How to Apply a Preset Gradient to a Selection in Photoshop CS6 - dummies

How to Apply a Preset Gradient to a Selection in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

Gradients add creative value to your work and Photoshop CS6 has preset gradients for you to use until you master creating your own. Here’s how to apply a preset gradient to a selection in Adobe Photoshop CS6:

  1. Select the layer from the Layers panel and/or make the selection that you want to apply the gradient to.

  2. Select the Gradient tool from the Tools panel (or press G or Shift+G) until the Gradient tool becomes active.

  3. Select one of the preset gradients from the Gradient Picker drop-down panel on the Options bar.

    The Neutral Density preset is based on an analog graduated neutral-density lens filter. This preset is great when you want to correct an image that may have an overly bright (or overexposed) sky in comparison to the rest of the image.

    Create a new layer over your image layer and drag the Gradient tool (set to Linear) from the top to the bottom, using this preset. Then play with various blend modes for that layer. Overlay and Soft Light usually work well. You can also try using this new preset when layer masking.

  4. Select the gradient type by clicking one of the icons on the Options bar.

    • Linear: Blends the colors of the gradient from start color to end color in a straight line


    • Radial: Blends the colors outward in a circular pattern

    • Angle: Creates a counterclockwise sweep around the starting point, resembling a radar screen

    • Reflected: Blends the colors by using symmetrical linear gradients on either side of the starting point

    • Diamond: Blends the colors outward in a diamond pattern

  5. Choose any other options you want from the Options bar.

  6. Place the cursor at the position in the layer or selection where you want to place the starting color of the gradient.

  7. Drag in any direction to the point you want to place the end color.

    Longer drags result in a subtle transition between colors, whereas shorter drags result in a more abrupt transition. Press the Shift key while dragging to restrain the direction of the gradient to an even 45-degree angle, as well as perfectly horizontal or vertical.

  8. Release the mouse button to apply the gradient.