Bring a fluorescent transparency to life in Illustrator

  • Software: Illustrator CS5 or later
  • Project time: 2 hours
  • Skills: Use the Gradient Mesh tool, Make opacity masks, Work with colours and transparency

Although a lot of Illustrator tools are fairly simple to grasp, using them with finesse and perfecting the finer details can take further practice. In this tutorial we’ll look at a selection of transparency and gradient tools that aren’t always used as subtly and beautifully as they can be. We’ll create a lifelike but contemporary animal study here, but the techniques covered can be applied to any subject matter that requires a striking dynamic look or an elegant subtle shine, from branding to character design.

In my opinion, technical tricks should be secondary to the subject matter: there is no need to overemphasise a glow or a gradient when the natural form of your subject can stand up for itself. In this tutorial you’ll learn subtler tricks that, in the end, will result in higher-quality artwork.

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