photoshop creative

How to illustrate with gradients in Photoshop, part 2

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Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
December 31, 2013

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


Set the Gradient tool Opacity to 100%, untick Reverse and switch your foreground and background colours around. Repeat the steps for layer ‘Dress Section 1’, but stop before using the Gradient tool; instead, double-click in the Gradient Swatch box to open the full Gradient editor. Select the Foreground to Transparent preset, with Gradient Type set to Solid and Smoothness to 100%.


Have a go at creating new opacity stops using the editor, and experiment with moving the sliders along the colour bar. Set the left-hand opacity stop to an Opacity of 50%, and move one opacity stop to a position of 80% with Opacity at 20%. Click OK. Drag the Gradient tool across the selection as before.


Set foreground to #ffeecc, background to #ddbb88, pick the Linear gradient and re-open the Gradient editor. Select the Foreground To Background preset, and this time use the bottom arrow sliders, the colour stops, to create a new colour stop halfway across the colour bar. Make the centre colour stop the background colour, and the original stops at either end the foreground colour.


Select the Body section from the Template layer and add the gradient by dragging the tool horizontally across; the darker centre will provide a shadow for the paler arm. For the face and right arm, reset the tool to a basic foreground/background Radial gradient without opacity/colour stops, and fill sections with the lighter foreground colour nearer the top.


Fill the left arm and blush sections with solid colour – the arm with the current background shade, and the blush with a soft pink. Now select the ‘Hair Template Section’, create a new layer at the top of the group and open the Gradient editor. Create one new colour stop to the far left, #ee9966, and one to the right, #991111.


Now make a new colour stop of #cc4422 at a Location of 30%, and drag the Gradient tool down the selection from fringe to ends. Make the background, and all layers except the figure gradient fills, invisible. Use the Magic Wand tool to select around the figure (Sample All Layers option), and create a new layer behind all the figure layers.


Fill the selection with pale cream, and use the Gaussian Blur filter to soften. Hide the Highlight layer and select around the figure; invert the selection and clear the colour from inside the highlight. Make the highlight and Landscape layer group visible again. Duplicate the eyelash layers from the Template Outline group and place at the top of the image.



For stars, add a new layer above the Gradient layer. Open ‘Star Brush.jpg’ go to Edit>Define Brush Preset. Hit OK. Select the Star brush and in the Brushes palette set: Brush Size: 80px, Spacing: 500px, Size Jitter: 100%, Angle Jitter: 100%, Scattering: 1000%. Change foreground colour to cream; now drag the brush across your image to add stars.


Layering textures over your image adds richness and depth to your gradient fills. Using the Magic Wand tool with a Tolerance of 30 and Sample All Layers checked, select the three Golden Dress sections. Open the file ‘Vintage wallpaper.jpg’ from the CD, drag the selection into the wallpaper image, copy it and paste the selection back into our tutorial image. Repeat the step with the Hair section and ‘Vintage copper texture.jpg’ resource image. Change the Opacity of both texture layers to 20%.