If you’ve ever had to convert a logo or piece of artwork in Adobe Illustrator CS3 from color to grayscale (or even Pantones to CMYK), you’ve undoubtedly seen the “gradients and patterns will not be converted” warning message. The auto-convert function in Illustrator CS3 doesn’t work on gradients. You could go through the trouble of adjusting the gradient manually, but if you have a lot of different gradients, that can be time-consuming. Instead, select all the objects containing gradients (or just hit Command + A to grab everything) and go to the menu bar and select Object>Expand and hit OK. Your gradient is now converted into many objects with different shades of solid colors, rather than a single object with a gradient, so they can easily be converted to grayscale. In most cases, just hitting OK will do the job just fine. But if you find the results not to your liking, you might try adjusting the number of objects created to simulate the gradient at the bottom of the Expand dialog box first. The more objects you create, the smoother the gradient will appear when converted to individual objects. Because you have expanded the gradient to multiple objects, going back and editing the gradient is a royal pain, so be sure to save a copy of the original before you expand it.
What about Illustrator CS4 users?
If you’ve upgraded to Illustrator CS4, rejoice! The ban on gradient conversions has been lifted. We can now convert the colors in gradients to color, grayscale, or RGB by going to the menubar and selecting Edit>Edit Colors and choosing the appropriate option.