Design the Perfect Rock and Roll T-Shirt with our Newest Arsenal Release

How to Design the Perfect Rock and Roll T-Shirt

When creating a rock and roll tee, nothing comes to mind more than a perfectly illustrated, bad ass skull and crossbones with snakes and chains thrown in for good measure. Am I right or am I right?

Get ready to craft up your own original masterpiece with a little help from Marketplace Artist, Steve Knerem, rock and roll tee expert. Steve has created this, the Skull and Snake T-Shirt Design Pack to help in your process. The possibilities are endless with this pack!

Buy the t-shirt design pack now – $17

skullandsnake t-shirt design-tee-sm

You’ll grab:

  • All 10 Illustrations including snakes, a skull, angel wings, illuminati eye, flower, brass knuckles, chains, horse head, and more.
  • the Original .AI file of this design
  • Men’s Triblend Ghosted mockup template

As a bonus, we throw in a sample of Jeff Finley’s popular eBook, Thread’s Not Dead, the Designer’s Guide to the Apparel Industry.

Use the elements in the skull and snake t-shirt design pack in Adobe Illustrator to create your own unique work of art.

You can either use this design as-is without changing a thing or mix and match. We recommend using the detailed snakes, skull and wings to create brand new designs.

Here’s what you get:

rock and roll t-shirt  skullandsnake-everythingyouneed_large

rock and roll t-shirt skullandsnake t-shirt design-breakthedesign
10 Hand-Drawn Vector Elements
Men’s Triblend Ghosted Tee Template

Now go off and create something great!

Buy the t-shirt design pack now – $17

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Vector Skull Icons Pack by Brandon Rike

Introducing the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Vector Skull Icons

Hey, Hey Go Media Faithful! If you haven’t heard, the countdown to Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is on!


If you’ve just stumbled on our site from outer space, it’s okay. Let’s back up for a moment while I tell you a little about my favorite event of the year.

You see, the annual Weapons of Mass Creation Festival, founded by Go Media Partner Jeff Finley, is the premier art, design and music event in the USA. Creative professionals, entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, students and fans gather annually to learn, get inspired, collaborate, network and celebrate their passion for art, design, music and entrepreneurship. It’s truly a grassroots movement to inspire and enable the creative mind. We believe that good things happen when ideas and talents are shared within the community. This mentality manifests itself into the lifestyle of a Weapon of Mass Creation. A person who defies the hand they’re dealt and makes things happen.

One of my favorite Weapons of Mass Creation is graphic designer Brandon Rike.  Brandon spoke at WMC Fest 2013 and can be found as a vendor at each of our festivals. He is well-known for not only his incredible breadth of work but his role as an inspiration for fellow designers.

Something super awesome.

I have had the opportunity to speak with Brandon on many occasions and let me tell you – he is the real deal.

So kind, humble, generous with his time and talent.

I’m really happy to announce that Brandon is now treating us to a very special vector pack created for Weapons of Mass Creation Festival:

weapons of mass creation skull-icons-preview-1 weapons of mass creation skull-icons-preview-2

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Vector Skull Icons Pack – Only $9

The Weapons of Mass Creation Fest Vector Skull Icons Pack includes 59 unique design weaponry themed vectors for use in Adobe Illustrator.

It’s way awesome and is making me all the more excited for this summer. I almost cannot stand it. How about you?

Vector Textures Tutorial: How to add character to your designs with our new Clouds Vector Textures Pack!

Hey Gang,

If you follow me, know me, used or seen my work you probably think of high detail illustration. Well, every once in a while you gotta change things up. From time to time I’ll do something quite opposite just to keep things fresh.

Last summer, I had the idea to do something quite different and photograph my own images. I have been a fan of all the Go Media texture packs and I have used them in my work and figured out ways to manipulate them through Photoshop and Illustrator.

I started taking high resolution photos and thought about what I would buy and how I would use the textures. The set is divided into 6 categories, the first release is my Clouds Vector Texture Pack.


Soon to be released are my Ground, Plants, Rocks, Trees and Water Packs. Keep an eye out!

Now, let’s chat about some of the tricks and ideas that I’ve used with these textures. Clouds, you’re up!

