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Photoshop Basics: Gradients

Part 1: Custom Gradient creation
Making a sky/horizon gradient
So, now that we know what everything does, we'll take a quick look at how to apply these capabilities to a practical example. In this case, we'll create a gradient that will simulate a sky, horizon and ground plane, presumably to be used as a backdrop for a landscape composition.

Create a new fill layer, and launch the Gradient Editor as before. Then follow these steps.

1. Set the two top opacity stops to 100 percent.

2. Create a new color stop at the 50 percent location.

3. Then adjust the color values for your three color stops. For mine, I'll use (left to right, values in HSB): brown (H 40, S 61, B 27), cream (H 51, S 11, B 100) and blue (H 214, S 26, B 76).

4. Finally, I'll set the Smoothness value to 0, which will create a thin band of "haze" for my horizon. And here's the result. (Be sure to name and save your gradient, if you intend to use it on future projects.)

After you apply the gradient, you can always go back and clean things up. To move the horizon lower, slide the center stop to the left. To make the horizon stand out more, adjust the Gradient Midpoint markers closer to the center stop. You get the idea.

In our next installment we'll take a look at the three primary uses for gradients--fills, masks and overlays. In the meantime, if you have any questions, you can visit me in the Adobe Photoshop forum here.
--Dave Nagel

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