Recoloring with Custom Gradients

with 11 Comments

Recoloring with Custom Gradients
by Nannette Dalton

The Gradient tool is something that I don’t get to play with very much. If I do, I usually use the predefined gradient sets that come with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, some of which are a little strange in my opinion.

Knowing how to change a gradient’s colors can come in handy. It can be confusing at first, but once you make your first custom gradient, you’ll start having lots of gradient fun. Here’s how.

Step One: Prepare the Workspace

  • Open a scrapbook page (File > Open) with which you wish to work. Or, create a new 12 x 12 inch document (File > New > Blank File) at 300 ppi with a white background. (Photoshop: Choose File > New.)
  • Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips to the default of black and white.

Step Two: Open an Element

  • Open an element that you would like to recolor. I am using the ‘celebrate’ word art from A New Year Celebration by Just Jaimee.
  • Get the Move tool.
  • Click and drag the element onto the scrapbook page. You can see my white celebrate word art on my scrapbook page below.

Step Three: Add Gradient Stops

  • Get the Gradient tool.
  • In the Tool Options, set the Mode to Normal and the Opacity to 100%. Uncheck Reverse. Check both Transparency and Dither. Click on the Linear Gradient icon.
  • In the Tool Options, open the Gradient Picker and choose Foreground to Background. If you don’t see Foreground to Background, open the menu and choose Default. (Photoshop: Open the fly-out menu, choose Reset Gradients, and click OK.)
  • In Tool Options, click on the Edit button to open the Gradient Editor. (Photoshop: In the Options bar, click on the gradient window to open the Gradient Editor.)

Note: The Foreground to Background gradient already has two color stops—a black one at 0% and a white one at 100%. Because I want five colors in my gradient I need to add 3 more color stops.

  • In the Gradient Editor, click in the blank space below the Gradient bar to make a new Color Stop. Change the Location to 50%.


  • Repeat this step adding a color stop at 25% and 75%.


Step Four: Change the Color Stop Color

  • Double click on the 0% Color Stop (far left) to open the Color Picker.
  • In the Color Picker, choose a color for your first stop, or click on your layout to sample a color. Click OK to accept the change and close the Color Picker.
  • Repeat Step Four to change the color of the 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% stops.
  • Click OK to accept the change and close the Gradient Editor.

Note: If you need to remove a Color Stop, click and drag it straight down, and off the bar before you close the Gradient Editor.


Step Five: Recolor the Element

  • In the Layers panel, click on the element you want to recolor to activate it.
  • Click on the Create a New Layer icon.
  • In the Menu bar, choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask.
  • On the document, click and drag from the left of the element to the right to create a gradient. If you don’t like how it turned out have another go at it. You could also try dragging in a different direction for additional effects.
  • Press Ctrl E (Mac: Cmd E) to merge the gradient and element layers.


This technic works well with many elements and custom shapes. Here are some examples from A New Year Celebration by Just Jaimee to give you an idea of the type of elements that will work well.



OK, it is your turn to give it a try. I think you will love being able to make your own custom gradient colored elements to coordinate with your kits.


Layout & Photo: Nannette Dalton
Kit: A New Year Celebration by Just Jaimee
Font: Bebas, American Typewriter, Chris Hmk
Software: Photoshop CC, Photoshop Elements 14

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11 Responses

  1. DorrieH.
    | Reply

    Nann, this was a great tutorial. I had fun doing it, just haven’t found a layout I wanted to use it on yet. After creating the new gradient I also discovered that instead of creating a new layer I could just control-click the thumbnail of the element and then use the gradient tool on it. Of course giving it a new name so as not to over right the original element. Probably using the clipping mask is better, but I sometime go for the quickest instead.

  2. Rhonda J
    | Reply

    It seems so simple the way you explain it. I’ve often wondered how they do that when they make design elements and pages. Thank you!

    • Nann Dalton
      | Reply

      Thanks Rhonda, You are right it is super simple once you understand how it works.

  3. Vivian
    | Reply

    Wow! Wow! WOW! Just tried this out and LOVE it! Now to use it on a real page. Thank you so much for doing this tutorial.

    • Nann Dalton
      | Reply

      Vivain you made me laugh! “Wow” what a wonderful comment thank you!

  4. SallyN
    | Reply

    Thank so much for this tut! Now I see how somebody makes multi-colored letters in word art! Will definitely have to give this a try.

    • Nann Dalton
      | Reply

      That’s so wonderful to hear, Sally! Thank you for your lovely comment! 🙂 Nann

  5. Shirl
    | Reply

    After viewing your gorgeous, colorful layout, I just had to download. Hugs. 🙂

    • Nann Dalton
      | Reply

      You always know the perfect thing to say Shirl. Thank you.

  6. Donna
    | Reply

    I love this technique, Nann. I am going to have to try it out later today.

    • Nann Dalton
      | Reply

      Thanks Donna, I would love to see it on one of your beautiful pages.

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