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Gradient Bars


Gradient bars are perhaps one of the most commonly used graphical effects in the world today. Widely implemented as building blocks for more complex designs, they are easy to create, simple to modify, and endlessly flexible. Testament to this fact, there are also many different ways to design them, all of which achieve the same result, albeit with varying build-times and flexibility. My method is rather long-winded when compared to some of the alternatives, but gives a result that is far more versatile and allows easy reuse of gradients with greater symmetry in complex designs. Best of all, it uses the layer effects functionality present in Photoshop, allowing bevels, shadows, and other simple effects to be applied with relative ease.

Step 1 - New Document
Create a blank 300px by 150px document and fill the background with anything you like (white may be best at first). Create a new transparent layer on top via Layer > New > Layer and, using the Rectangular Marquee Tool, draw a rectangle. The size doesn't really matter, because we can easily alter a gradient to fit it, and not vice-versa. Now make sure you have the top layer active and choose Edit > Fill from the menu. Fill the rectangle with 50% grey. You can now deselect if you want.


Step 2 - Gradient Overlays
With the shape layer still selected in the layers palette, choose Layer > Layer Style > Gradient Overlay from the menu. This will pop up a dialog like the one in the example below. Click on the gradient itself to load up the gradient editor. There are, of course, many default gradients included with Photoshop (copper is a nice one), but we want to make our own, so enter a name in the text field and take a little time to familiarize yourself with the options underneath.


Step 3 - The Gradient Editor
As you will no doubt notice, there are two sets of swatches - those underneath, and those on top. The top ones set varying opacity through the gradient, which we do not want to use in this case, so place one at both ends and make sure they are set at 100% opaque. The ones underneath set colours along the gradient, and can be set to anything you desire. You can create more swatches by clicking in-between two active ones, and tighten / loosen gradient steepness by dragging the diamond-shaped symbols around. Fiddle around a bit to get the hang of it, and once you think you have worked it out, duplicate the settings beneath.


Step 4 - Applying The Gradient
Press the new button to save your gradient. This will place it at the end of your pre-existing gradients. Now just click on it to select it, and press OK to go back to the layer effects dialog. Once you've done this, change the gradient overlay settings to mine below and admire your work. See, wasn't that simple?

NB. As a side note, if you have spent a lot of time designing gradients for a project it is, of course, a good idea to back them up, which you can also do the gradient editor screen.


Step 5 - Going Further
Now that your gradient is designed you should, of course, consider adding other layer effects (Layer > Layer Style) to make it look more complete. Drop shadows, outer glows, and bevels are very useful and will give your creations a bit more depth. You'll also be able to alter the size, direction, and scale of your gradients - very handy if you want to design a cohesive interface. In my example below I've rounded out the corners, added a drop shadow, and an outer glow (black), together with a funky background.  I'll refrain from giving you the exact settings I used as its more fun to work it out for yourself!  ;)


Variations
It should be remembered, of course, that gradients are a primary building block of more complex designs. With a little time and effort you can create some fantastically intricate objects and interfaces. Just have a play around and see what you can come up with - its often surprising how easily you can create something that looks fantastic in very little time at all.

- Tutorial written by Man1c M0g

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Last 5 User Comments

User:  Tamlin (#63285)
Date: Fri Aug 13, 2010. 06:05:50

Post #5 of 5

Quote from bluesombre;63284:
The most annoying thing about most of these tuts is they dont cater for photoshop CS and the like.
For example, in photshop CS if you "Click on the gradient itself to load up the gradient editor. ....make our own, so enter a name in the text field ...."
There is no 'text field' nor any editor as shown with swatches.

Um...well, I've just tried this in CS5 and the steps to getting up the Gradient Editor are exactly the same (click on the Gradient section in the Gradient Overlay dialog). The Gradient Editor also works exactly the same as described in the tut. There is definitely a box to enter a gradient name (it's labelled Name).

I think you'll find that the major difference between old and new versions of Photoshop is the introduction of new features - very rarely do the Adobe developers mess about with established features, precisely because they want to retain as much backwards-compatibility as possible. I have an extensive library of Photoshop "how-to" books, some of which go back to PS 6, but they all contain information and techniques which are still current and usable, even with CS5.

Maybe if you give a little more info regarding the steps you are following (maybe include some screenshots), we can offer a little more detailed help.

Reply to this post


User:  bluesombre (#63284)
Date: Fri Aug 13, 2010. 05:13:45

Post #4 of 5

The most annoying thing about most of these tuts is they dont cater for photoshop CS and the like.
For example, in photshop CS if you "Click on the gradient itself to load up the gradient editor. ....make our own, so enter a name in the text field ...."
There is no 'text field' nor any editor as shown with swatches.

Reply to this post


User:  khaled (#30401)
Date: Thu Jul 27, 2006. 13:37:38

Post #3 of 5

hi
this a good tot
i learn how i design any gradient ,also learn that the upper arrow controling in opacity and the lower for color,this good to understand a important part from ps i want to say this tot is impotant for the biggner

Reply to this post


User:  Man1c M0g (#24202)
Date: Sun Feb 19, 2006. 20:37:15

Post #2 of 5

Quote from sirNemanjapro:
Hi!
This tutorial is all wrong. Has anyone read it?
As if its ment to get people off track not on it.
Errors all around, Elliptical Marquee Tool??? How can you with absolute no settings get it to draw a object you have shown. Winch is a BLOCK, not a round shape object, wich is beeing drawn if used Elliptical Marquee Tool.
And more and more errors follow.

Funnyest is that you in the end say's something like "You can add some other layers on top and get what you need." Xaxaxaxa! Come on, what layers.

You have made a button that is, not completly, thanks God, off tutorial that is ment. YOu only got the colors right. And in the last pic you did something that others will never know how did you get that button. (I suppose its gradient... but...).

My rating is 0 (zero).
Rewritte your tutorial, please.

Thanks for noticing the typo - we did indeed mean 'rectangular marquee tool' and not 'elliptical marquee tool'. In all other matters, though, the tutorial is methodologically just fine. That said, I've added a few extra bits here and there to ensure that the more novice users do not get confused. Many thanks for the feedback! ;)

Reply to this post


User:  sirNemanjapro (#24190)
Date: Sun Feb 19, 2006. 14:54:02

Post #1 of 5

Hi!
This tutorial is all wrong. Has anyone read it?
As if its ment to get people off track not on it.
Errors all around, Elliptical Marquee Tool??? How can you with absolute no settings get it to draw a object you have shown. Winch is a BLOCK, not a round shape object, wich is beeing drawn if used Elliptical Marquee Tool.
And more and more errors follow.

Funnyest is that you in the end say's something like "You can add some other layers on top and get what you need." Xaxaxaxa! Come on, what layers.

You have made a button that is, not completly, thanks God, off tutorial that is ment. YOu only got the colors right. And in the last pic you did something that others will never know how did you get that button. (I suppose its gradient... but...).

My rating is 0 (zero).
Rewritte your tutorial, please.

Reply to this post


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