Adobe Illustrator: Using The Gradient Mesh Tool To Create A Match

This tutorial is going to show you how to use the gradient mesh tool, you can learn more techniques in our Illustrator classes in London and across the South of England.

To do this we are going to create a match, the first thing you are going to want to do is to create your background so just draw a black box on your page.



Next you are going to want to create a rectangle, this will be your body of your match so don’t make it too thick or too long.



Now we want to add the gradient mesh, there are two ways you can do this. You can use the tool from the tool bar but then you have to pick where your grid points are. The other way is to go Object tab and down to Create Gradient Mesh, after you click on that you will get a window pop up you want to set it the same way I have with 4 rows and 4 columns and an appearance of flat.



Once you click ok it will make you rectangle like this, the grid that appears on the rectangle is the gradient mesh we are now going to want to add some colour to it. So grab you direct selection tool and go to the centre anchor point in your gradient mesh and double click it to select it and then you can add a colour to it. How a gradient mesh works is that you can set colours to anchor points with in the mesh and it will that colour until it hit another anchor point or colour this means you get some realistic colouring on objects.



I would suggest colouring it in stages by colouring the middle then move out to wards the sides. For the middle line of anchor points you are going to want to have a darker shade of brown selected and add it to the middle row of points.



Next you are going to want to select a brown colour that is a shade lighter and add it to the row above and below the middle row.



After that you will need to select a colour that is lighter than the colour do that same thing to points which are located on the sides of the rectangle. And you show have something which looks like this.



Now we need to start making the head to our match, to do this you are going to need to draw a circle using the eclipse tool but make sure it’s only slightly bigger then then match stick. Once you have drawn it you will then need to use the direct selection tool to pull out one of the points just like below.



When you have pulled out the point you will then need to add some anchor points to make it look like the head of the match. To do this you need to go to where the pen tool is and then click and hold it, a menu should pop up after doing that where it will have a couple of different options on of which Is called add anchor point tool this is what we are going to use so select it. You are going to want to add to point and you need to add them to where the match head meets the match stick. Once you have the two new anchor points you will want to delete the one you pulled out to do this go back to the pen tool and click and hold again and select delete anchor point tool and delete it.



Now you have the shape you are going to want to colour it, we are going to use a gradient mesh again, it does not matter how many rows or columns you have but the more you have the more control you will have over the mesh. So all you want to do is colour with different shades of red to make it look like an actual match head.



Now we have our match we are going to need to make a flame to go with it. First thing you want to do is to make an ellipse and use the direct selection tool to bring the top point out just like we did with the match head once you are happy with the height change to the anchor point tool which can be found in the list pen tools. Then click it on the top point which will make it into this water drop shape. This layer should be set behind the match layer.



We are not quite ready for colouring first of all we need to make it transparent when the colour is black. First thing you want to do is to select your shape and then go to the window tab then down to Transparency and you will get a window which pops up. In this window there will be a dropdown menu from the list big screen, this will make blacks seem transparent, so you will the need to colour the shape black. You also need to do this for the background black box and for any other shape that is used for the flame.



When you have done that you can apply the gradient mesh and start to colour it. This is only the first part of the flame so don’t go to crazy on the colouring. Don’t use the outside edge columns otherwise you will get a hard edge on the flame. If you are not happy with how the colouring looks you can move the anchor point within the mesh to change how the colours look. For this part all you have to do is to make a basic shape of how you want the flame to look.



After that you will need some more detail so create the same shape as the stage before – unless you want to give your flame a different shape. You also want this layer to sit above the match so it makes it look like it is lit. For this part you are going to want to move the anchor points in the mesh so the flame looks more dynamic. Then you are ready to colour it – use light and dark colours in the appropriate places. You are now finished and you have just learned how to use the gradient mesh tool.