Affinity Photo Gradient tool tutorial

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By Andrew Buckle, Updated : 2021

How to use the gradient tool in Affinity Photo, how to create colorful designs, change the stops, combine gradients and more

** Youtube video tutorial on the gradient tool in Affinity Photo **

Gradient tool in Affinity Photo

1. Where is the Gradient tool in Affinity Photo

You can find the gradient tool in the Affinity Photo toolbar, you can select it and then create a gradient using the current gradient and type on a pixel layer etc, it needs a layer to work with.

Gradient tool location in affinity photo

2. Basic use of the Gradient tool

You can use it with all types of layers, images, pixel layers, shapes, etc By default, applying the gradient tool and it always uses the same default gradient, black to white and linear (sadly, it doesn't recall the last used gradient and type). That is the default, you can change the generated gradient quick enough by changing the origin and length by dragging the gradient line and re-positioning it.

Gradient controls for the tool

3. Gradient tool type

By default it always goes back to linear but there are a number of other types such as ellipse and radial and conical and bitmap (sadly missing a diamond or fractal etc). There is also no repeat feature. The gradient type can be changed via the top bar. The ellipse is very similar to radial but the ratio between horizontal and vertical is not 1 and you can create elliptical shapes, you can also use it to create radial. The tool also includes a solid color type (a basic fill) as well as a bitmap pattern option which is superb for quickly importing a bitmap image and using as a tile, though not particularly a gradient (why wasn't there a pattern tool instead ?)

Gradient types in affinity photo

4. Gradient editor

Next to the type along the top bar for the gradient tool, you can click on the current gradient and change the colors and stop information. The first two stops by default at 0 and 100% cannot be moved, you can change the color as well as the opacity of the gradient tool's stops but not their positions.

Gradient editor

You can always add new gradient stops to the editor by double clicking on the gradient editor line and then changing the color and opacity in the same panel so the color can be set to green or red and the opacity set to 100% to transparent at 0%.

Gradient stops

You can also move the midpoint between the gradient stops by dragging and you will then get more of one color stop than another instead of half and half.

Gradient midpoint

You can add multiple gradient stops, you can also select the gradient stop and press the delete to key to remove it . The panel also remove itself so as soon as go back to apply the gradient with the tool, the editor vanishes back into the top bar.

blue gradient

5. Gradient tool and rotate

Once you have added the gradient, with the gradient tool selected (keep this active as if you move back to the move tool the gradient tool defaults back to the default) you can rotate the gradient.

rotate the gradient controls

6. Reverse the gradient

The gradient tool has black and white as the stops, the reverse button just reverse this to apply the white / black. More useful if you have a complex gradient with multiple stops and the reverse will flip all the stops.

reverse the gradient

7. Apply the gradients to multiple layers

Unfortunately only a single gradient can be added to a gradient using the tool, to create any number of combinations using blending modes requires the use of multiple layers. So on the first layer, create a gradient and then go to the layer menu and create a new gradient and then add another gradient and then go to the layers panel and use the blending modes to blend perhaps with difference or darken or lighten etc.

blend the gradients

8. Using effects on the layers

Once you have applied the gradient using the tool, it can be changed, you can quickly apply all kinds of effects to the design such as the deform filter or add noise filter etc

gradients and filters

9. Pattern layers and gradients

You can create a gradient and then select the layer and then go to the layer menu and create a new pattern layer from the current selection. You can then re-size the pattern design as well as rotate it though you should not that the gradient design is now frozen into the pattern layer, it is not using the design beneath as a proxy source. You can though combine the current pattern layer with the underlying gradient layer and you can also change the underlying gradient pixel layer and either create a new pattern layer as well as use blending modes to blend the pattern with the gradient design. Once you are happy with your combos of patterns and gradients, you can merge visible into a single layer and then add effects such as deform filter to that and then use the pattern layer feature again if you wish to create all kinds of amazing artworks. At each stage, the design can be be exported as a JPG etc

** Youtube video tutorial on the gradient tool in Affinity Photo combining the result with a pattern layer and multiple layers combined using blending modes **