Creating Gradient Type using Adobe Illustrator CS5

Now there are two ways you can get gradient text. One method is to create a gradient, add it to Swatches Panel and then use it to colorize your text. The other method is to create outlines out of text and then use the Gradient tool to use the gradient on the text. Each method has its pros and cons. While the in the first method the text is always editable, you have no control over the gradient after it is applied. On the other hand in the second method, once you create outlines the text becomes un-editable, but you can modify the gradient as you wish.


In this tutorial, I will explain both the methods and you can choose whichever suits you best.

Method I

1. Create a new document/ open an existing one in Adobe Illustrator CS5. Choose the Type Tool (T), draw an area type box and type in some text.


2. Undock the Swatches Panel. If you cannot find the Swatches Panel, go to Window > Swatches.

3. Now using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a rectangle that is of same size of the area type box or longer. The reason behind this is, the gradient will be repeated to fill the text. So longer the text, more repetitions. Since you won’t have any control over the gradient, once you add it to Swatches Panel and apply it to the text, you need to be careful while creating one. In case you want to modify the gradient later, you need to modify it in the Gradients Panel and then again add it to the Swatches Panel.

4. To create a gradient, open the Gradient Panel. If you cannot see the Gradient Panel, go to Window > Gradient. Create a gradient using two or more colors. This is what I created for this example.


5. Now select the rectangle and drag and drop it into the Swatches Panel.

6. Then select the text (using the Selection Tool (V)), make sure Fill is on foreground and click on the newly added pattern in the Swatches Panel. Your text will now be filled with the gradient.


Method II

1. Type some text in a Type box. Then with the Selection tool (V) selected, single click over the text to select and then right click. From the menu, choose Create Outlines.



2. Now select the built in gradients or create a new gradient. With the outlined text selected, single click in the small gradient preview in the Gradient Panel to apply.


3. Now if you want to change the direction of the gradient, you can do that. Choose the Gradient tool (G) in the Toolbox and drag into the direction to change the gradient stroke.



TIP: Once you create an outline from the text, you can ungroup the text and colorize them with gradient, individually.

Filed Under: Adobe Illustrator


About the Author: Minal is a freelance web and graphics designer. She specializes in designing Logos, Stationery, Graphics and Icons as well as website templates using graphical tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Expression Web. Twitter @saffronstroke

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  2. Varun says:

    Small trick which big sites don’t publish, nice work.

  3. ark says:

    when i do method 1, my text just goes black. what am i missing?

    • Minal says:

      Hi Ark,

      Could you please be more specific as to after which step the text goes black, since I could not replicate the issue you are facing. I suggest you start with a new document and try it again. If problem persists then do write us back with details.


  4. Tristan says:

    1. Make your text
    2. With text selected, click the menu button in the top right hand corner of the appearance panel and select “add new fill”
    3. change your fill to whatever you want.

    You can add multiple fills and strokes like that to any object including editable text.

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