Photoshop: Satin Background Using Gradient Tool – revisited

The original post for this project was done way back in August of last year so I thought I would revisit it with a few minor changes.

This is a great effect that I’ve used on several projects to do backgrounds. Probably the best part about it is that it is so quick, only takes me about 15 seconds to do one.

1. Create a new document in Photoshop, doesn’t really matter what size, this technique works universally.

2. Fill your background layer with white to start. You can change this later on but depending on how you use your Gradient tool, it might not matter.

3. Create a new layer. This is a rule of thumb for me. I always work in additional layers and try not to touch my background layer if I can avoid it. At this point you should change your foreground color to whatever color you want to have as your background. The highlights of your background will only be as bright as the color you select, so don’t go too dark. I use shades that are roughly in the middle, saturated reds, blues and greens work best.

4. Grab your Gradient tool in the tool bar. Change its settings to the following:

  • Set gradient slider to “Foreground to Transparent
  • Select the Linear Gradient thumbnail
  • Mode: Difference
  • Opacity: 50%
  • The checkboxes should be set for Dither and Transparency

Your settings should look something like this:

5. Now we get to the fun part. Start dragging your gradient at different angles and from different starting points all around your image. The first few times it won’t look like much but after a bit you will see the texture of the folds appear.
It’s a matter of personal preference how much you do this, just keep in mind that the more you use your Gradient tool here, the darker your image will become. Your final result might look a little like this, but the angles and starting points for the Gradient tool really control what your image will look like.

If the color isn’t quite to your liking, grab the Hue/Saturation palette under Image/Adjustments and change it up.

That’s about all there is to it. It’s a quick and easy process that with a little practice, might suit you well for simple but interesting backgrounds.


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