Ready to follow along?

First, grab the cloud textures here, only $9!

Now, let’s go!

First I’ll start with an effect using the clouds. This effect is based on simple placement using a clipping mask and creativity. I’ll start with the personal monogram I’ve been designing. I’ll open the CLOUDS.eps file in Photoshop.

1 vector textures tutorial buy textures at 2 vector textures tutorial buy textures at

I’m going to just grab some of the cloud textures and bring them onto the monogram file and start placing them over the design.

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Off the bat I know this is gonna be too much texture and won’t show enough of the design. I’m going to start over and change the color of the design and bring in another texture.

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From here I’ll place the texture over the design and select a clipping mask (click on the layer for PC and right click and select Clipping Mask selection)

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From here, I want to add a bit more to it with a simple drop shadow.

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Now, I’ll make a duplicate image of the design and set a complementary color stroke.

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Next, I’ll adjust the colors of the design that go better with the blue.

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Now I’ll select the colors of the cloud textures and change those colors.

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I’m thinking I want to take advantage of this pack and add a little more texture and grit from the upper left cloud.

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I’m just going to cut the middle out, paste it and duplicate the selection and just take a pre made eraser tool and get rid of certain areas.

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I’ll place it under the first cloud texture, adjust colors and then move the texture around a bit to get it where I want it.

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From here we created a simple texture using clipping masks duplicate layers and color strokes. Simple all from a cloud, creativity and knowledge.

Try this on your own and see what you come up with!

Grab the cloud textures here, only $9!

For more of Steve’s work, check him out his site or chat with him on Twitter.

Design with Ease and Efficiency: Introducing the Shark Attack T-Shirt Vector Pack

Design with Ease and Efficiency: Introducing the Shark Attack T-Shirt Vector Pack

What if I told you it was possible to produce a high-quality design minus all of the sweat and seemingly endless hours? It can happen, my friends. (You know I’d never lie to you.) I’d like to introduce you to a magical tool called the T-Shirt Design Pack, now available on the Arsenal! These packs, including today’s release, include everything you need to design the perfect t-shirt (minus the hassle plus all the glory). includes_everything_you_need

It’s really quite simple:

1. Download this baby.

2. Hop into .AI (if you’d like to modify the original file and craft up your own unique design)

3. Dive into Photoshop to mock up your work, further customizing the end result to your heart’s content.

4. Blow people’s minds.

So, if you’d like to save time (without compromising quality), you know what to do.

Gimme the Shark Attack T-Shirt Pack – only $17

You can also check out our other t-shirt packs: HERE

Take a glance at the Shark Attack T-Shirt Design Pack:

shark attack t-shirt vector pack - everything you need shark attack t-shirt vector pack - vectors shark attack t-shirt vector pack break_the_design

Now see ‘ya! Click to buy the Shark Attack T-Shirt Pack – only $17

Tutorial: How to Use your Photoshop Mockup Template from Go Media (A Beginner’s Guide)

Tutorial: Photoshop Mockup Template How-To from Go Media (A Beginner’s Guide)

Hello Rock Star Designer (your name here), I believe a celebration is in order.

You have just purchased the World’s Best Templates on Go Media’s Arsenal! Now you can:

  • Present your design to clients in a realistic, 3D setting on an actual product that has been professionally photographed
  • Test your product’s market potential as well as explore how it might look before going through the expensive manufacturing process
  • Impress and entice family, friends and future clients who’ll drool over your designs
  • Fully customize the appearance of your design and end product
  • Completely revamp your portfolio

Ain’t messin’ around, are you?

Hold. Stop. Wait a minute.

Need help diving in? You’ve come to the right place! Here is a How-To-Video, helping you newbies feel your way around our mockup PSDs.

Want to grab the amazing design we used? Head to the Arsenal to pick up Steve Knerem’s Day of the Dead T-Shirt Design Pack. Use the design as-is or modify the design in .AI to make it your own!

For a step-by-step written guide, head to our post – Newbie’s Guide to Beautiful T-Shirt Mockups

Need mockup templates, but don’t have Photoshop? Try our realistic mockup site, Mockup Everything, where we offer hundreds of templates (and counting). Try it free for 7 days now!

