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Discover the Power of Color with the PicMonkey Gradient Tool

What’s one of the hottest, coolest design trends today? 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 new logo, the gradient craze exploded. Our new, easy-to-use gradient tool ensures that PicMonkeyers aren’t left out of the party. Watch our video tutorial below or read on to learn how to use it, and get inspired by some gorgeous designs.

Quick steps for adding a gradient 

  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. 

Gradients can be added to any object in your design: a photo, a graphic, a background, or a chunk of text too; it’s essentially the same process.

How to add a gradient to anything

Click the Layers palette (stacked squarer icon in the bottom toolbar), and select the layer with the item you want to add the gradient to. Click the Effects tab (magic wand icon) on the far left. Then, in the menu to the right of the tabs, scroll down to the Paintbox group and click Gradient. In the gradient controls, click the color circles at the top to specify the colors you want.

You can choose colors using the spectrum, the palette, or the eyedropper tool. Next, click the dropdown list under Blend mode, and explore all the options. Experiment with the Direction and Fade sliders, and click Apply when you’re done.

Tweak your design but keep the gradient

Elephants never forget and neither does PicMonkey’s gradient feature. So, if you put a gradient on text, and later you decide to edit the text in that image, PicMonkey will retain the same gradient choices with your new text.

If you replace a photo with another photo, the gradient will also remain—as long as it’s a layer, not a background. If it is a background, click “Convert to layer”in the Layers palette. Then click your new photo layer to bring up the Graphic palette and click Replace to swap in a new photo.

Apply 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.

Choose colors well

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. 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. So give gradients a try and see what they can do for your designs.

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

Before joining the PicMonkey editorial team as a senior writer, Molly wrote 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.