The gradient tool within Photoshop has many uses, but here we will concentrate on what we feel are the two most popular ones and give you examples of their practical use.
When the gradient tool is selected from the toolbar the options shown below will appear at the top of your screen. Photoshop 5 and 5.5 users must double click the icon in the toolbar call up these options.
In Photoshop 6 the paint bucket tool is also located with the gradient tool. Just click the icon for the hidden options to appear as we have shown below.
The gradient tool has many other options when you click on the tiny black arrows as we have shown below . Down at the the bottom of the side menu for example you will see that there are many gradation samples for you to load and use.
One of the practical uses is to make striking backgrounds for your images. Create a new blank canvas for a simple exercise The size of the canvas isn't important, but 10*8 @ 72 dpi is about right for this exercise. Choose two bold colours for your background and foreground as shown here.
Select the foreground to background option shown below.
With the above settings chosen move onto your blank canvas and draw a line down your page and a red to blue gradation will appear. Your gradation will vary depending on how long you draw the line.
In our example below the line was drawn from the top to the bottom of the page.
While in our second example below the line was drawn from the top to the centre of the page.
Tip......Holding the shift key will assist you in making vertical and horizontal gradations.
Experiment with the other options to see what effects you can create.
The gradient tool is very good in practical use when applied in conjunction with a layer mask to create smooth masking between pictures. Use the same settings as you have for the exercise, but choose foreground to transparent as your gradation mode as shown below.