New T-Shirt Vector Pack Release: Produce an exceptional and unique t-shirt design in moments. (Yes, you!)

New T-Shirt Vector Pack Release: Produce an exceptional and unique t-shirt design in moments. (Yes, you!)

Hello Designers,

If you’re like me, there are a million things you want to accomplish. Like, today.

But time (and frankly, a tiny bit of skill) have kept me from checking those things off of my ever-growing list.

Until now.

Thankfully, I have some amazing friends who have hooked me up with the tools I need to not only check off my to-dos, but look like somebody who’s somebody doing them too.

And they’re here to help you as well.

Introducing the T-Shirt Design Pack

Here we go ya’ll. A way to actually design an exceptional (and unique) t-shirt in moments (little design skill needed…but lots is great, too).

I don’t know about you, but I consider it a miracle.


With today’s release, the Day of the Dead T-Shirt Design Pack by Steve Knerem you’ll get everything you need to design the perfect t-shirt:

  • All 10 Haunting Illustrations
  • The Original .AI file of this design (allowing you to make it all your own)
  • A Men’s Triblend Ghosted Mockup Template to make your final design look professional and realistic
  • As well as a sample of Jeff Finley’s popular eBook, Thread’s Not Dead, the Designer’s Guide to the Apparel Industry, so that you can be on your way to apparel industry greatness


So, what do you say? Let’s not waste any more precious time…

Click here for design greatness, only $17.

How to design a great t-shirt (even with minimal design skills) quickly: The Unleashed T-Shirt Pack by Steve Knerem

In design, it seems, speed and quality rarely go hand in hand.

But there are some instances when you can have it all.

Introducing the T-Shirt Mockup Pack

With our new t-shirt mockup packs, you can design a great t-shirt quickly.


Here’s what happens: we hook you up hard core with all of the artwork and mockup files. You take those files into AI and modify the original illustration (if you so choose). Then, you mockup your design in Photoshop with some of the World’s Best Templates (ours of course). Bada bing, bada boom: you’ve got a t-shirt to call your very own.

You have ultimate creative freedom, giving both you seasoned designers, and those of you with beginner design skills, countless possibilities.

Today we unveil…

The Unleashed T-Shirt Design Pack

This t-shirt design pack includes:

  • All 9 Vectors created by Steve Knerem
  • Both Original .AI files of this design, offering you 2 color variations from which to work
  • 2 Mockup PSDs: a Ghosted Long-Sleeve T-Shirt and Zipper Hoodie (Back Version)

As a bonus, we throw in a sample of Steve Knerem’s Video Tutorial: Hand Illustration for T-Shirts: Part 1 of 3

I want it now – $17

Take a peek at the goods

2colorvariations breakthedesign_unleashed1

Sample Included
Sample Included

So, umm. What are you waiting for?

Give it to me now – $17

Want to create a customized rock and roll tee (minus the lengthy design hours)? We can help.

Life as a designer can be completely overwhelming. With projects constantly coming through, work piles up and never-ending revisions make for long days and late nights. It isn’t like we’re not completely thankful, but let’s be honest:

Sometimes we just need a break.

Thankfully, we know of a little shortcut sent from heaven. This shortcut cuts precious hours, saves us money and basically makes us look like rock stars.

Introducing the t-shirt design pack.


This little gem of a product is a designer’s dream. Why? It includes everything you need to design a great customized t-shirt in no time flat:

  • All of the vector illustrations (no need to create your own!) by the amazing OK Pants (otherwise known as Aaron Sechrist) 
  • All original .AI files (including 4 color variations masterfully chosen for you)
  • A tri-blend ghosted t-shirt mockup .PSD (professionally present your artwork)

And looky here you even get:

How do you start saving your own sanity?

Just click here:

Road Hog T-Shirt Design Pack by Aaron Sechrist

break_the_design gma_tmp_mens-triblend_front-ghosted roadhog-feature-header

Vector Freebie: Go Media Design Tools

It’s your lucky day.

Hey Go Media Faithful!

As many of you know, we’ve done a good bit of work to the ‘ole Go Media Storefront in the last year.


