119. Fill an Area with a Gradient
Before You Begin
110 About the Toolbox
118 Fill an Area with a Pattern
183 Add a Text Caption or Label
A gradient is a transition from one color to anotheroften between several colors. You can use a gradient as a backdrop for an image or to fill a frame around an image.
The simplest gradient is a selection that gradually fades in linear fashion from the foreground color to the background color. More complex gradients make the transition outward from the center, at angles, and across multiple colors.
There are many preset gradients you can choose from with the Gradient tool. If you don't find what you want, click the Edit button on the Options bar to create your own gradient.
Gradient A gradual transition between two colors, sometimes by way of a third (or more) color.
Select Gradient Tool
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to change. To put the gradient on a new layer, create one by clicking the Create a new layer button on the Layers palette. To limit the gradient to a specific area, make a selection now.
Because a lot of gradients use the foreground and background colors, set the foreground and background colors to the colors you want to use, as explained in 114 Select a Color to Work With. Then click the Gradient tool on the Toolbox.
Select a Gradient
On the Options bar, open the Gradient Picker drop-down list and select a gradient. To change to a different set of gradient styles, click the right arrow on the palette and choose a gradient set from those listed at the bottom of the menu that appears.
Change Gradient Type
Make a selection from one of the five gradient styles displayed on the Options bar. The gradient styles define how the gradient will fill the area you select:
Linear applies a straight-line gradient from one color to the next.
Radial applies the gradient outward in all directions from the center of the selected area.
Angle applies the gradient in a 360° sweep starting at a designated angle, resulting in an effect that looks like an old air traffic control radar.
Reflected applies the gradient in bands on either side of the center of the selected area.
Diamond applies the gradient in a diamond shape, radiating from the point where you click to begin the gradient.
Set Other Options
Set the Mode and Opacity as desired. You can reverse the order of the colors in the gradient by enabling the Reverse option. To reduce a possible banding effect where colors blend when the gradient is printed, enable the Dither option. To retain transparent areas of a gradient, enable the Transparency option. If you turn this option off, then the transparent areas are filled with the colors from the gradient.
When you drag to create the gradient, keep in mind that gradient bands often appear in the opposite direction. For example, if you drag from upper-left to lower-right to create a Linear gradient, the bands appear in diagonals that bend from the lower-left to the upper-right. The color in the gradient bands, however, changes as it moves from upper-left to lower-right.
Apply the Gradient
Click and drag across the area you want to fill with the gradient in the direction you want the gradient to transition. For example, drag from the upper-left corner of the layer to its lower-right corner to have the gradient transition in that direction. The gradient is applied to the selection.
View the Result
After you're satisfied with the gradient, make any other changes you want and save the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
To create a gradient with an angle that's an exact multiple of 45 degrees, press and hold Shift as you drag to create the gradient.
In this example, I used the Elliptical Marquee tool to drag an oval-shaped selection over the picture. Then I applied the gradient I created using some colors already in the picture. I then used this gradient-filled oval as the background for a text block. (See 183 Add a Text Caption or Label.)