or subtract mesh points or move them to suit your needs, but you can also change the color of each mesh point. We'll try that next.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020