Because of this, our very own Carly Utegg has been hard at work designing the window elements seen in heavenly “After” image above.

We love the design tools she created so very much that we’ve decided to release a vector freebie based on her designs.

Yep, just for you.

Just head over to the Arsenal and snatch ’em right up!

Hurry before it becomes a $1.00 download!

How to Create Your Own Vector Pack – and sell it!

So you’ve seen all the crazy vector packs we sell over at the Arsenal. Today I’m going to teach you how to create your own stock vector pack and show you how you can sell it online with Gumroad!

Come up with a theme

Before you start coming up with a stock vector pack, you have to think about what would be useful for other designers. What can you make that will save them time? What are you skilled at making? A selection of cool textures you made or a set of birds? What about a set of skulls, heraldry, or ornaments? Vector patterns even zombies? Whatever you fancy, there are two or three primary ways of creating it. I will walk you through each of them.

Option 1: Live Tracing Photos

Note: You shouldn’t work with photos you do not have permission to use. You should either buy the photo with the proper rights off a stock photo website, shoot the photo yourself, or ask the photographer for permission.

The first option is the easiest. It can be as simple as taking a photo and using the live trace command in Illustrator. But often it requires some tweaking and masking in Photoshop before you run the ole vectorizer on it. This option works best for textures, abstract images, or a raw “photocopied” look. The idea is to create a usable element someone else can use in their design. In my experience, converting the photo down to just black and white is best, but of course you can do whatever you think would be most useful.

For example, take this texture for instance. We shot this photo for one of our texture packs.


Open up your texture photo in Photoshop and desaturate it by pressing Ctrl+Shift+U. Then invert it by pressing Ctrl+I. Then you end up with this:


This is getting close to be able to vectorize. But we want to boost the contrast a bit. So press Ctrl+L to bring up the levels and adjust them accordingly:


Then copy/paste or place the image into Adobe Illustrator and click the “Live Trace” button in the upper toolbar.


Then click the “Expand” button. You’ll also want to use the Magic Wand tool and select the “white” background that Adobe Illustrator had converted to vector as well. You don’t need the white part, just the black shapes.


This is the final texture:

Here is an example of how the vectorized texture will look once applied to background:


Here’s another example of placing the photo directly into Illustrator and running the live trace filter.


The final texture is below. Pretty useful for backgrounds!


Option 2: Drawing off Reference Photos

I would highly recommend reading this tutorial by William Beachy on Frankensteining several photos together. To save you some time though, I will share the most important bits relevant to creating your own vector pack. Essentially you want to find good source photos (take them yourself or get permission to use someone else’s) and then draw/trace on top. The idea is to get a simplified vector version of the photo.

Go Media New Document

In the example above, Bill uses the pen tool to illustrate directly on top of the photo. It gives it sort of a highly polished look with just a few colors. The skull below is an example of illustrating directly on top of a photo.


If you want to go for a more grungy look, then take a look at the images from the popular Gigposter Tutorial from 2007.  This photo below  is just an example to show you the process:


Cut out the subject from the background using the Pen Tool or your favorite masking procedure. I have seen but haven’t tried it yet.


Here are two different settings for contrast. In this case, it was done to give you two different levels of color. One will be used for the lightest shade, a medium shade, and the full silhouette will be used as the darkest shade.


See below how each version was live traced:


Now look how each one was given a different color:


And then they are finally arranged on top of each other to complete the three color look. If you’re interested, I made a free Photoshop action quite some time ago to instantly give you a three color effect in Photoshop.


Option 3: Drawing from Scratch

Finally, if you’ve got some drawing skills, you can always draw your vector shapes by hand on paper like below:


And you can see those drawings by Dave Tevenal for our Ornate Vector Pack were Live Traced directly in Illustrator without much editing.


It’s really important to make sure your drawings have a clear distinction between black and white. Pencil drawings do not live trace well. Neither does ball point pen. We recommend using Micron pens or something similar.

Keep in mind when you scan your drawings, they should be fairly high resolution so the Live Trace works well. You might need to clean up any stray dots or mess around your image.

