photoshop creative

How to illustrate with gradients in Photoshop, part 1

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
December 29, 2013

Learn how to use Photoshop’s powerful Gradient tool to add beautiful colour blends and subtle effects to artwork

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Open up ‘Gradients Tutorial.psd’. Make the layer group Figure Template Outline invisible, and create a new layer group immediately above the background layer. Name it ‘Landscape,’ and create a new layer within it called ‘Gradient.’


In the Color picker, set the foreground colour to a deep peach, eg #ffbb99, and the background to pale pink, eg #ffeedd. Select the Gradient tool from the Tools palette, click the arrow next to the swatch (the Gradient picker) and select the option to the far left of the drop-down sample box, a basic foreground-to-background blend.


In the Gradients toolbar, select the Radial Gradient box and ensure the following options are selected: Mode: Normal, Opacity: 100%, Reverse: No, Dither: Yes, Transparency: Yes. Now click in the bottom right-hand corner of the image, and drag the tool up to the top left in a diagonal line. Release the tool. Our first gradient has been created!


Create a layer called ‘Golden Gradient’. Change the foreground colour to #eedd77, and in the Gradient tool options use the Gradient picker to select Foreground to Transparent. Change the Gradient Opacity to 25%, and drag the tool from the top to halfway down the image. Repeat, this time dragging the tool down half as far.


Create a new layer called ‘Landscape,’ change the Layer Opacity to 35% and select the Polygonal Lasso tool. Click and drag the tool horizontally across the image, about 2 or 3cm from the bottom then right to the edges of the image to create a selection. Fill the selection with a bright red background colour to form ‘hills.’


Now make the image’s original layer group, Figure Template Outline, visible again. Select the bottom layer, named ‘Dress Section 6,’ and go to Select>All. Pick the Magic Wand tool with these settings: Subtract From Selection, Anti-alias: Yes, Contiguous: Yes, Sample All Layers: No. Click in the main part of the image to isolate the area we want to fill.


Change the background colour to #ffeeaa; your foreground should still be dark gold. Pick the Gradient tool, with options set to Radial Gradient and 100% Opacity, this time ticking the Reverse box. Create a new layer group – containing a new layer – above the Template group, and click and drag the Gradient tool diagonally across your selection, top right to bottom left.


Repeat the steps above for the Template ‘Dress Section’ layers 5 and 2, with each separate coloured layer in your new layer group. Make your background colour #559988 and foreground #99ccbb, before repeating the same steps for Dress Sections 3 and 4 and the ‘Dress Strap’. For section 3, make the Gradient Fill Opacity 50%, and for section 4, 60%.