How to Make a Gradient Overlay in Adobe Photoshop

Sep 05, 2020 at 12:47 pm by -gToon

Create an artistic color design for a photo silhouette by adding a gradient overlay to a black-and-white photo.

Start from scratch, or download practice files [] for a head start. Steps below.

Prep your files:

1. Choose File – Open to open the practice file.

Tip: This technique works best on high-contrast photos such as the black-and-white photo in the practice files.

2. Choose the Magic Wand (W) and click to select the black dress.

Tip: Press and hold the Quick Selection tool if you do not see the Magic Wand.

Add a gradient:

1. Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon on the Layers (Window – Layers) panel.
2. Choose Gradient.
3. Review the gradient presets then choose the one you like. Click OK.

Tip: We chose the Red_06 orange-to-purple preset from the Reds category on the Gradient Editor dialog.

Customize the gradient:

1. Click the Gradient preview to open the Gradient Editor.
2. Click the Opacity stop and lower the Opacity. We set it to 27%
3. Move the color stops and Color Midpoints to get the look you want.

Tip: We moved the middle and right stops to the left.

4. Click OK.

Note: The Gradient Fill adjustment creates a layer mask above the model layer, filling the selected area of the photo with the color gradient.

Refine the edges:

1. Click the mask thumb of the Gradient Fill in the Layers panel.
2. Choose the Brush (B) tool, set it to a soft round edge and paint with black to reveal the top part of the dress.

Tip: We used a large, soft round brush.

3. Use a smaller brush, set to white, to refine the edge of the selection or to reveal parts of the gradient you accidentally hid.
4. For a subtle color correction, click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon and choose Solid Color.
5. Add a solid purple color adjustment layer over the image and click OK.
6. Lower the Opacity (we used 15%) for the new adjustment layer.

That's it!

To learn more, check out our Companion Tutorial:


Sign up for our newsletter

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience possible More Info
Got it!