Revision Date: 27 August 2015

Gradient Tool Gradient Tool

The Gradient Tool allows the drawing gradients in seven shapes and many formats.

Color gradients are rendered as a transition between the Primary and Secondary colors.

The Gradient Tool also supports a transparency mode which can be used to "fade" or "blend" two images together.

Gradient Types

Each gradient type is chosen from the Tool Bar:

Gradient Options Gradient Options

Drawing a Gradient

To draw a gradient, select the Gradient tool and click and drag on the canvas.  The gradient will be drawn as a transition between the Primary and Secondary colors (Color Mode) as the mouse moves.

After the mouse button is released, the gradient can be adjusted by dragging the Control Nubs.  Right-clicking on a nub will swap the roles of the Primary and Secondary colors, effectively reversing the direction of the gradient.

Color Mode

The default type of gradient is a color gradient that affects all color channels and the alpha channel.  The gradient will be drawn such that it fades from the Primary color to the Secondary color. If you use the Right Mouse Button to drag out the gradient, then the roles of the Primary and Secondary colors will be reversed.

Transparency Mode

The special transparency mode is commonly used to fade out part of an image. This can also be quite useful for blending two images together. To access this mode, select it from the Tool Bar:

Transparency Mode Transparency Mode

This type of gradient will only affect the alpha channel of the active layer.  The gradient will fade from the alpha value of the Primary color to the inverse of the alpha value of the Secondary color. Hence it is entirely possible to transition between two states of partial transparency.

If the Right Mouse Button is used the gradient will transition in the opposite direction.

The images below on the left show gradients rendered in the different shapes using Color mode in black and white.  The images on the right show the effect of drawing the same shape gradient in Transparency Mode on the following image:

Original Image Original Image

Note: The checkerboard pattern indicates transparency. It is not part of the image and is not visible outside of's editing environment.

Gradient Examples  


Linear Gradient Color Mode Linear Transparency Transparency Mode

Linear (Reflected)

Linear Gradient Reflected Color Mode Linear Transparency Reflected Transparency Mode


Diamond Gradient Color Mode Diamond Transparency Transparency Mode


Radial Gradient Color Mode Radial Transparency Transparency Mode


Conical Gradient Color Mode Conical Transparency Transparency Mode

Spiral (Clockwise)

Spiral (Clockwise) Color Mode Spiral (Clockwise) Transparency Transparency Mode

Spiral (Anticlockwise)

Spiral (Anticlockwise) Color Mode Spiral (Anticlockwise) Transparency Transparency Mode

Blending Images

To do a "fade" or "blend", place the two images on separate layers, and then use a transparent gradient of any shape on the top layer.

Using the two example images from the Layers and Blend Modes sections, the following cross-faded image can be created simply by drawing a transparent gradient from left to right on the upper of the two layers:



Example 1

Top Layer: car image with left-to-right transparent gradient. Bottom Layer: photo of Seattle

Repeat Modes

The Repeat Modes define how the gradient should act beyond the edges of the shape. The three modes are No Repeat, Repeat Wrapped and Repeat Reflected.

No Repeat - The graduated part of the gradient does not extend beyond the limits imposed by the control nubs. This is the behavior seen in 3.5x.

Repeat Wrapped - The gradient between the control nubs is repeated in slices the same width as the distance between the control nubs.  The slices will have a hard edge where one gradient finishes and the next begins.

Repeat Reflected - The gradient is mirrored along the edges. This results in a seamless repeating pattern.

The Repeat modes are demonstrated in this image.

Gradient Repeat Modes Gradient Repeat Modes

Blend Modes

Gradients can be applied using a blend mode selected from the Tool Bar.  The gradient will be applied in accordance with the other parameters (Color/Transparency, Repeat Mode, etc....) then reinterpreted as if the pixels were on their own layer with the layer blend mode set.

Tool Blend Modes Tool Blend Modes