Sunday, March 27, 2011

Creating Abstract Backgrounds with the Gradient Tool - Tutorial

Recently I came across an interesting podcast tutorial over on the website for Layers Magazine showing how to create Gradient Backgrounds and had to give it a try.  I spent hours playing around with this process and created a large selection of background which I posted over on my deviantART account for free downloading.

I like to take funky backgrounds and use them as a coloring layer or to add cool effects in my Photoshop projects.

Sunset scene using one of my Gradient Backgrounds
 Here is a project using PaperWhimsy products a Victorian die cut rabbit image
and the below pictured EKD Gradient Background.
(Listing of products for this framed scene will be given below the Gradient Background Tutorial).

This EKD Gradient Background was used in the above scene to
color the background image and is the subject of today's post.

 Here is a Photoshop screen shot of how I used my Gradient created background 
to color the PaperWhimsy image scene that is the background image of my projects.

Here is how I created the Gradient Background.

There are many ways to do things in Photoshop.
This is the just the steps I took to create my background.

Creating Gradient Backgrounds using this process is fun to do 
since you never know what your end result will be.

I started by creating a NEW Document in Photoshop.
I made it a 12 x 12 inch area at 300dpi.
Color Mode was set to RGB and 8 bit 
so I could later save it as a jpeg file.

Next I selected my Gradient Tool,
found a gradient pattern I liked,
choose the Radial pattern and 
changed the Mode to Difference.

Then it was just a matter of using the gradient toll to draw lines 
across the page and watch the magic. 

Playing with the gradient options, where you place your strokes 
and the length of those strokes will alter your results.  
No two backgrounds are ever the same.

My 1st stroke went from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.
This is what the background looked like when I was done with that stroke.
The green line is just to show the direction and length of the stroke I made with the gradient tool.

My 2nd stroke when in the opposite direction and the colors became darker.
This will continue through the process. On the even number of passes the colors 
will be dark like this and on the odd they will be lighter in color.

My 3rd pass is shown with the green arrow and the resulting 
background is starting to get more complex.

My 4th pass with the gradient tool.

For the 5th pass I made a slight change in the settings.
I changed the Gradient Pattern type from Radial to Reflected.
This gave me some interesting lines to mix in with my circular patterns.

This was the 6th pass and I'm still using the Reflected Gradient setting.

The 7th pass, I went back to the Radial setting and made
a short stroke as shown by the green arrow.
When that was done, this is what the background looked like.

 The 8th pass looked like this after following the path of the green arrow.
The shorter the stroke when using the Radial setting the more evident the bulls-eye will be.

The 9th and final pass I made was straight across about 3/4 of the way down.
I like the effect I had and went ahead and stopped here.

The finished EKD Gradient Background 

Many of the Gradient Backgrounds I have posted over on my
EveyD deviantART account
have 20+ passes to get my final effect.

Currently I have about 22 of these type of background posted and
ready to download so drop by deviantART and check them out.

I was inspired to create this and other backgrounds like it from the 
Ask Dave Podcast on Layers Magazine website.
Click HERE for link.


Now to finish off the framed Project

 The Girl, Scenic Background and Frame are all from PaperWhimsy.
The Bunny is a Victorian paper scrap image I have in my collection.

All the PaperWhimsy images I used came from their
Hybrid Images - Digital Artists line of images.

 The Maiden 03 - from PaperWhimsy's Beautiful Faces Collection

 I removed the background and colored the image in Photoshop.
Click HERE to see my previous post on this process.

The Country 03 - from PaperWhimsy's Beautiful Places Collection

I used my Gradient Background to color this image in my project.

Pastel Frame - from PaperWhimsy's Elements Collection

 I turned the image on it's side and used only the outer portion
of this frame around my scene.
I made a few FX changes in Photoshop to this layer of my project.
 Drop Shadow - Inner Shadow - Bevel and Emboss

Victorian Paper Scrap Bunny
I removed the backgrounds in Photoshop before adding him to my scene.

With everything put together this was my final scene.

Thanks for dropping by to take a look at my latest creation.
I hope you drop back in again soon.

Grins and Giggles,


  1. Your blog is fantastic Evelyn!
    Great tutorials and art!

  2. Thanks Julia - I love your blog and look forward to using some of your amazing dolls in future posts. Thanks for creating them and adding more grins and giggles to my day!

  3. Hi there, I love your blog. I was wondering if your work is all done with Photoshop? I hear it is a very difficult progam to use. Your work comes out beautiful though. If you have time, stop by my blog to say hi.

  4. Thanks so much Francine.
    Yes, My digital work is done in Photoshop.

    My goal for 2011 was to finally learn how to use Photoshop and it has been an interesting process. I've got 4 months of trial and error under my belt so far and it is a complex program to learn. I'll probably never master a great majority of it but I sure am having fun creating based on what I've learned so far.
    I think it has been worth the time and effort.

    I look forward to checking out your blog.

    Grins and Giggles,

  5. I love that tinted sort of colour. Great background. It was wonderful to learn how to do it and play around with it. I added your badge to my blog. Thanks.

    1. Hey Jody - Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed the post. I look forward to checking out your blog as well, it looks really cool!