How to work with the Gradient Editor

In the last lesson, we learned how to draw gradients using the Gradient tool. We also looked at how to use the gradient palette and select the desired gradient from the set of proposed gradients. However, no matter how many gradients are included in Photoshop, it is more useful (and always more fun) to be able to create your own gradient!

In this lesson, we will learn how to create, edit, and save our own gradients using the Gradient Editor. Next, you will see that the Gradient Editor allows you not only to select the desired gradient from ready-made samples (as well as the Gradient Palette), but also to edit the gradients by selecting other colors, adding new ones, changing their order and removing unnecessary colors. We can add transparency to the gradient and even adjust the color transition! And finally, we can save our gradient as a finished sample, which will allow us to quickly select it in further work, if necessary!

In the last lesson, we looked at the basics of drawing gradients, so we will devote today’s lesson to the study of the Gradient Editor. If you still do not know how to use the tool “Gradient” (Gradient Tool) or how to draw gradients, I advise you to study the last lesson on drawing gradients. In this tutorial, I’ll work in the Photoshop CC version, but Photoshop CS6 will also work. So let’s get started!

Create a new document

Let’s start the lesson by creating a new document. For this, I will go to the section “File” (File) in the menu bar at the top of the screen and select the item “New” (New):

Choose File> New (File> New)

As a result, a dialog box will open. “New” (New). Since we are going to study the Gradient Editor itself, the file size is not important for us. But if you work with me, let’s create a file of the same size as last time: Width (Width) 1200 pixels, Height (Height) 800 pixels. Parameter “Resolution” (Resolution) I will leave the default unchanged – 72 pixels per inch (pixels / inch), and the parameter “Background Content” (Background Contents) – “White” (White). I’ll click OK when I finish entering the data to close the dialog box, and a new document appears on the screen with a white background:

Create a new file size 1200×800 px

Select the Gradient tool.

After creating a new document, I will choose a tool “Gradient” (Gradient Tool) on the toolbar:

Select the Gradient tool.

Open the Gradient Editor.

As we learned from the last lesson, after activating the Gradient tool, there are two ways to select a gradient. We can select it from the samples of ready-made gradients in the Gradient Palette or create and edit our own gradient using the Gradient Editor. To open the Gradient Editor, click directly on the gradient preview window in the settings panel. If you click on the small arrow on the right side of the viewing window, you will open the Gradient Palette, which we studied earlier. However, this time we need the Gradient Editor, so click on the window itself:

Click on the gradient preview window on the settings panel

As a result of this action will open Gradient editor (Gradient Editor). At first, it may look a little scary for you, but soon we will see that in reality it is very easy to work in it:

Gradient editor

Gradient Patterns Area

In the process of using the Gradient Editor, two stages can be distinguished. In fact, we do not create a gradient from scratch. Instead, we first select a sample of the finished gradient, which will serve as our starting point. Then we edit the colors of the sample to create our own gradient.

The gradient editor is divided into two main sections: at the top there is an area of ​​ready-made gradient samples (Sets), at the bottom is the gradient editing section. The area of ​​finished samples works in the Gradient Editor in the same way as in the Gradient Palette, displaying thumbnails of all ready-made gradient samples. To select the desired gradient, simply click on its thumbnail. The name of the gradient you clicked on will appear below the finished sample area:

Click on the thumbnail to select the desired gradient from the finished samples.

Initially, we were given a limited number of ready-made gradient samples, however, other sets of samples are included in Photoshop, which we can load into the Gradient Editor, as well as in the gradient palette. To see a list of additional sets, click on the small gear icon:

Click on the gear icon

At the end of the menu list that appears on the screen, you will see other sets of gradients, each of which has a specific theme, for example, “Harmonized colors” (Color Harmonies), Metallic (Metals), “Pastel” (Pastels), etc. To select a set, click on its name. In my case, I will choose a set Harmonized colors 1 (Color Harmonies 1):

Choose a set of “harmonized colors 1”

The program will ask you whether it is necessary to replace the current gradients with new ones from the set. If you press the button “Add” (Append), instead of replacing gradients, the program will add new gradients to existing ones. I like it when I have order on the screen and there are no clutter of icons, so I’ll click OK to replace the gradients, especially to restore the original ones (as we will find out later):

Click OK to replace the current default gradients with new ones from the set.

And now we see that instead of the original gradients, new gradients from the set have appeared:

Gradients from the Harmonized Color 1 set

To restore the original default gradients, again click on the gear icon:

Click on the gear icon

Then from the menu that appears, select the command “Restore Gradients” (Reset Gradients):

Select the command “Restore Gradients”

Photoshop will ask you if you need to replace the current gradients with default gradients. Click OK:

Click OK to restore default gradients.

