Category Archives: Colours

Colour flower gradients for Illustrator

With the arrival of Spring you may be working on design and print work which needs a bit of colour to cheer things up after the long dark winter.

This is a step by step guide to help you create your own gradients in Illustrator of natural colours and then build a swatch for your own purposes.

My wife and I are very luck to live in the countryside .  She’s an excellent gardener who adores flowers. Over the years we’ve built a good library of photos of our garden flowers, taken through the seasons.

Natural colour gradients from flowers

flower gradients
Real colour gradients from flowers.

Creating your own colour gradient swatches


Photo of the flower
Photo of the flower

Take a good, outdoor,  close-up photo of the whole flower with your digital camera. You don’t need to use an expensive camera.

Flower petal
Flower petal

In your image editing software, load the photograph and then crop the flower from the center to the edge of a petal. This allows you to grab colour variations from the flower. Same this image at a good size (1200px wide 72dpi will do).

Now you’ll need to open Illustrator.

Create a document, bring in the cropped image of the flower into one layer and lock it. Make another layer and  add a rectangle of the same width as the bitmap image and with a simple grey gradient, lock it. You should have something similar to what I have in the next image.


Now we can begin to select the important zones to build the gradient. Add another layer and call it “rulers”. Make sure  your options for rulers and markers are  on.


Working from the left to the right, add vertical markers to divide the zones of colours that you can see in the flower. These markers will then be used to pick and add colour to a swatch.


Add a new group of colours to the swatch.
Bring up the colour picker and your screen should be similar to the one above. illustrator-gradient-3

Again working from left to right using the picker, select the colour under the marker and add it your swatch.


After a few clicks your colour group should resemble the different zones of the petal.

Now we’re ready to change the boring grey scaled gradient into the final result.


Set your screen up as above, make sure the rectangle which will receive the gradient is active.

Begin selecting the colours

From left to right, add a step in the gradient  which correspondes to the marker, then drag and drop the colour from you swatch to the gradient step.

Add the colours to the gradient

Your gradient will build and can of course be adjusted.
Remember this is not an exact science and the result is about “appreciation”.  Add or save the gradient in a swatch so that it is easy to use on other objects. Remember you can change the aspect of the gradient, the angle, the spread…

Colour gradients

If you need advice or specific colours please contact us,we’re very happy to help.