Illustrator blend tool

by Design Workshop Sydney

The Illustrator Blend tool is a fast and easy way of creating precisely graduated increments of colour between several identical objects. We demonstrate this valuable tool in our Adobe Illustrator training courses.Print
First of all create a new document in Illustrator, 100 x 100 mm, using the RGB colour mode, for example. Then create a rectangle with the Rectangle tool which is stacked at the top of the toolbox on the left hand side of the Illustrator interface. With any of the basic shape tools you can simply click and drag on the page to create a shape. However, if you wish to create a more precise object click on the page whereupon a dialog box will appear, allowing you to enter width and height values.
In this way create a rectangle 10 by 6 mm, in the top right-hand corner of the page, for example. Next select the top anchor points with the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow tool) – you can either press the Shift key on your keyboard to add to a selection, or create a crossing-selection across the top two anchor points. Now click and drag the two selected point to the right to create a skewed rectangle.
Use the Reflect tool to mirror this object horizontally – do this by selecting the object with the Selection tool (the black arrow tool), then clicking on the Reflect tool, which may be stacked behind the Rotate tool. A dialog box will appear allowing you to experiment with the mirroring function. Tick Preview on the bottom left to display the changes as you create them. Click on Copy rather than OK, in order to create a reflected copy. Hitting OK would simply reflect the original.
Move the copy downwards with the Selection tool. Then go to Window and choose Pathfinder, select both copies and click Add, thus creating a compound shape. Next copy this arrow shape to the bottom left of the image by either going to Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C) and Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V), or by pressing Alt (Mac: Option) and dragging to one side. Change the fill colours to red and orange.
Next select the Blend tool and click on both objects. A dialog box will open; select Specified Steps: 3, whereupon Illustrator creates a sequence of objects with gradually changing fill colours.
This technique will work with all simple shapes, and even text if you convert the text to outlines (Type > Create Outlines).
Whether you’re a complete beginner or self-taught, our courses will help you gain self-confidence in your Illustrator workflow, as well as adding to your professional skill-set. See many examples of our Illustrator clients’ work on our Facebook page.
Other related Illustrator Blog Posts:
Illustrator workspace
Illustrator basics
Illustrator clipping masks
Illustrator live trace
Illustrator brushes