How to Make Beautiful Gradient Typography with Photoshop

How to Make Beautiful Gradient Typography with Photoshop

In this Photoshop type treatment tutorial for beginners, you’ll discover a quick and easy process for making captivating gradient text. Be sure to check out the Gradient Typography in Web Design showcase for inspiration.

Final Result

Below, you can see what we’ll be creating together. You can click on the image to see the full-resolution version.

Final Result

Set up the Photoshop document

1 To start, let’s set up the Photoshop document. In Photoshop, Press Ctrl + N to create a new document (this should open the New Document dialog box). We’ll create a rectangular canvas that’s 600px wide and 300px tall.

Set up the Photoshop document

Set up the Photoshop document

Design the background of the text

2 We’ll use a dark blue background. First, we’ll need to make the Background layer editable because it’s locked by default. Double-click on the Background layer in the Layers Panel to open the New Layer dialog box. By default, the Name option is set to Layer 0, but to keep things organized, name it to something more descriptive like Background.

Design the background of the text

Design the background of the text

3 We’ll apply a color overlay layer style onto the Background layer. Start by double-clicking on the Background layer’s thumbnail in the Layers Panel to open up the Layer Styles dialog box. Check the Color Overlay box to apply the layer style.

Design the background of the text

4 Change the color overlay by clicking on the Set color of overlay option which will open the Select overlay color dialog box for you to choose your colors in.

Design the background of the text

5 In the Select overlay color dialog box, choose a dark color. I’ve chosen a dark blue color (#032d50).

Design the background of the text

Design the background of the text

Create a lighting effect in the background

6 The background should now be a dark blue color. Let’s make it a little bit more interesting by creating some lighting. First, create a new layer by clicking on the Create a new layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Then rename the new layer (by default it’ll be Layer 1) to something intuitive like Lightsource.

Create a lighting effect in the background

Create a lighting effect in the background

7 Set your Foreground color in the Tools Panel to white (#ffffff). Grab the Brush Tool (B) from the Tools Panel.

8 In the Options bar, open the Brush Preset picker by clicking on the downward pointing arrow. Scroll down and select the Soft Mechanical 500 pixels Brush (or choose any brush tip that has a soft edge). Adjust the Master Diameter option to a large value, 700px will do the trick.

Create a lighting effect in the background

9 In the Layers Panel, make sure you’re still on the Lightsource layer. With the Brush Tool, click somewhere in the middle of your canvas to apply the brush. It’s OK if the brush edge is outside of the canvas, it’ll create a nice effect that way.

Create a lighting effect in the background

Create a lighting effect in the background

10 The brush is too prominent so we’ll want to lower the layer opacity to make the lighting effect subtler. Lower the Opacity of the Lightsource layer to somewhere around 35% in the Layers Panel.

Create a lighting effect in the background

Placing the text on the canvas

11 Let’s type in the text that will have the gradient effect. We’ll use a bold sans-serif font–Arial–which really works well with the gradient typography style. Begin by choosing the Horizontal Type Tool (T) in the Tools Panel. Then in the Options bar, select Arial, set the font size to 72px, set the anti-aliasing method option to Sharp, and choose a color that we can easily see, such as white (#ffffff) (it doesn’t matter what color we choose now because the gradient overlay that we’ll be applying later on will take care of this).

Placing the text on the canvas

12 Type some words onto the Canvas like "Gradient Type". Don’t worry where it is on the canvas because we’ll center it in the next step.

Placing the text on the canvas

Centering the text

13 To center the text horizontally, first create a marquee selection around the entire canvas by pressing Ctrl + A (or going to Select > Select All).

Centering the text

14 With the Gradient Type text layer the active layer in the Layers Panel, go to Layers > Align Layers to Selection > Horizontal Centers. This should center the text in the horizontal middle of your canvas.

Centering the text

Centering the text

15 Next, we’ll want to center our text vertically as well. The rectangular marquee selection around the canvas should still be active, but it not, make sure it is (and press Ctrl + A if it isn’t) and then go to Layers Align Layers to Selection > Vertical Centers.

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

16 Time to actually create the gradient type effect. Double-click on the Gradient Type text layer in the Layers Panel to open the Layer Styles Dialog box.

17 First layer style we’ll add to our text is a gradient overlay. We’ll want a color transition that’s white at the top and light gray at the bottom. It will be a subtle gradient type effect. So click on the Gradient Overlay checkbox to apply it. By default, it will be a Black to White color transition, so we’ll need to modify it.

