An image of a person with a purple-and-blue gradient background.


How to use the Gradient tool in Adobe Photoshop.

Add gradients to your designs to create subtle color shifts and layered effects.

What is the Gradient tool in Photoshop?

The Gradient tool is a fast way to create gradual changes of color and light across an image. You can use different types of gradients to blend with or overlay other images to create cool backdrops for logo designs, poster art, stylized profile photos, and more. Gradients can help draw focus to a point in your image by creating a glint of light or color that gradually fades into shadow. 

An image of a person with a purple-and-blue linear gradient.

Explore every shape of gradient.

The standard linear gradient moves gradually in a straight line from the point at which you click your mouse to wherever you drag and unclick it. In addition to the linear gradient, there are four other types of gradients in Photoshop. You can use them to make subtle changes or to create a surreal photomontage.

A photo of a person standing outdoors with a blue-and-purple radial gradient.

Radial gradients.

Form a circular pattern from starting point to end point, so the gradient fades or intensifies the farther you get from the center.

A photo of a person with a purple-and-blue angular gradient.

Angular gradients.

Create a visible angle as the gradient grows darker or lighter in a counterclockwise sweep around the starting point.

A photo of a person leaning against a wall with a purple-and-blue reflected gradient.

Reflected gradients.

Achieve a mirrored gradient effect by creating linear gradients on either side of the starting point.

A photo of a person with a purple-and-blue diamond gradient.

Diamond gradients.

The color or shade changes from the middle out to four corners in a diamond or pyramid pattern.

Start with Photoshop gradient presets.

Take advantage of many free gradient presets — from basic colors to clouds to iridescents — in the Gradients panel.

Discover all of the gradient presets.

Just click Window › Gradients in the top menu to open the Gradients panel. Then click the flyout menu in the top right corner and select Legacy Gradients to access many more useful presets.

Download even more free gradient presets.

Add rich color dimension to your compositions with these free gradient presets from a professional visual artist and graphic designer.

Make a custom gradient layer in Photoshop.

1. Choose where you want to create the gradient.

If you want the gradient to cover the whole canvas, create a new layer by clicking New › Layer in the top menu. If you want your gradient in the background, move the layer below the layers you want to show up in front of it.

2. Select the Gradient tool.

Click the Gradient icon (a rectangle with a gray gradient inside) in the toolbar or press G. You can also find it by clicking and holding the Paint Bucket tool to expand the tool menu.

3. Select the gradient shape and color.

In the options bar, choose from linear, radial, angular, reflected, and diamond. You can pick the colors of your gradient with the color picker in the toolbar, choose colors from your own swatches, or choose presets.

4. Find presets or make adjustments in the Gradient Editor.

Click the gradient icon on the top left of Photoshop to open the Gradient Editor dialog box. Choose presets and customize them or fine-tune your own gradient. If you’d like layers underneath it to show through in certain areas, move the opacity stops at the top of the color ribbon and reduce the opacity percentage in the box below it. Transparency will appear as a checkerboard pattern showing through the colors in the ribbon. You can also move the color stops on the bottom of the ribbon to change how the gradient colors will appear.

5. Make adjustments in the options bar.

Decide how you want your gradient to blend with the rest of your image. In the options bar at the top of the app, choose a blending mode, the opacity percentage of your gradient, and other options. Reverse the order of colors in the gradient fill by checking Reverse. Create a smoother blend by checking Dither. To use a transparency mask for the gradient fill, select Transparency. Experiment with these and the Method settings to see how they look.

6. Draw a line.

Click and hold to set the starting point of your gradient, moving the mouse in the direction you want the gradient to flow, then release the mouse. Longer lines will create more gradual transitions, while shorter lines will cause more abrupt changes between colors and shades.

7. Save your gradient to reuse it.

If you’ve created a gradient you like, you can save it to use later. Just type a name for your gradient into the Name box, then click the New button to add it to the Presets folder or drag the gradient to a different folder. If you want to create a brand-new group, right-click anywhere on the list of presets and select New Gradient Group.

Add a gradient to a shape in Photoshop.

Follow these steps to create a gradient inside of a shape without altering the background.

Layers panel superimposed on an image of a white ellipse layer on a purple-and-blue gradient background.

1. Select or create the area you want to fill.

Use the Layers panel to make sure you’re on the right layer. To create a new shape, first create a new layer. Then use shape tools to draw your own shape. 

Gradient icon superimposed on an image of a white ellipse layer on a purple-and-blue gradient background.

2. Open the Gradient tool.

Click the Gradient icon in the toolbar or press G.

Linear Gradient settings superimposed on an image of an ellipse shape filled with a purple-and-blue gradient, layered on a purple-and-blue gradient background.

3. Choose your gradient color and style.

Follow steps 3–7 above to create a gradient inside the shape.

Adobe Photoshop

Do more with Adobe Photoshop.

Experiment with gradient tutorials.

Follow step-by-step instructions for adding these color effects to your images.

An example of a colorful gradient added to a photo silhouette.

Apply color to a high-contrast photo.

Learn how to create an artistic color design with a photo silhouette and gradient overlay. 

A photo of a person's wrist and hand that has been edited using a gradient map.

Transform photos with custom color effects.

Learn how to install and use these six free gradient maps with your own images.

Find the Creative Cloud plan that's right for you.

Adobe Photoshop Single App

Get Photoshop on desktop and iPad as part of Creative Cloud.
Learn more

Creative Cloud All Apps


Get 20+ Creative Cloud apps, including Photoshop on desktop and iPad.
See what's included | Learn more

Students and teachers


Save over 60% on Creative Cloud All Apps.
See terms | Learn more

Purchase by phone: 800-585-0774