Quick Tutorial: Adding Gradients to Text

Adding Gradients to TExt

I’m sure a bunch of you have seen this technique before in other blogs or are already aware of how to add 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

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.

Step 1

Step 2

Set the fill and stroke of your text to none. If you don’t this, after you have applied the gradient to the text 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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

Step 4

Now apply a gradient and your done!

Step 4


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


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63 thoughts on “Quick Tutorial: Adding Gradients to Text

  1. 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’ !

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

    • 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. 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.

  8. 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,


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