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

18 Click on the Gradient option to open the Gradient Editor dialog box.

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

19 In the Gradient Editor, click on the left color stop to open the Select stop color dialog box. Change the color to a light gray color (#d7d7d7). Make sure that the right color stop is white (#ffffff), by the default it’s white, but in case you have changed the settings, you should verify.

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

20 Next, we’ll add a drop shadow layer style. Check the box beside Drop Shadow. Lower the Opacity of the drop shadow to about 50% so that it’s subtler. Change the Angle of the drop shadow to 90% so that our light source comes from the top of the canvas. Set the Distance to 3px (which means the drop shadow is offset by 3px at the bottom of the text) and the Size to about 8px. Play around with the settings to see what works best for you.

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

21 The final layer style we’ll apply is a white inner stroke. This is a subtle effect but really helps complete the whole gradient text effect. Open the Layer Styles dialog box again by double-clicking on the Gradient Type text layer. Check the box beside Stroke. Set the Stroke Size option to 2px. Set the Position option to Inner so that it’s applied at the inner edge of the type. Finally, lower the Opacity percentage just a tad, to about 90% So that the stroke is not too overpowering.

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

We’re done!

That’s it, below, you’ll see what I ended up with. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned a trick or two!

Applying the layer styles for the gradient type effect

Contribute to the Six Revisions Flickr group

If you liked this tutorial and you followed along with it, please show your appreciation by including a screen capture of your final result in the Six Revisions Flickr group – we’re trying to build the collection so that we, as a community, can see each other’s work.

Download the source file

If you’d like to download the Photoshop source file used in this tutorial, grab it as an archived ZIP file below.

Related Content

About the Author

Jacob Gube is the Founder and Chief Editor of Six Revisions. He’s also a web developer/designer who specializes in front-end development (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) and PHP development. If you’d like to connect with him, head on over to the contact page and follow him on Twitter: @sixrevisions.

This was published on Nov 30, 2009


NoktahHitam Nov 30 2009

Seriously bro? I mean, this trick? I mean no harm, but this seems a little too easy for SixRevisions’ reader.

Nick Sumpter Nov 30 2009

Nice article – I picked up a few helpful little tricks from that. I’m pretty sure the light source trick will come in to play when I do my next re-design.

Keep up the good work!

Roy Ho Nov 30 2009

Nice tutorial for beginners! PS, there is a typo on the first image of the post “Photosop”….

Andy Feliciotti Nov 30 2009

Nice tutorial, I actually made one with a little bit of variation

I was inspired by the text on Freelanceswitch (nice simple effect they use on there)

Coheed Nov 30 2009

I don’t think I can take this post seriously due to the usage of Arial. :P

Great tutorial Jacob. Despite what NoktahHitam thinks, not all of your readers are uber-designers. Some of us are programmers looking for help so that we have a fighting chance when it comes to even the most basic design tricks.

Thank you.

Jacob Gube Nov 30 2009

@Coheed: Ha! I just wanted to use a font that was probably already installed in your computer so that I wouldn’t have to trouble you with downloading a font/installing it just to follow along with the tutorial. Believe me, I’m crazy with fonts, and I can get pretty obscure/expensive with my font choices. But to keep things simple, I decided to use a ubiquitous, albeit boring and plain, font. With that said, use your favorite font, apply the gradient effect from above, and showcase it in the Six Revisions Flickr group pool! :)

Michael Nov 30 2009

i couldn’t get past the misspelling of photoshop in the banner

Senthil Ramesh Dec 01 2009

Well, I am new and learning PS thru online tuts. I can find PS tuts coming daily and this one of the good ones I have read.

There’s a type in de first image of the post… It’s photosHop ;-). Furthermore… this tutorial is to easy!

Tomas Dec 01 2009

Simple but beautiful and useful, thanks Jacob.

Uncleserb Dec 01 2009

Simple yet useful one!
Cheers Jacob!

Sandra Dec 01 2009

Thank you for the tutorial, I don’t understand why your other readers assume that everyone that happens accross your site are veterans of photoshop. There is nothing wrong with an “easy” tutorial, especially when it’s someone new to the program that reads it. Please continue making great tutorials for all levels of readers and users.

I was surprised to see you use a large brush instead of a lighting effects filter, and I think I like that method better!

Jacob Gube Dec 01 2009

@Michael and @Tim: Apologies for the oversight and thank you for letting us know – it’s been corrected.

@Ryan and @Sandra: I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think it’s hard to say general things like “Most users of Six Revisions are [insert generalization here]”, because we all have different backgrounds. More tangible things like Browser Usage, geographic location, sure – but since the site’s friendly to both beginners and advanced individuals, I’m sure a good number of readers found this tutorial to be useful.


