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Bas relief filter and creating gradients in Photoshop tutorial

How to create amazing gradients using bas relief filter in Photoshop tutorial

bas relief and gradients filter and photoshop tutorial

Tutorial on the Photoshop bas relief filter and how to create amazing gradients. Bas relief filter is a powerful tool to be applied to any image but use it with an empty image and it can be used to create very basic gradients in seconds and much more. The bas relief filter uses the foreground and background colors in the Photoshop toolbar to generate the gradient. The gradients can be any set of two colors.

  1. new document and set the foreground to black and background to white for the initial bas relief effect and gradient

  2. filter menu

  3. filter gallery

  4. sketch and bas relief

  5. detail 1 and smoothness 15

  6. light (any direction)

  7. ok and there you have a gradient. Not much different from a normal gradient but still a gradient. Change the foreground and background color if you wish

  8. go back into the filter gallery and bas relief and change the light direction

  9. click OK

  10. edit menu and fade and set mode to overlay or difference etc (you will notice some banding but a blur will blur that away)

  11. edit menu and fade

You can use the edit menu and fade to apply the bas relief filter to create a gradient in Photoshop and then blend with another underlying gradient and so on. You can apply the bas relief filter to create many different combinations of gradients using that method. Another approach is to use layers and then apply the bas relief to a layer and create a gradient. The gradient layer can then be blended with multiple different colorful bas relief gradient layers in Photoshop. You can do the same with selections and the bas relief gradient applied to that. You can also use selections to create quadrant gradients and half image gradients with the bas relief. This tutorial shows you how to use the bas relief settings and foreground background and combine those to create all kinds of super colorful gradients in Photoshop.


The quality will get worse and worse as you apply the bas relief more and more. You can now repeat the same application of the bas relief with a new gradient and changing of the foreground and background and change the direction of light if you wish

You can always use layers with bas relief and then combine those with blending modes

bas relief and gradient layers in Photoshop

A slightly different approach is to create a number of layers such as duplicate the background and then apply the bas relief to create a gradient for each layer and then blend those layers using different blending modes such as lighten etc for each of the layers

  1. duplicate background layer and repeat multiple times

  2. hide the layers you don't want

  3. change foreground and background

  4. select a layer and apply bas relief and change the light direction

  5. repeat for other layers

  6. change the blending modes etc


One thing about doing it via a layer is that the bas relief gradient layer can be removed or made invisible as well as the size can be changed and also the layers can be any size and also you can change the blending mode of the bas relief gradients

You can also use smart objects and the bas relief as a smart filter

  1. use marquee tool and select a circle and copy and paste

  2. set the foreground and background color

  3. layer menu and convert to smart object

  4. apply the bas relief via the filter gallery as before with a certain light direction


Unfortunately there is not blending mode between smart filters and the fade is not available but you can add adjustments via the image menu and adjustments such as hue and saturation. It is a pity that the filters in Photoshop do not contain the blending mode within the tool (the Andrew's plugins on this do and also applications such as Affinity Photo and live filter layers also contain the blending modes)


You can combine multiple smart object layers with bas relief gradients. You can add the bas relief gradient effect to custom shapes.

Bas relief filter can be applied to a selection to create even more interesting designs

bas relief and gradients and selections

You can also use the bas relief filter to create gradients with selections. You can use any design as a source for the selection / mask.


  1. custom shapes tool + select a shape

  2. set the color to black and set the shape option to pixels

  3. select the quick mask in the Photoshop toolbar

  4. apply shape across entire design

  5. set the colors for the bas relief: foreground and background in Photoshop

  6. exit quick mask

  7. Apply bas relief using settings as before such as maximum smoothness

  8. select and inverse

  9. set the colors if you wish and then re-apply the bas relief filter via the filter gallery command

  10. set the light direction to the opposite (if you wish) direction such as bottom left / top right

  11. deselect

  12. You can then re-apply the bas relief (with different colors etc).

You can use selections to create interesting quadrant gradient effects

You can also just create very basic selections such as selection one half of the image and add the effect to that and then inverse the selection and apply the bas relief again to the other side (such as in the image on the left)

  1. select area

  2. apply bas relief

  3. change colors

  4. select and inverse

  5. go to the filter gallery and bas relief and change the light direction

You can also just repeat the selections and perhaps use quadrants instead but instead of select inverse, just shift the selection to another quadrant and apply the bas relief for the gradient

Other tutorials

1. Cutout filter for Photoshop tutorial and interesting abstract art designs

Sources and references

1. Bas relief filter on Adobe