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Learning the Power of Gradients

Author: Narnia

Tools Needed

  • Photoshop 7.0.1 or higher


With this tutorial I hope to show you the power of gradients, and how you can use them to create realistic buttons and graphics using only Photoshop and your imagination.


Step 1 - Create a New Document


The first step is to create a new document. Here we will simply use the Photoshop default size.

Step 2 - Create a New Button


Next we will create a new button using the rounded rectangular tool in Photoshop.

As below.


Step 3 - Add a gradient layer.


Next we will add some depth and texture to the button to make it look 3-D. Remember this step is important to do correctly since this is what will make the difference if a button looks great or poorly.


Making sure you have the shape layer selected in the layers palette, go to the layer effects button. And click on the 'Gradient Overlay' option.

Step 4 - Tweaking the gradient settings.


Now we are going to define the gradient that we want to apply to the button. To enter the gradient window click on the circled gradient bar as shown in this step's picture.

This will open this window.


Step 5 - Understanding the Gradient Editor


Now you can use one of the preset gradients in Photoshop, but that's not that fun. So we will create our own.


Looking at the slider on the Gradient Editor window, you can see two sets of box sliders. One at the top and one at the bottom. The top set are the opacity setting for the gradient. That is it defines is the gradient will go from a solid to a transparent effect or remain solid across the gradient.


The second set of sliders are control the colors that you would like to use. By clicking on one of the boxes, you can change the colors use by then clicking on the color box in the 'Stops' section, towards the bottom. (Or by double clicking on the box, directly bring up the color chooser.)


To create a new color or transparency setting, to be included in the gradient, simply click in an area above or below the slider bar where there isn't a box slider. This will create a new box slider.

As below.


Step 6 - Defining a Gradient


Now to define the gradient we want simply pick the colors we want to use. Make sure that you have three color slider boxes and that the darker colors are on the outside, while the little colors are in the center. You can add more colors to create more complex gradient effects, but we will use three to keep things simple.

Remember, the opacity boxes, must be set to 100%/display black.

By the way, to remove a color that you don't want, click on the color slider box and drag it off the slider, this will make it go away.

Step 7 - And you're done!


After setting the gradient up in the gradient editor, you are done. Simply click okay for both the gradient editor window and the Layer Style Windows and you're done! Doesn't it look great!