And now we can again see the source gradients:

Original gradients have been restored.

Editing area

If the purpose of the Gradient Editor is to create your own gradients, then why does he need a lot of ready-made gradient patterns that we can also select in the Gradient Palette? As I mentioned earlier, in reality, we are not creating gradients from scratch, instead we select one of the ready-made gradient swatches and then start editing its colors.

The reason we are given access to the gradient patterns in the Editor is that from the finished patterns we can choose something similar to the one we need to create. Thus, it will take less effort. For example, if I need to create a gradient with a transition between three colors, then I can choose a ready-made pattern that already includes three colors. Perhaps the colors will not be the same, but at least there will already be three of them.

Also, if we create a gradient with a transition from a solid color to a transparent one, we can save ourselves time by choosing to begin with a ready-made gradient pattern with a transition to a transparent color.

Or if the gradient will use, for example, pastel colors, it may be easier to first load the set “Pastel” (Pastels) and choose from there a finished pattern with matching colors.

At least this is one of the options. However, in fact, to create any gradient using the Gradient Editor is so easy that often you will just start by choosing one of the basic gradients. “Black White” (Black, White). I will select it by clicking on the corresponding thumbnail (the third from the left in the top row):

Select the gradient “Black, white”

All parameters and editing tools for gradients are located at the bottom of the Gradient Editor. As soon as you select the desired gradient pattern, it will appear on your gradient scale, which is our working area. This is where we will “build” our gradient. In my case, since I chose a black and white gradient, the scale began to reflect the transition from black on the left to white on the right:

The selected gradient appeared on the gradient preview scale.

Gradient Type

If instead of a gradient with a smooth transition, you see a row of multicolored lines on the gradient scale, then this means that “Gradient Type” (Gradient Type) is not set to “Continuous” (Solid), and on “Noise” (Noise). We will consider such gradients in a separate lesson, because they not only look different, but the stages of their creation are also different. In general, whenever you want to create a regular gradient with a smooth transition between two colors, you need to set the type of gradient “Continuous” (Solid).

Make sure that the Continuous type is selected as the gradient type.

Gradient Color Swap

If you look below the gradient scale, you will see color control points (color swatches in the form of small squares with arrows pointing to the gradient above them). There is one point of color for each color in the gradient. Since I chose a black and white gradient, it has two points of color: one filled with black color on the left and the other filled with white on the right. These points of color indicate to Photoshop two important points – which colors to use in the gradient and how to place them:

Color checkpoints under each edge of the gradient

To change the current color, first click on the corresponding control point to select it. Next, click on the color sample in the “Control points»(Stops) at the bottom of the Gradient Editor to select a different color. For example, let’s say I want to change the color in my gradient from black to red. To do this, I will click on the black dot of the color:

Click on the point of the color that you want to change.

Having selected a point, I will click on the color pattern.

Click on the pattern to change the color.

As a result, will open Color palette (Color Picker). I will select dark red as the new color, and then click OK to exit the Palette:

Choose color from the Color Picker.

After that, my original black and white gradient will turn into a red and white gradient:

The black color in my gradient has changed to red.

I will do the same with a different color, changing it from white to yellow. But this time, I will use a faster way to change colors. Instead of clicking on a point and selecting it, and then clicking on a color pattern, all I need is to double-click on the point:

Double click on the white color checkpoint

Double-clicking the mouse button will instantly open the Color Picker. I will select yellow and then click OK to close the Palette:

Change the white color in the gradient to yellow

Thus, after a few clicks, our original black and white gradient turned into a new red-yellow gradient:

New gradient colors

Adjust midpoint color

If you look at the scale between the two color control points, you will see a small diamond-shaped icon. This is the icon of the middle point of the color, which marks the middle of the transition between colors (the place where the two colors are mixed together). If you do not see the midpoint icon, click on any of the color control points and it will appear.

Midpoint Color Icon

We can change the position of the midpoint by moving the icon closer to one or another color. For example, I will move the middle point towards the left edge so that it gets closer to the red point of color. Notice what happens with the gradient. Shifting the middle point to the left, I shortened the transition area between the red point of color and the middle point and extended the transition between the middle point and the yellow point of color:

Adjust the transition area by moving the midpoint of the color.

