Blog: Secrets from the Chef

Cone Gradient in Adobe Illustrator. Episode Two: The Truth Is Out There

Dmitri JoukovAuthor: Dmitri Joukov
26 April 2006

Last week I promised to tell you how to make the right cone gradient in Adobe Illustrator. I must keep my word, and I have nothing but to reveal this secret on the example of the same compact disc.

First we’ll have a little brainstorm. I’ll give you a couple of clues and you try to make that cone gradient by yourselves. If you are lucky you can save your time and skip reading this article. Do here we go with the clues:

  1. Linear gradient
  2. Effects → Warp → …

Can you make out anything? Or not too much?

Our first step to the proper cone gradient will be a stretched rectangle filled with linear gradient. This is a very important step. You need to imagine that this rectangle will become a half of your compact disc. Be careful not to overdo with your imagination, though. Remember, you can start over again whenever you wish. I’ve been trying to find the right gradient for at least twenty minutes, if not more. If things go totally wrong, you can download my sketch.

Stretched rectangle with the gradient

Are you ready now? We move to the first of the omitted clues. It is “Expand”. You can do it with any Expand you like, but being the champion for the purity of the vector I am, I transform the regular gradient into Gradient Mesh.

Expand in the Gradient Mesh

I guess, our sharpest-witted readers already have guessed that the next step will be the horizontal Arc Warp by 100% (Effects → Warp → Arc), which will turn our rectangle into a perfect semi-circle with a cut-out midsection.

Horizontal Arc Warp by 100%

Arc Warp Dialogue

Breathe in and out, exercise done! Little things now. We need to apply Expand Appearance and fish out the object we need from a small heap of other objects.

Looking for the desired object

Unsophisticated copying and rotating by 180 degrees will make you almost a compact disc. If something did go wrong, you can download what I have made by now. Those who are very attentive may even notice that our object is not perfectly round…

Almost a compact disk

Now we need a sketch from the first part of my story. Downscale the object with the cone gradient to the size of the compact disc sketch; apply to it a mask in the shape of the disc and give it 70% transparency. Then you need to make a shade and the tracks as is was the case in the previous part.

Applying the mask

Keeping our time-honored tradition, you are welcome to download the source, where you will find both the compact discs. For those who like the free icons I have a small gift, an archive with the CD pictograms for Windows, Mac OS and with the PNG files for all the rest.

Two CDs in a row

The described method of making the cone gradient discloses great perspectives. You can combine the gradients and Warp effects in different ways. You are welcome to send us the results of your research.

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Very nice tutorial! Had a design client looking for a “Fan” gradient and I applied your method to make it happen. Thanks!

Reply Matt, 14 April 2007

Matt, thanks for comment. Check out the last post. I’ve found a better way of making cone gradient.

Reply joukov, 14 April 2007

Great shot! buy why can’t download the source?

Reply jw0117, 20 October 2008

Thank you very much for this.

I was trying to make a fan type of gradient where from left to right the gradient expanded upon the middle in a half circle. The only adjustment to this exercise I had to make was
Distortion:Vertical 100%.

Reply Elizabeth G. Worsley, 6 April 2009

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