View Full Version : Help with Gradients in AI CS5

10-25-2015, 10:11 AM
Hello Comic Pros,

I am trying to put a red gradient on a character's inner monologue narration box, to set it apart from the other word balloons. These narration boxes will appear through out the comic on multiple pages.

Typically, I do things the Scott McCloud way, and have all of my word balloons on one layer, putting a stroke value of everything in the layer, and filling in the balloons/boxes with white. When I try to put a red gradient on the narration boxes specifically, there is no change.

When I create a new layer, and put a gradient on each narration box, the exported JPEG comes out as opaque. This effect is not seen on the AI file, it only becomes noticeable when I export as a JPEG.

Can anyone help please?

Our goal is to try and distribute the comic next year, and I need to be able to letter in a way that can work for both print and digital mediums, as I don't want to close any doors for the project.

Thanks in advance to anyone willing to help me understand the beast that is Adobe Illustrator.


Stewart Vernon
10-25-2015, 11:40 AM
I believe I understand what you are trying to accomplish... but am not sure exactly what you are doing in Illustrator.

Are you changing your normal white balloon to a red gradient fill? OR are you overlaying a second balloon that has a red gradient on top of the white one?

Is your text on the same layer as the white balloons?

When you say "it comes out opaque" I'm not sure what you mean. Are you meaning that you can't read the text in the balloon because the gradient overlays it?

For what it's worth, I'm not sure I work in the same manner as you do... but I would make a red gradient in one of the following ways (depending on my mood):

1. Create my normal white balloon, then change its fill to a red gradient.


2. Create my normal white balloon, then duplicate it in place and change that to a red gradient that also had an opacity gradient to it as well.

Each method has a slightly different look to it. In either case, my text would either have to be in its own layer on top of all the balloon layers OR it would all be on the same layer and I would make sure it was "on top".

Not sure if that helps, depending on how you are working.

10-25-2015, 12:07 PM
Hello Stewart,

Thanks for reaching out...

What I am finding is, when I create a normal white balloon (I use a K black stroke around a white background), and set a red gradient in it, the exported JPEG file (I use to show collaborators) comes out as transparent. The background is visible through the narration box, but the layer of text (which is separate) on top remains solid.

Here is Scott McCloud's video, I use his method: https://youtu.be/nhsqRjBehmw
I found I am unable to use gradients on the same layer as my other balloons, because the stroke and white background set in the appearance pallet seems to trump the gradient settings on individual word balloons within the same layer.

So I created a new layer just for the narration boxes. While in AI, this layer of individually red gradient narration boxes look right, but once exported as JPEGs they look awful (and see through).

Any idea what I am doing wrong?



10-25-2015, 08:40 PM
Possible solutions:

1. Make sure the second color of gradient is a solid color.

2. Have the overprint fill option unchecked/turned off for that object.

Hope this helps.

Stewart Vernon
10-25-2015, 10:27 PM
I'm not as familiar with the way you are doing it. I do some things the "hard" way probably by not using the layers and setting the stroke/fill there... though it means I probably don't run into the problem you are encountering as often since I'm always doing it the hard way! :)

It's possible to do gradients with transparency (actual setting is opacity) so that's a thing to check, making sure your opacity setting is 100% for all the colors in your particular gradient.