How to Use Radial Gradient in Photoshop

In the graphic design and photography worlds, gradients can be employed to create gradual fades in color, tint, transparency, and more. The most common gradient fades from left to right, but Adobe Photoshop has plenty of other options to choose from. 

Below, we've outlined how to apply a radial gradient, Photoshop style. Radial gradients start with a colored circle, which radiates outwards like the sun and fades into a completely different color. In this example, we will create a simple rectangular shape and customize it with a gradient, but you can add gradients to complex shapes and images as well. 

  1. First, launch a new Photoshop project and create a shape with the Rectangle tool, located on the main toolbar. For this project, we want to fill the entire shape with a radial gradient, but Photoshop also allows you to select a smaller area of the shape with the Lasso, and only apply a gradient to that section.  
  2. With your shape selected, choose the Gradient tool from the main toolbar. The icon looks like a rectangle changing from black to white, and you may need to click and hold on the paint bucket icon first to locate it.   
  3. The Gradient tool has a number of powerful features, which can adjusted on the top horizontal toolbar. Here, you'll a variety of icons that correspond to different gradient styles. To enable a radial gradient, choose the icon with a fading white circle in the middle. 
  4. Next, if you'd like to change the gradient color scheme, double-click on either of the two colored squares at the bottom of the main toolbar. The top square is your starting color (in this case, the color of your fading circle), while the bottom square is the finishing color. 
  5. Finally, to ensure that your radial gradient starts in the right place (and with the right color), click and hold your mouse where you'd like the gradient to begin. You can also click off-screen, if you only want part of the fade to appear on your shape. Then, move the cursor where you'd like the gradient to fade, while continuing to hold the mouse button. 
  6. When you release the mouse, a radial gradient will be applied to the shape. Drawing a long line before releasing the mouse will result in a gradual gradient, and drawing a short line will create a swifter gradient. For even more control, you can adjust the opacity, smoothness, and other settings in the Gradient Editor, which can be opened by clicking the preview gradient at the top left corner of the gradient toolbar. 
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