How To Change Gradient Color In Photoshop

Gradients are available in Photoshop to use in a variety of ways. You can add them as a fill to a shape, as a background, or even use them to make gradient text. The only trouble is, if you don’t know how to change the color of your gradients in Photoshop, you won’t get very far.

To change the color of a gradient in Photoshop, follow these steps:

  1. Select your Gradient Tool (G) or Gradient Fill Layer.
  2. Click on the Gradient Preview to open the Gradient Editor.
  3. Choose a preset gradient from the provided color swatches.
  4. Create a custom gradient by double-clicking on the color swatches below the gradient preview.
  5. Click OK to save your new gradient color

If you’re unfamiliar with the Gradient Tool or are more of a visual learner like I am, let’s break those steps down more in-depth.

How To Change Gradient Colors In The Gradient Editor

First, let’s locate the gradient editor. There are several ways to reach the window where you can see the various gradient color options. You can access the gradient settings from the fill options when you’ve added an element such as a shape to your document.

From here, you can see all the gradient settings, and you can follow the steps detailed below to select your gradient. Alternatively, you can select the Gradient Tool in the toolbar.

Once you’ve selected the Gradient Tool, you’ll notice the toolbar at the top changes to Gradient settings.

While the two panels are slightly different, the process is the same no matter which way you add a gradient. 

Before you select the colors, it’s best to choose the type of gradient you’d like to work with. The default is a Linear gradient, but you can switch to (in order) Radial, Angle, Reflected, or Diamond-Shape. For our example, we’ll stick with the Linear gradient.

Once you’ve selected your gradient direction, click the color drop-down arrow in the Options bar and you’ll see a variety of color swatches and styles in different tabs.

Feel free to open up and explore the various tabs with different color swatches. But remember that you aren’t restricted to only these color combinations, as you can change any of the colors in your gradient using the color picker or by entering the HEX codes. 

For this example, I’ll start in the greens tab. In any of the color swatch tabs, you’ll see a bunch of preset gradients using different shades of that color. 

You can select the one you like, return to the document, and click the Gradient Color bar. This will bring you to the Gradient Editor window, where you can edit the gradient you’ve chosen to start with. 

You can also directly click the gradient bar itself (as opposed to the drop-down arrow) to head straight to the Gradient Editor window, but it can be helpful to select a sample gradient, to begin with.

In the Gradient Editor window, you can set the appearance of your gradient — from the colors to the amount and direction in which they appear in the gradient. 

To start, you want to ensure the Gradient Type is set to Solid. The Smoothness setting can stay at 100 as this will ensure the blending between colors is smooth.

Below, the color bar allows you to add, select, and specify the quantity of the different colors in the gradient.

The toggles at the top represent the opacity stop in each area, so you only need to move these if you plan to decrease the opacity in some areas to make transparent gradients. Otherwise, you won’t need to worry about these. 

To add a color, you can click along the bottom of the gradient bar beside any of the toggles already there. 

A new colored toggle will appear in the location you click.

Click the Delete key on your keyboard or the Delete button after clicking any of the colored toggles to delete that color.

Double-click any colored toggles at the bottom of the bar to pull up the Color Picker window, where you can drag to select the exact color you’d like in that part of the gradient.

At the bottom of this window, you can enter the HEX code for a color if you need a specific color for a project.

You can also control the location and amount of each color in the gradient by dragging the toggles left and right along the bottom.

How To Change Colors Of An Existing Gradient

Sometimes, you may need to adjust a gradient you’ve already applied to an element. But maybe you couldn’t edit the gradient because the gradient layer was rasterized.

The easiest way to change the color then is to add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to your gradient. To do this, select the area of your image containing the gradient. You can make an active selection using any of the Marquee or Lasso tools or any other quick selection tools you prefer.

With your selection made, head to the Layers panel.

Here, you can apply a Hue/Saturation mask to this selection by clicking the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the panel. Click Hue/Saturation from the options.

Now, the Hue and Saturation settings appear in the Properties panel. Before you change the color, make sure the Channel is set to Master.

Then, drag the toggle along the Hue bar, and the gradient colors will change.

You can also use the Saturation and Lightness adjustments to make your colors more or less vivid and darker or lighter — though it is suggested to keep Saturation relatively high to ensure the colors are accurate.

Observe the gradient changing as you move the sliders until you find the colors you like.

This process is only necessary if you cannot access the gradient editor and you are working with a rasterized layer. In cases where you can edit the gradient fill, it is far more effective to go into the gradient editor and make your changes there instead.

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. You can view my photography portfolio here.

These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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