Use the Gradient Tool to fill images, layers, or selections with smooth multiple-color blends called gradients. A simple gradient is usually made of two colors that fade into each other, but there are also more advanced gradients that consist of many colors and that even include transparency. You can use gradients to add colorful backgrounds behind objects, create shadows, create a metallic feel, or to create more depth in images. Combined with other tools, the Gradient Tool can help you create stunning artistic pictures.
Create a new image in your preferred size using Pixelmator. Choose File > New. In the New dialog, select an image size and click OK.
Click to select the Gradient Tool in the Tools palette. The Gradient Tool icon will become bigger so you know that this is the tool you are using now.
To paint with the Gradient Tool, choose the gradient preset in the Tool Options bar. Click the gradient well and choose the preset from the popover that appears. To follow the tutorial, select the rainbow color gradient.
To start painting, click anywhere on the image to set the starting point. Then, move the pointer to another location and click again to set the end point. Closer end point creates shorter gradients, while a more distant end point produces a smoother, longer gradient.
All gradient presets have types that allow you to change how each gradient is painted. To change the gradient type, bring up the Gradients palette (View > Show Gradients). Then, select one of the gradient type radio buttons: Linear, Radial, or Angle.
You can also change the overall look of the gradient. Each gradient consists of two or more color stops that help you change the gradient look. You can easily add more colors, or remove, reposition, or change colors for any of the color stops. For example, select the blue gradient preset (the first preset in the top-left of the Gradients palette).
Selected gradient preset has two color stops below the slider and a midpoint stop that defines where the colors should blend. You can start changing the gradient by moving its color stops along the slider.
Next, try changing gradient colors. Click any of the color stops. The Colors palette will appear. Click any color in the Colors palette and the color stop will immediately change the color of the gradient. You can also change the transparency of the gradient color by moving the Opacity slider in the Colors palette.
Next, try adding a new color stop. The more color stops the gradient has, the more varied in color it can be. To add a color stop, move the pointer over to the gradient slider until a plus sign appears next to the pointer. Then click. The new color stop will appear right where you’ve clicked. To remove a color stop, simply drag it out of the Gradients palette.
The gradient below was created with two light blue color stops with dark blue in the middle. You can download the gradient here to have a look.
You can also reverse how gradient colors are painted. To do that, click the Action menu in the Tool Options bar and choose Reverse Direction. This will temporarily change how color stops are painting the gradient. If you want to permanently reverse gradient colors, Control-click the gradient slider and choose Reverse Color Stops from the menu.
Once you played around with the gradient options and like what you’ve created, you can save it as a new gradient preset. To do that, click the Action menu in the Gradients palette and select Add Gradient. Your newly created gradient will be added to the palette.
To remove a gradient preset from the Gradients palette, click the Action menu in the Gradients palette and choose Remove Gradient.
You can also export gradients you create (or import more gradients). To export a gradient, simply drag it from the Gradients palette onto your Desktop. The exported gradient’s icon will show a preview of the exported gradient.
This covers pretty much all of the options for the Gradient Tool. The Pixelmator community has created some awesome gradient presets that you can download and import to your Gradients palette, and, of course, if you create some lovely gradients of your own, you can share them with others!