Discover the Power of Color with the PicMonkey Gradient Tool

Discover the Power of Color with the PicMonkey Gradient Tool
August 2, 2018 Molly Shapiro

Note: This tutorial shows how to make gradients in New PicMonkey—sign up to get access. We have tons of tutorials on using Old PicMonkey, if you want to keep using the old site.

What’s one of the hottest, coolest design trends today? (Yes, it’s so cool, it’s hot!) Gradients. The gradient—or transition from one color to another—has been inching its way into the designgeist for a while now, but when Instagram used it for its revolutionary new logo, the gradient craze exploded.

We want to make sure that PicMonkeyers aren’t left out of the gradient party, so we’ve created a ridiculously easy-to-use gradient tool that will have you color fading, shifting, and blending in no time.

Watch our video tutorial below or read on to learn more about the PicMonkey gradient tool.

Quick steps for adding a gradient to your image

  1. Click Create to open an image in the PicMonkey editor.
  2. In the Effects tab (the magic wand icon) click Gradient.
  3. Click the color circles to choose your colors.
  4. Play with the blend modes and the Direction and Fade sliders to get the look you want.
  5. Click Apply and you’re on your way!

Now that you’ve gotten the basic idea, let’s dive into more detail.

How to add a gradient to an image, graphic, and text

Adding a gradient to an image, an graphic, or text is essentially the same process. Just select the item you want to add the gradient to, click Gradient, and the gradient controls appear in the panel on the left. Click the color circles at the top to specify the colors you want. There are several ways to choose: finding one in the spectrum or the color wheel; using the eyedropper to match a color in your image; or typing the 6 digits of a hex code of a color you know you want.

After you’ve chosen your colors, this is where the fun begins. There are so many different looks you can get by playing around with the blend modes. Click in the dropdown list under Blend mode, and explore all the options. We chose Hardlight for this image. Next, play with the Direction and Fade sliders, and click Apply when you’re done.

Keeping a gradient when you’ve changed your mind

If you change letters or words in your text layer, PicMonkey remembers your gradient choices and applies them to the new text.

You can also keep your gradient if you change your mind about a photo, as long as it is a layer, not a background. Check by opening the Layers palette. (Click the icon that looks like a stack of square pancakes in the bottom toolbar.) If your photo layer says “Background,” click Convert to layer. Then, with the photo layer selected, click the Replace button in the Graphics palette that appears. Now you can replace the photo and your gradient will retain all the groovy choices you made when you first applied it.

Applying a gradient across several objects

You can multi-select several objects (text, graphics, textures) by holding down the shift key as you click them in your design, or in the layers palette. Click Gradient, then click Apply and the gradient background will show across all at once.

Attract attention

Whether you’re posting your designs on social media, placing them on a website or blog, or using them on an invite or announcement, one of your chief goals is to stand out from the crowd. And that’s the great thing about gradients—they’re sure to get you noticed. With gradients, you can be loud and bold or sweet and subtle, depending on your color choices, added effects, and level of fading. But no matter what you choose to do with our gradient generator, you can count on being on the cutting edge.

Choose colors

The colors you choose to use for your gradient will have a major impact on the overall look, so don’t just pick them at random. One way to select gradient colors is by looking at a color wheel. If you’re going for a more subtle look, you’ll want a smooth transition, so choose two colors that are near each other on the wheel. If you want a bolder, more dramatic feel, choose colors on opposite sides of the wheel, also known as complementary colors. You can find all sorts of fun web-based resources to help you with your color choices, such as ColorSpace and uiGradients.

Create connections

When designing images, one of the most important things is to make a powerful connection with the viewer. Gradients do that by evoking emotion, whether it be excitement, mystery, joy, or romance. And because gradients are part of the natural world that surrounds us every day, we tend to have a visceral reaction to them. Gradients can be found in fruits, leaves, trees, mountains, the sky, the ocean, sunrises, and sunsets. They can even be seen on our own bodies, from the iris of our eyes to the subtle gradations of our hair.


Open up an image, apply a gradient, and see what happens!

Make something

Molly Shapiro

In addition to her work on the PicMonkey blog, Molly writes about topics as varied as politics, finance, global health, and online dating. As a fiction writer, she’s published two books, both available on Amazon through totally non-sketchy retailers. A midwestern transplant who now calls Seattle home, Molly firmly believes that the Space Needle is way cooler than the Eiffel Tower.