- Panel menu (A) - This panel displays common types of gradients. Note that these gradients are not necessarily the colors that are displayed, but rather the pattern that's displayed.
- Opacity stop (B) - The opacity stop determines the level of transparency. Note that there is one opacity stop for each color. To adjust the opacity, move the opacity stop to the left or right.
- Color stop (C) - The color stop determines the color of the gradient. To select a starting color, click the left color stop under the gradient bar. When you do, the triangle above it will turn black to indicate that the color is being edited. Follow the same procedure to change the other colors of the gradient, being sure to use the appropriate color stop.
- Stop values (D) - The stop values serve the same function as the opacity and color stops, except in this case, you can enter a number for the opacity and location of the opacity stop and select a color from a palette and enter a number for the location of color stops.
- Midpoint (E) - The midpoint is the location at which the gradient has an even mix of the two colors. To adjust its location, drag the diamond below the gradient bar to the left or right. Alternatively, you can click on the diamond and enter a location value.
- Reverse, which reverses the order of the colors of the gradient.
- Dither, which adjusts the smoothness of the transition between colors in the gradient.
- Transparency, which controls how the opacity from the gradient is applied.
Photo by trumzz via iStock
Photoshop's gradient tool is simple to understand in that it creates a gradual blend of colors.
That is, where the paint bucket tool applies the same color to the entire selection, the gradient tool applies multiple colors that transition from one to the next.
However, even though it's easy to understand what the gradient tool is, it's a little more complicated to understand how to use it in Photoshop.
That's where this tutorial comes in.
Photoshop Gradient Tool: How to Make a Gradient in Photoshop
First things first, we need to explore how to make a gradient in Photoshop.
In the video below, Chris' Tutorials offers a deep dive into gradients and how to use them.
The video starts with how to use a gradient and provides an overview of the different types of gradients at your disposal in Photoshop. This includes a discussion of where to find the gradient tool in the Photoshop toolbox and how to make adjustments to gradient features like opacity.
From there, Chris demonstrates how to use transparency in gradients, explains how to edit and create new gradients, and shows you how to apply gradients to selected areas.
For me, the most confusing aspect about gradients are the different types, which are discussed in the next section, and how to use the gradient editor.
As you can see above, the gradient editor includes a variety of tools that can be a little confusing for novice Photoshoppers. Here's a breakdown of what each tool does, according to Adobe:
Different Types of Gradients in Photoshop
One of the best features of the gradient tool is that there are so many different types of gradients that you can use. As explained in this tutorial by Adobe, this includes the following:
Linear gradient, which transition from one color to the next in a straight line:
Radial gradient, which transition from one color to the next from the center of a circle outward:
Angular gradients, which transition in a counterclockwise fashion around the starting point:
Reflected gradients, which transition outward from a starting point in the center for a mirrorlike effect:
Diamond gradients, which transition outward from a starting point in the center in the shape of a diamond:
Photoshop Gradient Tool Summarized
In addition to the features discussed above, the Photoshop gradient tool has other customization options that allow you to create a gradient to meet your specific needs.
Shown above, you can see a long list of blending modes, each of which offers a unique way for the gradient to interact with the layers below it.
Just to the right of that, you can see an opacity slider, which determines the transparency of the gradient. Moving the slider to the left increases transparency and reveals more of the layers below the gradient.
Moving again to the right are three checkboxes:
The gradient tool also has a noise gradient option, shown above.
The noise gradient is created by selecting colors from a range you specify, and then displaying them randomly.
In the examples above, you can see how changing the Roughness (which controls how gradual the transitions are between colors) results in vastly different-looking gradients.
With that, you have a solid introduction to using gradients in Photoshop. Be sure to watch the complete video at the beginning of this article to get familiar with the ins and outs of the Photoshop gradient tool.