Here are other examples of drawing from scratch:


And the final vector version you can find in our Ornate Patterns vector pack:


Selling Your Vector Pack

Once you have a finished vector pack, you can sell it on your own website or blog using Gumroad. We are huge fans of Gumroad and they make the process extremely easy. You just upload your product and preview image, set a price and you’re done. They give you easy embed codes to copy and paste the button right onto your website.

Gumroad will handle all the credit card payments. The downside is they don’t take Paypal, but that’s ok.


I don’t really need to tell you step by step how to use Gumroad, they already do it quite well. But I’ll give you some tips – the preview image you use goes a long way in showing off your product. You only get one big image, make sure it shows off the benefits of your vector pack!  Another tip is trying out the “Pay What You Want” feature for freebies!

In fact, you can see how Go Media uses Gumroad by checking out our profile page.

Another place you can sell it is on a marketplace. We are close to launching the Arsenal Marketplace which will become a curated collection of some of our favorite resources designed by us and fellow artists. Another great option is Creative Market.

Examples of Finished Vector Packsgma_vector_set05_flames_prv_all gma_vector_set09_abstracthalftones_prv_all gma-set-11-all-prv-birds gma_vector_set08_arrows_prv_all

If you make your own vector pack, post a link in the comments to where people can buy or download it!

Comic Book Illustration Inspiration: 50+ Examples

We slept with “How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way” underneath our pillows.

We’re responsible for 41,052 of these 141,053 some YouTube views.

Needless to say, we love comics. They’re a part of who we are as illustrators here at Go Media.


We have a habit of collecting comic book illustrations that will inspire our own future work.

On our Pinterest board, you’ll find a whole board dedicated to these illustrations. Follow us!


We’ve also published a couple of posts about this very subject:
Comic Book Style Graphic Design by William Beachy
Some Like It Dirty: Comic Book Inking and Coloring Tutorial by Alex Singleton

Now onto the Show!


by William Beachy via the GoMediaZine


via Pinterest by Shelton Bryant

via Pinterest by Marcio Abreu


Thor by the Chamba on Deviant Art


Avengers Doodle by Nebezial on Deviant Art

Batman by Eduardo Francisco on Deviant Art


New Artbook Cover by Mark Brooks on Deviant Art


Wonder Woman by Ed Benes on Comic Art Community


Feed Rufus Concepts by Marcin Karolewski


Rat King by Mikuloctopus on Pinterest


Brigada by Enrique Fernandez on Behance


Batgirl by Stanley Lau on Deviant Art


Zombie Batman by André de Freitas

Batman by Jim Lee on Pinterest


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Craig Bruyn on Behance


by Bruce Timm via Pinterest

by Adam Hastings via Behance


Rafael Grampa via Pinterest

by Jack Kirby via Pinterest

Green Lantern Reloaded by Jamie Tyndall


by Brett Parson via Pinterest


by Skottie Young via Pinterest


by Joshua Middleton via Pinterest


by Lee Bermejo via Pinterest


by Rafael Albuquerque via Pinterest


by Esad Ribic via Pinterest


by Tim Sale via Pinterest


A Kiss for Peter Parker by Des Taylor


Wonder Woman by Chris Uminga


by Joe Quesada via Pinterest


Off to School via Pinterest


Rise of the Guardians via Pinterest


Hulk Geo – amended by Jamie Roberts

Wolverine V. 1 by Gio Puno via Behance


by Christian Nauck via Behance


by Kit Kit Kit via Pinterest


by Simone Bianchi via Pinterest


Joker via Pinterest

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by Mahmud Asrar via Pinterest


Fantastic Four by Juan Doe via Behance

Superman by James White via Pinterest


Black Cat by Bobby Rubio via Pinterest


Batman Black and White by Michael B. Myers Jr. on Dribbble


The Bat by Alan Iwanowski-Pineiro on Dribbble


Space Vikings by William Beachy on Behance


Joker and Batman by Hugh Rookwood via Pinterest


by Michael Cho via Pinterest


by Jorge Coelho via Pinterest


by Moebius via Pinterest


Loki and Thor by iammovan


Scott Pilgrim by Glen Brogan via Pinterest


Batman and Rogues by Shane Hillman via Pinterest


Batman and Robin by Colin Fix via Pinterest


Hard Boiled by Geof Darrow via Pinterest


by Kaloian Toshev Illustration via Pinterest


Sakai Vector via the GoMediaZine

Need a hand crafting some superheroes for your own designs?