Position parameter

As you move the midpoint color icon parameter “Position” (Location) below the gradient scale changes, reflecting in percent the exact place where the middle point is between two colors. By default, the location value of the midpoint is 50% (exactly midway between the colors), but after moving the midpoint to the left, the location value changes to 25%. In other words, the transition between the color of the gradient on the left and the midpoint now takes up a quarter of the entire length of the gradient, and the transition between the midpoint and the color of the gradient on the right is three quarters of the entire length:

The current position of the midpoint of the color

We have already discussed how you can change the position of the middle point of a color by moving its icon, but we can also change its location by entering specific values ​​in the parameter data entry box. “Position” (Location). If I want, for example, to move the midpoint from the “1/4” mark to the “3/4” mark, then I can do this by changing the value of the Position parameter from 25% to 75%:

Manually enter the new value of the parameter “Position”

And now we can see that the midpoint has moved to the 75% mark, simultaneously extending the distance between the red point of color and the midpoint and reducing the distance between the midpoint and yellow point of color:

New midpoint color

I will return the middle point back to its original position in silence by setting the value of the parameter “Position” (Location) 50%:

The middle point is back in the middle of the gradient.

Adding color gradient

In order to add new colors to the gradient, all you need is to click under the gradient on the place where you should add a new color. Photoshop will add a new color reference point to this position. For example, to add a third color between the two source colors, I will click in the right place under the gradient (note that I click under the midpoint icon, not on it):

Click in the appropriate place to add the third color.

As a result, a new color reference point will appear in this place. To change its color, double click on it with the mouse button:

Double click on the new color pattern.

Then in the appeared Color Picker, select the desired color. In my case, I will choose blue:

Choose a third color for the gradient.

Next, I click OK to close the Color Picker, and my two-color gradient is converted to tricolor. Not so bad, especially considering that we initially chose a black and white gradient:

The third color has been added

Moving colors in the gradient

We can not only add colors to the gradient, but also move them and even change the order in which they appear. There are several ways to move colors. The first is to simply click on the color control point and move it to the left or right. In my case, I clicked on the blue dot of the color in the center and moved it closer to the yellow dot of the color. As in the case of moving the midpoint, the value of the parameter “Position” (Location) will change and display the exact location of the point as a percentage:

Move the color by moving its control point along the gradient

The second way to move a color is to click on its control point to select a color, and then enter specific values ​​into the data entry box of the “Position” parameter. I’ll click on the yellow point of the color to select it. Please note that her current position is 100%:

Select the yellow color point.

I will change the location of the point by entering a value of 50%, which will cause the yellow point to move to the middle of the gradient:

Move the color by entering the new values ​​of the “Position”

Then I click on the blue dot to select it:

Choosing a blue dot color

I will move it to the end of the right edge, where previously there was a yellow dot of color, and thus effectively interchange the two gradient colors:

Move the blue point of the color to the end of the right edge of the gradient

Removing color

To remove a color from a gradient, click its control point to select it, then start moving the point down below the gradient scale until it disappears. I will remove the blue color by clicking on its control point to select:

Choosing a blue color reference point

I will move it down behind the gradient scale, and we will see that the blue color from the gradient has disappeared, while the red and yellow colors have remained. When editing gradients, Photoshop allows us to undo a single action, so if you deleted the desired color by mistake, just press Ctrl + Z (Win) / Command + Z (Mac) to undo the last action and restore the color:

Move the color control point down to remove it.

Copy existing color

Another way to add color to a gradient is to create a copy of an existing color. To do this, you need to press and hold the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key as you select the color control point and move it to the right or left. Thus, instead of moving the source point, you move a copy of the point, which can later be placed on your gradient in the right place.

Suppose I really want to create a gradient with the transition from red to yellow and again to red. I already have a red color on the left side of the gradient. Instead of adding another color to the gradient and manually selecting the same shade of red in the Color Picker, I’ll just hold down the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key, then click on the red dot and move it to the right, creating an exact copy :

Click on a color point and move it while pressing Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) to create a copy

Next, I will move the point to the right edge of the gradient and thus create a gradient with the transition from red to yellow and back to red:

Making copies of color dots makes it easy to add the same colors to different parts of the gradient.

Adding transparency

If you look above the gradient scale, you will see icons that look like additional dots of color. In reality, these are control points for opacity. They allow us to adjust the opacity of various parts of the gradient. In the screenshot below, you can see one opacity checkpoint at each end of the gradient:

Opacity Checkpoints

Some of the finished gradient samples already contain transparency, some are not, but we can easily add it to the gradient as needed. For example, if I want my gradient to have a transition from a solid color on the left to completely transparent on the right, then I can achieve this by clicking on the opacity point located above the gradient scale on the right side. As a result, the transparency options in the section will become active. “Checkpoints” (Stops) under the gradient. Note that the current value of the parameter “Opacity” (Opacity) 100%, and this means that in this area there is no transparency gradient at all:

Select the opacity checkpoint on the right

In order to add transparency, I will click on the arrow on the right side of the current opacity value and reduce the parameter value by moving the slider to the left. I will reduce the value to 0% to make the right side of the gradient completely transparent. You can also create partial gradient transparency by choosing a value between 0% and 100%.

