How to use the Gradient tool in Adobe Photoshop.

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

What is the Gradient tool in Photoshop?

The Gradient tool allows you to create gradual changes of color and light across an image with power and precision. You can use different types of gradients to blend with or overlay other images to create stunning backdrops for logo designs, poster art, stylized 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 from one hue to another.

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

Add gradients instantly.

Apply a gradient to your image or design in a few taps. Just select the Gradient tool from the toolbar and click and drag across your canvas to create a subtle but impactful color shift.

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

Edit with on-canvas controls.

Make edits with on-canvas controls and a live preview. Customize the color, angle, opacity, and spread of the gradient right in your workspace.

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

Preview your work.

Gradients are always added in a new layer so you can edit the look of your design non-destructively. Play with the gradient as much you want without changing the base image at all.

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

Explore every type of gradient.

Choose a linear, radial, angular, reflected, or diamond gradient to get the right look. Gradient types affect the direction and spread of the color blends — easily preview how different types will look in your image or design by clicking on variations in the options bar or Properties panel.

Start with Photoshop gradient presets.

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

Discover all of the gradient presets.

After you add a gradient to your image or design, you can find the Gradient Controls in the Properties panel. Click on the Preset menu to explore all the useful preset options, grouped by color category.

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. Add a gradient layer.

Select the Gradient tool from the toolbar and then click on the gradient type you want to create in the options bar at the top of the app. Click and drag across your canvas to automatically add a gradient to your image in a new layer. To make your gradient transparent so you can see the image below, adjust the opacity in the Properties panel.

2. Adjust the length and direction.

Use the on-canvas Gradient tool to adjust the gradient. The further you drag the handles at the end, the longer the spread of your gradient. Move the handles in any direction to change the direction of the gradient.

3. Adjust and add new colors.

Double click on the handles — the color stops — to open the Color Picker and choose a new color. You can also add new color stops in the Propeties panel. Just click anywhere along the bottom of the Gradient Controls slider to add a new color stop. You can easily remove color stops by clicking and dragging them away from the on-canvas widget.

4. Change the color blend.

To change where the colors meet and blend, click on the diamond-shaped icons to adjust the mid-points between color stops.

5. Apply a preset.

Another way to quickly change the color of your gradient is to click on the Gradient preset menu in the options bar or Properties panel and select a new colorway from those choices, which you can then customize as much as you like.

6. Change the blend mode and more.

In the options bar or Properties panel, 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. Experiment with these and the Method settings to see how they look.

7. Save your gradient to reuse it.

If you’ve created a gradient you like, you can save it to use later. Just click on Save Preset in the Properties panel and type a name for your gradient into the Gradient Name box. Your gradient will be added to the bottom on the Gradient preset dropdown menu. Click and drag to add it to any folder. To create a new group, right click anywhere on the list of presets and select New Gradient Group.

Looking for Classic Gradients? Use the dropdown menu in the options bar to toggle between Gradients and Classic Gradients.

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.

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. Select the shape.

Go to Select > Subject to select the main subject of your image — in this case, the shape. You can also use the Object Selection tool to select items in your image that are not the main subject and apply gradients to them.

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. Apply the gradient.

Follow the steps above to apply a gradient to the selected 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.

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