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How to use Photoshop gradients and layer styles Tutorial

photoshop gradients layer effects

How to use Photoshop gradients and layer effects includes overlays, strokes styles for tutorial. Photoshop gradients can be used throughout layer styles / layer effects in Photoshop CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 CS4 etc on the PC and MAC. The layer styles that use gradients include gradient overlays, strokes, inner glow, outer glow as well as pattern (if you use the gradient as a source for patterns). You can use the gradients in a Photoshop style / layer style once or multiple times. You can also do the same with the stroke as well as glows. The gradients can be used to shape layers as well as type layers and normal layers. You can also use blending modes to blend the different gradients in the layer style such as using difference and darken.

The gradient layer styles can be in radial and linear and reflected and diamond and angled. The gradient layer styles in Photoshop can be used on multiple layers. The gradients and layer styles can be further modified by using Photoshop plugin effects. This tutorial shows how to use gradients with Photoshop layer styles and effects such as adding multiple gradient overlays to artworks.

  1. select a layer

  2. go to layer menu

  3. layer style command

  4. select gradient overlay, stroke etc

  5. change settings of the layer style in Photoshop for shape

  6. click OK

Photoshop gradients and Layer effects / styles

rounded darken

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$7.79 (also GBP, etc) per set GRD format download


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You can use the Photoshop gradients in the stunning color effects in the layer effects' gradient overlay, glow and stroke settings.


To display the overlay etc you first have to be on a layer and select the layer menu layer styles panel and in that you will see a number of panels such as overlay, pattern, bevel, stroke etc though this list will vary depending on the items added or removed and there may be more than one or two entries for the shadow / overlay etc (this only applies to the latest versions of Photoshop / creative cloud).


It may be the case that the gradient overlay is not even on the styles panel list so you will have to go to the bottom of the panel list and select the 'fx' dropdown and you can then select one of those options such as adding a gradient overlay. Goto the gradient panel you will see a number of different controls on the panel such as gradient style, etc. The gradient style can be changed from linear to radial and angle etc. Each layer style panel has its own way of using the presets.


Once you have a panel with a gradient option (the list of the panels with the gradients is below) you can select any of the available Photoshop gradients. The gradients may be the default set of gradients but you can always add other gradients such as your own or ones from this site


You can also just go to the styles panel entry at the top left of the layer styles dialog and select one of the presets, these maybe one of the default preset styles or perhaps one of your own styles

Layer effects / styles - gradient overlay

rounded darken style

The layer effects / styles dialog has a number of options. The overlay can be applied using different style such as linear, radial, diamond, angle and reflected; the angle and opacity and blending modes can also be changed. With the most recent version you can now more than one overlay via the '+' on the panel and you can then blend those. When you add more than one overlay, if you want to see the items below you will have to work in the order of the layers within the panel so it is no use working with any overlays lower down if the blending mode or opacity prevents that overlay being actually seen.


You can add up to 10 overlays and use the blending modes such as darken or lighten or difference etc or set the opacity to 50% etc. You can use the same style such as linear etc throughout or you can combine multiple different styles in the panel so one can be radial and one can be linear etc.


You can use the same preset as well as different presets and perhaps from different preset libraries.

  1. select a custom shape

  2. layer menu and layer style

  3. gradient overlay

  4. gradient

  5. set the style

  6. set scale and angle etc

  7. click '+" add another gradient overlay

  8. set blending mode to difference

  9. select a different gradient

  10. change the angle / length etc

  11. OK

Layer effects / styles - stroke

using shapeburst with the stroke layer effects style

The stroke can be set to color and pattern and gradient. The GRD option also allows for a variety of types such as shapeburst as well as the normal ones such as linear. If you use the smart object option (for the layer) you can generate multiple layer effects for the same shape layer, multiple strokes, too. To use them in the layer effects' stroke option and the shapeburst, it is best to set the size to a large value

  1. select a vector shape in Photoshop

  2. layer menu and layer style

  3. stroke

  4. set size

  5. set position outside

  6. set style to shapeburst

  7. set fill type to gradient

  8. click '+' to add a new stroke

  9. set the size to larger than the previous

  10. set the gradient to a new gradient for the new stroke

  11. OK

Layer effects / styles - inner glow

inner glow and gradients styles photoshopThe inner glow can be applied to create interesting fills for any shapes / layers in Adobe ® Photoshop ®. You can set the source / choke / size of the inner glow for the preset.


You can also modify the inner glow by using the contour option which can tighten or stretch the preset (it is a pity that the stroke and other options cannot access the useful contour options).


You can also set the blend mode for the inner glow (luminosity etc) and these can also be used to create interesting layer effects combined with other options.

  1. select a shape

  2. layer

  3. layer style

  4. inner glow

  5. set opacity

  6. set gradient

  7. set size

  8. set source such as edge

  9. OK

Layer effects / styles - outer glow

outer glow photoshop gradients layer style

The opposite of the inner glow. The difference is that the outer glow is influenced by the background as well as other layers. You can combine multiple shape layers with the same presets (as outer glows) or different ones to create many wonderful images.

  1. select a shape in Photoshop

  2. layer and layer style command

  3. outer glow

  4. select gradient

  5. blend mode 'normal'

  6. set size

  7. set contour

  8. OK

Additional work with the Photoshop gradients

You can, of course, take the presets and turn them into a pattern and as a pattern it means they can be used in other areas of the styles panel such as the texture section for the bevel.


A very basic preset probably won't work but you can always combine multiple presets using blending modes (using a large document) to create a very complex and intricate artwork and perhaps combine with effects such as poster edges or noise and then define that as a pattern (albeit not a seamless one) and then use that as a texture or perhaps as a pattern overlay which can also be combined with the main overlay

Other tutorials

1. How to use the Photoshop gradient maps adjustments feature

Sources and references

1. Color gradients on wikipedia