Make Gradient Text in Illustrator and More

It’s great meeting our customers and finding out how they use our products; personally what I love the most is bringing new skills and methods into the mix, making new tools discoverable and relevant to their endeavours, or revealing tools/techniques that may have been overlooked (as you have your nose to the grindstone all day). Some questions keep coming up so there’s now a new category of posts on my blog—Q and A—where I’ll add the answer to common questions from customers and event audiences.

The Question:

“How do I put a gradient fill on text in Illustrator without outlining the text?”

The Answer:

Making gradient text in Illustrator isn’t perhaps as straightforward as you’d expect but if you know how it’s really simple:

  1. Use the Selection Tool to select the textstep1
  2. Make sure that the Fill swatch is in front in the Toolbox (tap X on your keyboard to toggle Fill/Stroke)
  3. Tap / (slash key) to remove the current fillstep2
  4. Hold down CMD and tap / againstep3
  5. Tap the Period (full-stop) key to apply a gradient fillstep4step5
  6. Use the Gradient Panel and Gradient Tool to adjust as desired
  7. Text is still live!

Don’t forget that you can add multiple fills and use opacity settings for each fill, as well as in the gradients themselves—the possibilities are almost endless.step8step9


14 Responses to Make Gradient Text in Illustrator and More

  1. Paul says:

    What is the name of the font you used here?

  2. Nathalie says:

    Exactly what I needed, thank you very much for the step by step explanation.

  3. Diana says:

    Nice!!!!! That totally worked.

  4. Stephen says:

    Thank you for that answer. So obvious. Can’t imagine why I couldn’t figure it out — not.

  5. Debra says:

    You lost me at Number 5. If text is highlighted and I tap a period it deletes my text. I’m sure I misinterpreting something.

    • Tony Harmer says:

      The text needs to be selected as an object, not highlighted as text. The period key is the shortcut to apply a gradient to the fill or stroke (depending which is frontmost in the toolbox). 🙂

  6. Mufaddal says:

    Can you explain what’s going on here by clicking CMD+/ or CTRL+/ ? in what way is the fill being transformed so that it shows mixed objects in the appearance panel?

  7. dandiro says:

    how do I make a gradient font with my own custom colours ?

  8. Pritish says:

    Thank you for this tutorial. It has been really helpful. 😉

  9. Pat says:

    Great article Tony, thanks for the tip! This is a bit of a bad user experience imo, could be improved on. I think when people try to make a gradient onto text, their first reaction is to reach for the gradient tool. Ideally, the gradient tool would apply a gradient like this to the text when used on the text, instead of just shrugging it’s shoulders and making the text black, but a dialogue box like “use the appearance panel.. etc” with a button that opens up the appearance panel would be a good compromise.

    Just out of curiosity, how do you guys do user testing on discoverability and stuff? Would changing the way the gradient tool works to be more intuitive be on the cards?

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