@NoktahHitam: You do bring up something that I have been thinking about, and that is, “is Six Revisions readers ready for more advanced Photoshop tutorials?” And I think we are, so I’ll ensure a decent mix of beginner-level and advanced-level tutorials. And thank you for voicing your opinion, it’s feedback like this that we need in order to know what you all are thinking. If you think Six Revisions can improve in any way, know that I read every comment and that you can easily contact me directly. I can’t promise that I can do what you’re suggesting, but I can promise that I will listen with an open mind.

Scott Buchanan Dec 01 2009

@Jacob Perhaps the problem is that Six Revisions is targeting too broad an audience. You’ll limit the number of readers in any one level of experience if you make them sort through irrelevant articles targeted to other levels. It may be better to decide on a specific demographic to target. This article wasn’t just basic, it was almost mind-numbing, at least for anybody more advanced than an absolute beginner.

Jacob Gube Dec 01 2009

@Scott Buchanan: I can see where you’re coming from, and it’s been something I’ve thought about before.

I want the site to be as accessible as possible to any designer or developer, regardless of experience level. Whether you’re a developer and you want to learn a bit of web design (so you can create your own UI buttons, for example), or a web designer wanting to learn a little bit about development (like fancy-shamancy JavaScript interaction or setting up a testing site on your machine so you can test your designs locally).

The central theme of Six Revisions was to share useful information to developers and designers, and to present “both sides of the coin” (something that I explained in the “About” page – but that bit was removed when that page was rewritten recently).

What do you think about having an estimated level of difficulty right at the start of tutorials so that right away, you know whether it’s relevant to you or not? Would that at least partially solve the issue or not at all?

Richie Dec 01 2009

Keep it simple and stupid…. thats exactly what this tut is about… i’m not sure about the stupid part… but a nice tutorial, in the end… thanx

@Richie….. Keep it simple stupid(K.I.S.S), stupid! LOL

Tristan Dec 02 2009

Web developers & designers are the target audience. It’s tough to draw a line between what is beginner, intermediate and advanced. I think one can either learn something from a tutorial or, if one already knows about a particular subject, choose to move on. That too is a simple concept – but from some of the comments, has yet to be learned.

The Colussus Dec 03 2009

ummhh.. Gradient texts are what exactly? Is it a text with a background that is gradient? or a text that is slightly gradient? cuz this tutorial confuse me. it’s like a “plain” text with drop shadow on a background which has a radial glow in the center.

Captain Jack Dec 03 2009

This is basic but it was a good tutorial. how else would someone with an interest pick up the skills to be a photoshop pro if there are no beginner tutorials? I’m not a regular to this site but I’m getting there, and yes I think a difficulty rating would be very helpful. I think it would be terrible if this site was to become exclusively for experts. And I ain’t no beginner!

David Dec 04 2009

Thanks, I learned a few things from this.

Jochen Dec 04 2009

Thanks and a nice Weekend :-)

Brennan Dec 05 2009

Have you tried this with Comic Sans?!

Sorry I had to ;)

Jorge Dec 07 2009

I don’t understand people that do not appreaciate this tutorial if they are to advanced, why do they read it? you show us at the vey beginnig of the tutorial what the end result would look like, if they were too advanced they should have known the level of expertice required for this tutorial. Great Job!

kevin Dec 09 2009

A solid color layer for the first step would have been faster, lighter and easier to modify.

I appreciated the simplicity of this tutorial. In particular because I am a GIMP user (not a Photoshop user). I was able to create an almost identical image using GIMP, but it would have been much more difficult had you not taken things slowly and step-by-step, so… **I** appreciate the simplicity for sure! Well done!

Razmig youssef Dec 20 2009

Thanks for the tutorial but i have to say this is not the right place for it – easy
thank you and keep going

idrak3 Jan 08 2010

I already bookmark this site…
Awsome tutorial

maryk Jan 28 2010

thanks for the tutorial Jacob. contrary to what the others said, this tutorial will be extremely useful for many people who want to learn this stuff. after all, everyone was a newbie at some point.

amaca Feb 24 2010

I agree with maryk, “everyone was a newbie at some point”, and I believe every “advanced reader” IS a newbie at some point.

You did a great job for beginners and advanced readers–helping the beginners while inspiring the advanced ones.


Stacy Jun 03 2010

I think your idea of creating a label stating the level of the tutorial is great. It would be super helpful to be able to then sort the tutorials based on that level of difficulty. Personally, I’m not a total newbie, but I like seeing simple tutorials. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it is difficult to find well done tutorials when you are just starting out. Keep up the good work! :)

dobrio Jun 23 2010

Fantastic Tutorial!

nice article rely enjoyed it and opened my mind to design thanks :)

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