Applying Gradients to Shape Layers

When you create a shape using the pen or shape tools, by default the clipping path is filled with a solid color. However, suppose that you want to fill it with a gradient? You have three choices, and, no, the Gradient tool is not one of them, because it cannot be used on a shape layer without first rasterizing the layer.

■ You can apply a gradient layer effect after you have created a shape filled with color.

■ You can create a layer style that uses just a gradient and then select it as a style in the options bar for whichever tool you are using to draw the shape.

■ You can create the shape as a path and then fill a new layer with a gradient and have it clipped to the shape of the path.

To add a layer effect, take the following steps:

1. Double-click the layer tile to call up the Layer Style dialog box.

2. Click Gradient Overlay.

3. Click the downward-pointing triangle by the side of the gradient preview pop-up and select a gradient from the Gradient chooser.

4. Click the OK button to exit the dialog box and to apply the effect.

To save a layer style so that you can select it in the options bar before you draw a shape, take the following steps:

1. Choose a gradient in the Layer Style dialog box as previously described.

2. Save it as a new Layer Style by clicking the New Style button. Alternatively, rather than choose from preset gradients, click the gradient bar, create a new gradient in the Gradient Editor when it pops up, and then save it as a new style.

When you exit the dialog box, the style will be available to the pen and shape tools from the options bar. Select it before you draw a shape. You can also select it at any time after you have drawn the shape, as long as the vector mask is selected.

To create the shape as a path and then fill the layer with a gradient, take the following steps:

1. Use the pen or shape tools to create a closed path by choosing the Paths option for the tool from the options bar.

2. Choose Layer ^ New Fill Layer ^ Gradient.

3. In the New Layer dialog box, name the layer for good measure and click the OK button.

4. In the Gradient Fill dialog box (Figure 10-11), click the downward-pointing triangle by the gradient preview pop-up and choose a suitable gradient.

Gradient Fill

Gradient: W:

1'

i OK 9

Style: Linear '

Cancel

Angle: I 90

_

Scale. 100

□ Reverse _J Dither

5! Align with layer

Figure 10-11: The Gradient Fill dialog box. Click the highlighted arrow to access the Gradient chooser.

5. Select a Style, Angle, Scale, Reverse, or Dither option (the Dither option reduces banding by applying dithering to the gradient) as required and then click the OK button to exit.

The layer is clipped to the shape of the path and a new gradient filled shape layer is created for you. The keen-eyed might have noticed that at step 2 you can choose to fill the path with a solid color or a pattern. It's something to store for future use when thinking creatively.

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