Image Editing 102: How to add a gradient to images

by Caroline Mercurio on October 5, 2014 No comments

Part of the fun of Photoshop, and related tools, is the ability to play editor with your own images or images you find, such as the royalty free ones found on You can change colors or edit out the ugly bits, like power lines in the background or that splotch on your friend’s nose. One of the simplest but most effective tools for transforming your image is adding a gradient, or the variation of tones from light to dark or one color to another. You can do this easily in Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Here’s how:


Go to the File Menu and click Open. Go to the Tools pane and click the Lasso icon. Make an outline around the part of the picture you want to put the gradient on and use your right mouse button to select “layer via copy.” Select the background layer from the layers palette. Use your right mouse button to select the Paint Bucket tool and pull down the Gradient Tool from the flyout menu. Pick whatever gradient you want to use. Click and drag your mouse from the corner or side of the image to the edge of the area you want to add the gradient to, and you’re done!

Adobe Illustrator

Select the Gradient Tool from the toolbar. Click and drag the mouse from where you want the gradient to start to the ending point. You can select multiple colors from the gradient palette to add more than one gradient to the image. You can use different shades and directions for a subtle effect.

Let your creativity shine through. Pick a simple image and see what you can do by playing with the colors and directions of your gradient. You can take an everyday image and add an element of fantasy by adding an unusual color gradient. You can spice up a simple shot by adding a translucent black to white gradient. Check out a huge selection of royalty free photos at for inspiration or something to play with. Try images with and without people for some different options, and discover the gradient effects that are the most pleasing to your eye.

Caroline MercurioImage Editing 102: How to add a gradient to images

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