Our Superheroes Vector Pack is available now on the Arsenal!
Superheroes is the skilled handiwork of master illustrator William Beachy & includes 10 easily customizable superhero templates in dynamic, foreshortened poses, plus 24 speech bubbles. Add your own costumes or use them just the way they are!

Call of Duty: Black Ops features Go Media Vector Art

We’re all still pretty young here at Go Media. Heck, Go Media founder Bill Beachy is only in his thirties. So yea, it’s fair to say we’ve played plenty of Activision’s award-winning action game Call of Duty. That’s why we were excited to get the call from Activision saying they wanted to use our vector art in the latest installation of the series: Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Activision hand picked images from The Arsenal for use in the Playercard editor of Black Ops.   There are more than 480 images, but it’s not too hard (especially for long time fans of The Arsenal) to pick out the skulls, heraldry, or disgruntled suits that came from our library.

Check out the (admittedly lo-res) screenshots of the emblem creator below.  Images in the emblem editor can be colored, moved, rotated, resized, and overlapped to create unique playercards.

call of duty gomedia arsenal
arsenal call of duty
arsenal vector art call of duty
call of duty vector art

Video Tut: iMac Illustration

Vectors Imitate Life with Gradient Mesh


A Picture Worth a Thousand Points:

To start things off, we need a source image to serve as our template for this gradient mesh image.  For this tutorial I’ll be using a light bulb photograph from the stock.xchng.  I chose this particular image because it has clearly defined edges, as well as components that the subject it can be separated into.  The outline of the light bulb as a whole is crisp.  Also, you can easily subdivide the object into several components, such as the glass bulb, the metallic base, and the wire filament.  This will make it easier to work with, as you’ll see further along in the tutorial.

After downloading the source image and putting it into an easy-to-find location, open up Illustrator and create a new document that is 768×1024 (I’m using Illustrator CS3).  Make sure to open up the Advanced section to make sure that the Color Mode is set to RGB.


After your new document is created, go to File > Place…


Now Place our light bulb stock onto Layer 1 of our canvas.  When it’s on the canvas, adjust the height/width of the image so that it better fills the space.  With the stock image selected, use the Free Transform Tool (shortcut:  E).  You can easily and proportionately resize the image by holding Shift+Alt while dragging one of the image corners.  This allows you to resize both the height and width proportionately, while the center point remains firmly in place in the middle of the canvas.



Now go to the Layers tab and double click on Layer 1, which is where your stock image should be sitting on.  A popup window will appear with the Layer Options.  Rename it to “Original”, select the “Template” option, and deselect the “Dim Images…” checkbox.


All Gradients Start Off with a Single Color:

First, create a new layer.  Bring up the Layer Options popup for this one.  Rename the layer “Bulb”.

Next, use your Rectangle Tool (shortcut: M) and create a rectangle about where the middle of the bulb is.  Turn off the outline of this shape, and give it a green fill (0,255,0).


Then, go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh…


In the Popup, give your gradient mesh the following settings.


When that’s done, your green rectangle should look like this:


Now, select your Free Transform Tool again.  Use this tool to resize the rectangle so that its top, bottom, left, and right sides line up with sides of the light bulb’s glass part.  Then change the overall opacity of the rectangle to 50% so that you can see the bulb through it.


Once this is all in place, take your Direct Selection Tool (shortcut:  A) and adjust the outer points of the rectangle so that they line up relatively with the outline of the bulb.  As you select these points, you will notice that they have handles attached to them.  Use them to adjust the curve of the outlines.  Try to make minimal adjustments to the points vertically.  Adjust the points by moving them primarily horizontally.




As you can see, there are not enough points to make this shape completely conform to the outline of the light bulb.  So we will add some.  Select the Mesh Tool (shortcut: U).VectorsImitateLife-014

After selecting this tool, place the cursor over the edge that you want to modify.  Then, when you click on the edge, it will create a new set of points on the gradient mesh.  Once those points are created, you can use them to further refine the outline of this shape.  Repeat this process until your gradient mesh shape is the same as the outline of the bulb.




