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By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

You can easily create a gradient effect using the Gradient Tool in Adobe Photoshop CS5. Choose the Gradient tool and click and drag across an image area to create a gradient in the direction and length of the mouse motion. A short drag creates a short gradient; a long drag produces a smoother, longer gradient.

From the Options bar, you also can choose the type of gradient you want: Linear, Radial, Angle, Reflected, or Diamond.

As a default, gradients are created using the current foreground and background colors. Click the arrow on the Gradient button on the Options bar to assign a different preset gradient.

To create a gradient, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the Gradient tool and click the Gradient Editor button on the Options bar.

    The Gradient Editor dialog box appears. At the bottom of the gradient preview, you see two or more stops, which is where new colors are inserted into the gradient. They look like little house icons. Use the stops on top of the gradient slider to determine the opacity.

  2. Click a stop and click the color swatch to the right of the word Color to open the Color Picker and assign a different color to the stop.

  3. Click anywhere below the gradient preview to add more color stops.

  4. Drag a color stop off the Gradient Editor dialog box to delete it.

  5. Click the top of the gradient preview to assign different stops with varying opacity.

    Assigning varying amounts of opacity using the stops on top of the gradient slider.

    Assigning varying amounts of opacity using the stops on top of the gradient slider.
  6. When you’re finished editing the gradient, name it and then click the New button.

    The new gradient is added to the preset gradient choices.

  7. To apply your gradient, drag across a selection or image with the Gradient tool.