Quick Tutorial: Adding Gradients to Text

Text Gradients Thumbnail

I’m sure a bunch of you have seen this technique before in other blogs or are already aware of adding gradients to text, but it is worth mentioning for those that don’t know this technique. Moreover, I found that adding an extra step to this known technique, enables you add transparent gradients to text in Illustrator CS4 while still keeping the text editable!

The Problem: Adding Gradients to Text

There are only a couple easy steps to this technique. In Illustrator, you can’t apply a gradient to text the way you normally add gradients to other objects. You can Outline the text and then add a gradient, but then you can’t edit the text later. No need to worry, there is an easy way to add gradients to text and keep them editable.

Step 1

Create some text with the Type tool, with the font of your choosing. I am using my favorite font of the moment, Klavika Bold Condensed.

type tool

Step 2

Set the fill and stroke of your text to none. If you don’t this, after you have applied the gradient in the following steps, you will sometimes see the original text color peeking out on the text edges. Moreover, setting the fill and stroke to none, will make transparent gradients in Illustrator CS4 look correct. If you don’t set the fill to none initially, the color of the original text will show through your transparent gradient, not the object or color below the transparent gradient text.

no fill no stroke

Step 3

Select the text with the Selection tool, open the Appearance panel menu (top left menu button) in the Appearance panel and choose New Fill.

add new fill

Step 4

Now apply a gradient to text and your done! This has never been so easy.

apply text gradients to editable text

Experiment: Adding Gradients to Text

Below is an experiment using this technique for the transparent gradient text.


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79 thoughts on “Quick Tutorial: Adding Gradients to Text

  1. I wish to point out my love for your kindness supporting persons that must have help on that subject matter. Your special commitment to getting the message all-around became quite good and have surely allowed many people like me to attain their goals. Your own helpful instruction can mean a lot to me and even further to my office workers. Best wishes; from each one of us.

  2. This is boss! Thanks so much. I’m using CS6 right now and I’ve been using the masking method by drawing boxes with gradients for so long! Ended up looking this up because I couldn’t add a drop shadow with that method

  3. thanks, easy to understand. One question – when i warp the text the gradient doesnt remain it differs from letter to letter. i need the same colour line in the middle of all the letters bending with text. I need the gradient to be locked in place and move with text. Help please

  4. I’ve seen these instructions posted on several sites and tutorials. However, when I get to the step to “Add New Fill” in the Appearance window, “Add New Fill” is disabled. Any idea of a preset or default setting I need to change? This is driving me nuts!

  5. Hello,

    Thanks for the tutorial, it’s very usefull. I only have a problem. When I put the fill and stroke on none and I go to appearance, my option “add new fill” is blanc (I can’t select it). Do you know why I can’t use it? I’ve tried different types, but with all types I can’t add a new fill.

    Kind regards,


  6. Great Tutorial. Thanks! Is it possible to apply 2 different gradients within the same text box. Or a gradient and a color? For example, if I have a paragraph, and want to make 1 word in the middle a gold gradient?

    • Hi Jon, while it’s possible to add 2 colors to the same text box, it’s not possible to add 2 gradients to the same text box or a gradient and a color. You’ll need to separate the text into 2 separate text boxes to apply the 2 differing effects.

    • You are right, you can’t use this method with cs6 instead create a style with the gradient you need, apply it to your text and there you go. The text is still editable.
      Hope that helps…

  7. Hi. I’m new to Illustrator CS4 and I can add the gradient, per your instructions but, I can’t change the gradient colour from black (except for “Desert Sunset” or “Copper Radial”). I’d appreciate it if you can tell me how to get a gradient from the colour palette. Thank you so much.

    • @Penelope Select your text using the black pointer and you can see the gradient settings. On the gradient slider, double click (PC) on each tiny colour square to open up your colour pallet. Select the colour you want for each one. Done.

  8. Your website is great! Thank you for your good tutorials. Could you also publish a tutorial for creating effective circular gradient below the gradient text? Thank you so much!

  9. Just brilliant, Ta! After an hour of trying to find why it’s not easy to add graduation to text, and finding some weird solutions, THIS is just great! You’ve pout it simply and strait forward! Ace tip!

  10. I’ve been trying to create a super happy octopus on vector.tutplus.com, but I got stuck in step 6. I’ve followed the instruction. however, every time I tried to intersect the shape of the mouth & teeth, all the shapes are gone, except half the teeth.Help

      • Hi Rype, I still don’t know how to use intersect very well in CS4. So what I did was copying the original shape and add it to another shape. After I intersect it, I drag it back to the original shape :)) sounds dumb.

  11. Honestly I been spending like 2 months trying to fight this technique out. Thank you so much for this tutorial. This has ended on quest in my books.

  12. I’m a new reader of your blog & I must say that it’s awesome, I get along fine with Photoshop and InDesign but Illustrator always gave me a hard time, but now it’s all gonna change, thank’s to you !!! 😉

    Keep on rockin’ !

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