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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Photoshop
Design

How to Make Gradients in Photoshop (and More!)

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to create a gradient in Photoshop, as well as how to load and save preset gradients in Photoshop.

A gradient is a gradual blend of two or more colors (or different tints of the same color). Common uses for gradients include adding light/shadow effects, adding volume to objects, and creating reflective surfaces such as metallic materials and gold. Other very popular uses for color gradients include creating abstract backgrounds, adding color overlays, and emphasizing brand identity. Even a subtle gradient can go a long way.

Gradient tools are usually displayed as a gradient bar with a series of color stops. A stop is a point where the gradient changes from one color to the next. Below you can see an example of a black and white color stop. You can move the color stops to change the look of your gradient.

Moving color stops for sharper gradients

Multiple stops can also be added to increase the number of colors used in a gradient.

Adding more colors

Gradient tools often allow you to choose from different types of gradients. This usually includes:

  1. Linear
  2. Radial
  3. Angular
  4. Reflected
  5. Diamond

For this tutorial, we will be focusing mainly on linear gradients.

Different types of gradients

1. How to Make a Gradient in Photoshop

Step 1

Press on the keyboard or select the Gradient Tool from the toolbar. If it is not visible, click and hold the Paint Bucket Tool to access it. 

Select the Gradient Tool

Step 2

Click inside the gradient bar which will appear on the top left (this will only appear if the Gradient Tool has been selected).

Select the Gradient Bar

Step 3

This will open the Gradient Editor window. Here you will be able to select your presets, gradient type, and colors. Any preset you select will be automatically applied to the gradient bar at the bottom. 

Photoshop Gradient Editor

Step 4

To define the gradient colors, click on one of the color stops under the gradient bar. The triangle above the stop should turn black, which indicates the color is being edited.

Select the color stop at the bottom

Step 5

To choose the color, either double-click on the color stop or click on the color swatch below. Once you've chosen a color, click OK.

Select a new color for color stop

Step 6

Define an ending color by clicking on the color stop on the right of the bar.

Define a new ending color

Step 7

Once the colors have been defined, you can choose to adjust the location of the starting point and/or the end point. This will change the look and smoothness of the gradient. To do this, click and drag the color stop left or right until you are happy with the result.

Adjust location of color stops

Step 8

To edit the look of the gradient further, you can adjust the location of the midpoint (represented by the diamond icon). This is where the gradient displays an even mix of both the starting and ending colors. To do this, simply drag the diamond left or right.

Adjust the midpoint of the gradient

Step 9

You can also add extra colors to your gradient. To do this, click below the gradient bar to create another color stop. Choose a color as you did previously and use the mouse to click and drag a location for the color stop. Repeat this technique to create more color stops.

Add new colors to the gradient

Step 10

To delete color stops, simply click and drag the stop down until it disappears. You can also press delete once the color stop has been selected.

Remove color stops from gradient

Step 11

Edit the Smoothness value by dragging the slider or entering a value, to control the gradual transitions between two color bands. 

Adjust smoothness of gradient

Step 12

You can also edit the opacity of the gradient by selecting the stops above the gradient bar and adjusting the Opacity slider.

The opacity of a color is represented by a checkered pattern when the value is below 100%.

Adjust opacity of gradient

2. How to Save Preset Gradients in Photoshop

Step 1

Once you are happy with the way your gradient looks, select the Name box and enter a name for your gradient preset. 

Change the name

Step 2

Click on the New button to add your new gradient to the preset menu.

Select the New button

Step 3

Once you have clicked the New button, the gradient should automatically appear at the end of the preset menu.

New gradient appears in the presets

Step 4

Click on the Save button and choose a location for the gradient library. Enter a file name and click Save. This will save your current gradient library in the default location for Photoshop, although you can specify a new location if you wish.

Select the save button to save presets

3. How to Load Preset Gradients in Photoshop

Step 1

Click on the small cog button near the top right of the gradient editor. This will bring up a dropdown menu. Select Reset Gradients to reset the gradient presets and remove your new gradient.

Reset gradients

Step 2

To load the previous gradient library, click on the Load button and select the library file that you created. This will load the saved gradient library.

Select the load button

Step 3

You can also load Photoshop's preset gradients such as the ones specifically created for metals. To access this, click on the small cog icon on the top right of the gradient editor. Then choose Metals from the menu and click OK.

You can then use these presets to create metallic gradients such as gold, iron, silver, or aluminium. You can also choose to modify and adjust these gradients to your liking, using the steps outlined above.

Select the metals preset

Awesome! You're Finished!

Congratulations! You have successfully completed this tutorial. I hope you found this tutorial helpful and that you've learned many new tips and tricks that you can use for your future illustrations and designs. See you next time!

Creating Gradients

Learn More Gradient Skills!

Now that you have learnt the basics for creating, saving and loading gradients, check out the tutorials below! Expand your expertise by going through these in-depth guides. Happy designing!

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