How to Use the Gradient Tool in Photoshop

The gradient tool is one of the most useful in the Photoshop arsenal, and a basic understanding of it will greatly improve the quality of your work and the speed with which you do it. This tutorial will give you a quick run-through of some of its features.

First, we need to open Photoshop. Then go to File, and then click New. A new dialogue box will pop up, giving you the chance to type in the parameters for your document, including size, resolution, and type. Leave most of this in the defaults. The resolution depends on what you are using it for, but since we are just practicing, we’ll leave this at 72. You can set the image size to whatever you like, but I’ll be doing 500 x 500 pixels. Click OK.

Now go to the toolbar on the right and select the gradient tool. Make sure, as shown in image 1, that it is set to linear gradient. Now go back down to the toolbar and select the foreground color, as shown in image 2.

In the color panel that pops up now, you can change the foreground color to whatever you think would work for your image. I’m going with green. But keep in mind that this is only one-half of your overall color and that it will be blended into the next color you pick below. Click OK. Now go back down to the toolbar to select the background color.

You can use the little slider to change to overall color and then click within the panel to select the particular shade you want. Here I’m doing red. Once you’ve made your pick, then just click “OK”.

Now, as shown in image 3, go to the top and make sure that the gradient type is set to the first one presented, which should be the basic green/red gradient. Obviously, there are many other options available to you here, and as you do this tutorial, you might want to use the history panel to back out of one type and experiment with another. For now, we’ll just go with this.

Now, with the gradient tool still selected, just click and drag across the canvas. You will notice when you do this that Photoshop always starts the gradient with the foreground color you picked, and always ends it with the background color.

You end up with a smooth shift from one color to the next across the image. This tool has a wide variety of uses. You could use it to create great backgrounds. Or you might use it when making cool looking buttons and such for a website.