I am trying to find out how I can apply gradient meshes to complex vector line drawing I created in illustrator CS6. The line drawing was created by not making closed paths on each shape. I drew it as I would have it if was done by hand without over-lapping any of the paths.

So now it appears that I can't use the Gradient mesh tool because it is seeking only closed path segments and no compound shapes. I could trace over each shape to produce closed paths but that would be an awful lot of work.

In the past, I brought the vector line drawing into to Photoshop to do the rendering but want to utilize the power and control of the Gradient Mesh Tool to make a more realistic rendering.

Any suggestions?

  • Could you show us a screenshot? It's not entirely clear to me how your artwork is set up
    – Cai
    Jun 27, 2017 at 16:17
  • Most likely you can not use gradient mesh in either case as the gradient mesh only makes a square fields which sis very rarely needed
    – joojaa
    Jun 27, 2017 at 16:42

2 Answers 2


The easiest way to add gradient meshes to complex artwork is via stacking and not applying meshes to the original objects themselves.

In other words, create meshes on top of the existing artwork to add depth, don't convert your existing artwork to a mesh.

enter image description here


Gradient Mesh Tool works fine for open path also, it will be closed by mesh tool itself.

As to compound shape, Gradient Mesh Tool cannot create mesh directly for this case, but there is a workaround, you can read about that here.

  • Thanks for the quick answer. This is what I assumed I needed to do.
    – user97428
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:07
  • My biggest concern was your 1st statement regarding the mesh tool closing an open path. If I understand this function correctly, it still means that for complex shape on the line drawing that I want to apply a gradient mesh to that I will need to essentially create the mesh by tracing over the shape and then edit the mesh as needed to render the shape. I was hoping that there was some "magic smart tool" available to select a shape's path so I wouldn't have to trace over the lines that are already created.
    – user97428
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:12
  • In response to "Cai" above about adding a screenshot - I tried but it didn't seem to show???
    – user97428
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:36

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