Now some of you might be wondering why I chose to create the light bulb shape like this, instead of just by tracing the bulb’s outline with the Pen Tool.   Take a look at this 2-row, 2-column gradient mesh I created using a shape I made with the Pen Tool:

This is the shape:


And this is the gradient mesh created from it:


As you can see, when the gradient mesh was created out of this shape, it didn’t use any of the vector points from the original shape when it created the columns and rows.  It created its own points on the top, bottom, left, and right sides.  Using the Mesh Tool and clicking on individual points will result in a similar issue.  It may use the point I selected on the left side, but it will create a new point on the right side to connect to, completely disregarding any other points that might be close by.



So essentially, it’s my preference to use a rectangle when I create the initial gradient mesh because it allows me to make better use of all the vector points at my disposal.

This Shade of Green is Not Very Realistic, is it?

Now it’s time to start changing the colors of this gradient mesh from neon green to something that resembles an actual light bulb.  Take your green gradient mesh and restore the opacity to 100%, so that the image is a solid color once more.  Then, change the view of the canvas to Outline Mode.  You can do this either by going View > Outline or by using the shortcut Ctrl+Y.



Now there are two tools you will be using extensively from here on out:  the Direct Selection Tool and the Eyedropper (shortcut: I).  Take your Direct Selection Tool and select the vector point in the middle of the bulb.


Then take the Eyedropper and select the color of the background image as close as you can to the vector point.  In this case, the color will be white.  Now, if you turn off Outline View, instead of the gradient mesh being solid green, there will be a spot of white in the middle.


Turn Outline View back on and repeat the process to change the colors of all the vector points on this bulb.  Every vector should be made to match with colors right next to them (with the exception of the several vector points that are along the middle vertical line running through the bulb.  Aside from the ones that are attached to the outline, those should be made white, like the initial vector color change illustrated above.  We’re ignoring the filament related features of the light bulb for the moment).  When you are done, there should not be one spot of green left on this image and it should look similar to this:


In the original light bulb picture, there is a great deal of white in the middle of the light bulb before it starts turning gray.  We’re going to remedy this not by adding more vector points, but by adjusting the ones that are already in place.  If you take your Direct Selection Tool and select the center vector point, a set of handlebars will appear.  They may be hard to see against the gridlines, if they’re perfectly horizontal and vertical like in the image below, but you can tell they’re there by the four dots that end each handlebar.


These handlebars are used to control not only the curve of the gradient mesh lines, but also how far the vector point’s color extends before blending into the color attached to the next point.  If you keep the handlebars close to their originating vector point, the color will be strongest only close to the point.  If you extend the handlebars out farther, the color will extend further too.  If you extend some lengths of the vector point handlebars, and then shorten up the handlebars of the other vector points connected to them, you’ll see how much the colors are affected by these changes.  This image is what happens if you shorten the middle vector point’s handlebars, and then lengthen the outer edge vector points’ handlebars…


…And this image is what happens if you lengthen the middle vector point’s handlebars and shorten the outer edge vector points’ handlebars.


Now using the original image as a guide, make it so that the white color of the bulb fills most of the gradient mesh, using just the handlebars.  When you’re done, the mesh should looks something like this:


It’s All About the Fine Tuning

Now we have a basic shape and look of the bulb portion of this image.  However, we want to make this as realistic as possible.  The ultimate goal is to create something that, at first glance, someone would mistake for a photo of a light bulb.  So we’re going to have to take a look at the original image again.

Go back to Outline View and let’s take a closer look at the very top portion of this bulb.


As you can see, there are some rather distinct color changes between the edges of the bulb and the white portion of the middle part.  So what we’re going to do is create a few new vector points so that we can recreate this more defined gray area.  Take the Mesh Tool (shortcut: U) and make a point where illustrated below.  Then take the Eyedropper and select the gray color that is right next to point you just made.


Now repeat this action, but this time use the Mesh Tool to create a point right below the one you just made, right where the white/light gray area meets the dark gray.  Use the Eyedropper to select the nearby color for this point too.