Notice that the color of the opacity checkpoint has changed from black to white. Black color means that the opacity value is 100%, white – that the opacity value is 0% (fully transparent color). Partial opacity is represented by various shades of gray. Notice also that the gradient scale now has a transition from a solid color on the left to a checkerboard pattern on the right. The chessboard pattern is responsible in the Photoshop program for the transparency image:

Reduce the opacity of the control point on the right to 0%

Moving Opacity Checkpoints

In addition to moving the control points of the color along the gradient scale, we can also move the control points of opacity. For example, what to do if I want to draw a transition to a transparent color from yellow in the middle of the gradient, and not from red on the left side? I can do this in several ways. First, I can simply click on the opacity checkpoint on the left side and drag it to the middle of the gradient so that it is above the yellow color. Thus, the gradient will remain completely opaque to the middle of the scale (to yellow), and only then will the transition to a transparent color in the right side begin:

Move the opacity reference point from the left edge to the center of the gradient

Adding Opacity Checkpoints

Secondly, I can leave two initial opacity points at their original positions and just add a third point above the middle of the gradient scale. For a start, I will return the opacity checkpoint back to its original position on the left side of the gradient by changing the value of the parameter “Position” (Location) from 50% to 0%:

As well as color control points, the opacity control points can be moved by changing the value of the Position parameter.

Next, I click on the gradient scale in the place where I want to add a new point, in my case – in the middle:

Click in the middle of the gradient to add a third opacity point.

Photoshop will add a new point of opacity. Note that the value of the parameter “Opacity” (Opacity) for this point is already equal to 100%, so we do not need to change it. However, I could, if necessary, enter any opacity value from 0% to 100%. Also note that the value of the parameter “Position” (Location) is 50%, but again, if necessary, I could change this value either by moving the point itself or by entering a new value in the “Position” parameter window. You can add as many opacity control points to a gradient as you need to better control the color transition:

Each point of opacity is completely independent of the others.

You can copy existing opacity checkpoints, just as you did with color checkpoints. Just hold down the Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) key while moving the opacity point left or right to create a copy and place it in the right place. Just as with the color checkpoints, you can see the midpoint opacity icon for each set of opacity points. Click on this icon and move it closer to one or another point of opacity to adjust the transition between colors as needed:

Shift the midpoint of opacity to the right

Remove opacity control points

To remove an opacity checkpoint, click on it to select it and then move it up outside the gradient until it disappears. I will remove the opacity point from the right edge by clicking on it and moving it up. Since only this point of the three existing degree opacity (Opacity) was different from 100%, when it was removed, our gradient again became completely opaque:

Remove the opacity checkpoint on the right

Finally, to return the gradient to its original state (although this is not required since the gradient no longer has transparent areas), I will click on the opacity checkpoint in the middle of the gradient and move it to the right:

Move the opacity checkpoint from the middle of the gradient to the right side

Smoothness parameter

The last parameter we need to consider in today’s lesson is the parameter “Smoothness” (Smoothness), which is responsible for the smooth and gradual transition between the primary colors. By default, its value is 100%, and all transitions are distributed as evenly as possible. As its value decreases, additional shadows will appear when switching between colors, which will lead to the appearance of unwanted bands in the gradient. In most cases, it is better to leave the Smoothness parameter equal to 100%:

Smoothness parameter

Preserving gradient as new sample

When you are happy with the look of the resulting gradient, you can save it as a new pattern. To do this, first enter the name of the gradient in the field “Name” (Name). I’ll call my gradient red-yellow-red:

Give the name of the new gradient

Then click on the button. “New” (New):

Click on the button “New”

As a result, Photoshop will add a new gradient to the rest of the samples, giving it its own thumbnail, clicking on which you can choose a new gradient next time:

A new gradient will appear in the region of the finished gradient samples.

When you’re done, click OK to close the Gradient Editor:

Click on the OK button.

And here we are done! We learned how to create, edit and save your own gradients with the Gradient Editor! To learn how to draw gradients, learn the lesson “How to Draw Gradients in Photoshop”!

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