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Creating smooth complex gradient (meshes?) in Photoshop or Illustrator.

Posted on 2008-06-13
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Please take a look at the image at his link:    It's quite impressive I think, and while I'm still just a neophyte at vector art, this is the kind of thing I really want to learn how to do.  Was this done Illustrator with meshes? In Photoshop? If it's done with meshes, is it just a question of practicing with them til you can duplicate the look and feel of this kind of image? Or are there some guidelines that can speed up the process. If you can give me a few tips to start, that would be great.

http://interfacelift.com/wallpaper/downloads/01326_mushroomlake_1440x900.jpg

Thanks!

John
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Question by:gabrielPennyback
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David Brugge earned 2000 total points
ID: 21784348
Doing complex work like this with vector meshes is tough. Some of the subtle details of the original can't be done with meshes.

Just for fun, I reproduced part of the image, both with a mesh and in Photoshop and times myself. Photoshop would have been faster but I got bogged down trying to copy some of the subtle blending on the underside of the mushroom. Something that I didn't attempt on the Illustrator version.

Always start your mesh with as few rows and columns as possible to get your basic color and shape. Then as you add mesh lines, they will already be a blend of the two previous lines and will only need tweaking.

As far as working in Photoshop. To do work like this, find some tutorials on airbrushing with stencils. Basically, an artist cuts out a stencil in the shape that he wants and sprays a flat color. When the stencil is lifted of course, there is an object in the shape of the hole cut in the stencil.

The magic comes in when the artist turns his bush down and sprays just the edge of the stencil leaving an intense area of color that fades into the object. You can do the same thing in Photoshop by using layer masks, or by drawing a basic shape, then locking the transparent pixels so that your brush will not paint outside of the border of your basic shape.
Original-Image.jpg
mushroom-starting-mesh.jpg
mushroom-mesh.jpg
mushroom-AI.jpg
mushroom-PS.jpg
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by:gabrielPennyback
ID: 21797830
Wow, thanks for spending that much time on it. What you've done looks great. The first problem I'm having though - and this is always an issue for me - is that I can't get my mesh lines to orient the way yours do in the first diagram.  And Even if I could (which I hope you'll be able to show me), I can't figure out how you got your shadow color to be that size and shape. (See my attached). I've tried filling every combination of mesh points and mesh spaces I could think of, and it can't come close to what your shadow fill looks like.

If you could answer this here then I'd be happy to post more questions to get through all of this.

Thanks,
John
mesh-lines-2.jpg
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by:David Brugge
ID: 21799092
I have gone on record saying that a program like Photoshop is a much better and far easier method to do this. It's not too late to turn back.

But if you want to tackle this thing called Illustrator Gradient Mesh, hang on. The road ahead is steep and full of twists and turns and there's not much of a map to guide the way. Many a strong man has turned back in frustration. Arrrrgh!

As you have discovered. The gradient mesh tool puts control lines wherever it jolly well pleases. There is not much say that you other than the number of rows and column.

But just because the program hands you a mishmash of points, that doesn't mean that you have to keep bound to it.

Every one of the points can be moved and adjusted. But you will discover that they can't be edited near as much as you would like, moving points on the outside edge not only tends to mess up your shape, you can't move a control point past your original Bezier point that you used to draw the object.

But do your best.

The idea is to think in terms of a 3D wire frame. You want your control points to follow the natural contours of the shape. This, in turn, will make the highlights and shadows follow the contours that you define. Then, to the ability that you have to control the lines, you will have the ability to control the shape of the shadows and highlights.

But it's not too late to do this in Photoshop.

3D.jpg
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by:gabrielPennyback
ID: 21807917
I was afraid of that, but thanks.  Photoshop, here we come!
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by:gabrielPennyback
ID: 21807990
Hey if you're still listening, how did you do the mesh in Phostoshop? please take a look at this other question of mine: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Photos_Graphics/Images_and_Photos/Adobe_Photoshop/Q_23490508.html

 tried following the steps in the linked tutorial with no results at all. Maybe the poster misunderstood my question, but as od now I'm clueless about how to do what you did abiove.

Thanks!

John
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 21807992
Ah come on. That was just the first step. It gets harder.

In truth, most illustrators use a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop and move back and forth to take advantage of each one's strengths.

Unless the final output has to be in vector format, Photoshop is the way to go for complex blends and shading.

I'll keep an eye out for your Photoshop questions.

thanks for the grade!

David Brugge
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 21808022
You and i were posting at the same time. Let me take a look at your question.
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 21808065
Throw your mushroom image up and lets talk about how to accomplish it (unless you want to try another image)
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