Now when you go turn off Outline View, you’ll see that there is now a more defined gray area where you made those points.




It looks a little unnatural for the moment, but this will be fixed after we go through and do some more editing.  Adjust the handlebars.  Add additional points where necessary to the gradient mesh.  It will take some time, but in the end you will end up with a bulb that looks like this:


Compare this image with the original light bulb…


Pretty close, isn’t it?  Here is a look at what the gradient mesh for the bulb looks like after all my tweaking to make it resemble the original:


As you can see, I created more closely packed vector points and lines around the areas where I wanted to add more detail, which were at the edges and their varying shades of gray.  In order to edit some of those points, particularly around the places where they bunched up really closely, I would have to zoom in anywhere from 200% to 800% to be able to adjust the vector point colors and handlebars.  That attention to detail, though sometimes time-consuming, will pay off in the end.


Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Let me let you in on a little secret (well not really a secret… more along the lines of common sense reminder).  Even though this is a tutorial about using gradient mesh in Illustrator to recreate a realistic image, is that reason enough to make EVERYTHING in the image out of a gradient mesh?

Simply put…


If you can get away with replicating parts of the image using regular vector shapes with creative use of gradient fills, strokes, and other filters provided by Illustrator, then by all means do it!  It will save you time and maybe even a little bit of your sanity in the long run when doing gradient mesh images.

Case-in-point:  The filament of the light bulb.

The filament of the light bulb is made up of some very thin pieces of metal with even thinner pieces of wire suspended or placed between them.  In my opinion, it is not necessary to use a gradient mesh because their appearance can be replicated using some very thin strokes for the wires, and then using some shapes with gradient fills for the metal.

First, turn off visibility of your Bulb layer so that you can see the original photo.  Then make a new layer and name it “Filament”.  Then zoom in so that you can clearly view the filament portion of the bulb.  Turn off your fill color, make your stroke color some bright, non-black/white color, and use your Pen Tool to trace the outline of one of the metal pieces holding the wire filament in place.


Then, with the shape selected, open up the gradients palette and give the shape a linear gradient fill with a .75 pt stroke.  The stroke should be colored #0D0D0D, and the fill should be #383838 on the far left, #575757 at 50%, and 1F1F1F on the far right.



When viewed up close, this clearly looks like a flat shape.  However, when viewed from its normal dimensions or smaller, it becomes very hard to tell the vector object from the original.  Can you tell which is which?



Now, using shapes and lines at your disposal finish building out the filament portion of the light bulb.  When you’re done, your partially completed light bulb should look something like this when both the Bulb and Filament layers are visible:



Divide and Conquer

Now that you know the basic for manipulating gradient meshes, all that’s left to do is to finish creating the rest of the light bulb.  What you will want to do is to single out specific components of the original image to recreate.

Here is an example of one way could subdivide the remainder of this image.  If it’s easier for you, go ahead and further subdivide larger portions of these components into smaller, more manageable pieces.   Take your time, pay attention to details, and cut corners where you feel that you’re able to.  Also make sure to create a separate layer for each component, so you can keep your work organized.


When you’re done, you should have a gradient mesh light bulb that looks as close to a realistic one outside of an actual photograph or 3D rendered object.  In Illustrator, the image may look slightly grainy.


Here is a screenshot of just the gradient mesh of the above image, sans all the colors.


Though it might appear grainy in Illustrator, when you export this image as something like a Jpeg, the gradients become smoother and more refined.


The files used in the creation of this tutorial can be downloaded here: [download id=”61″]

In Conclusion

Using the techniques taught in this tutorial, one can go about creating many different kinds of realistic vector images using gradient meshes.  The techniques used here work best with images of things that can be cleanly divided into segments, such as mechanical devices, automobiles, insects, instruments, plants, etc.  It is also very possible to recreate more complex organic objects using gradient mesh, such as birds, fish, reptiles, mammals, and even human beings.

Subject matter like that will be covered in future tutorials at a later date.  Till then, I hope that I was able to enhance your knowledge of gradient meshes and Illustrator by another degree.

All Gradients Start Off with a Single Color:

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