Gradient Controls

Most attributes that can be filled with a color can alternatively be filled with a gradient. Like color controls, gradient controls are a group of compound settings with a great deal of additional options and controls that appear when the disclosure triangle is clicked.

Figure. Collapsed gradient controls in Inspector.

Gradient Preset Pop-up Menu

When the gradient controls are collapsed, you can select a preset gradient from the Gradient preset pop-up menu.

To change the current gradient to a saved preset
  • Click the Gradient preset pop-up menu and select the gradient of your choice.

    The colors of the new gradient will be applied to the existing gradient type.

Gradient Editor

To customize or modify the gradient, you must expand the controls to reveal the gradient editor.

Figure. Inspector showing expanded gradient editor controls.

Controls in the Gradient Editor

Use the gradient editor to change the color, color position, number of colors, opacity, direction, and interpolation of a gradient. Click the disclosure triangle to reveal individual controls for each of the parameters. The color and opacity of a gradient can be animated.

  • Graphical controls: Three bars allow you to set the color, opacity, and spread of a gradient. The spread of color and opacity across the gradient can be adjusted by dragging a set of controls called tags. Selecting a tag activates additional controls in the gradient editor, including Color, Opacity, and Location sliders.
  • Color: A color well that sets the color of the selected color tag.
  • Opacity: A slider that sets the transparency of the selected opacity tag (in the graphical controls above). The opacity tags control the opacity/transparency of the gradient. You can add multiple opacity tags to create a gradient of varying levels of transparency. By default, the opacity of a gradient applied to text is 100%.

    Note: There is also an Opacity parameter (below the Angle parameter) that controls the opacity of the gradient as a whole.

  • Spread Control: A control (shaped like a small triangle) between each pair of color tags that sets where one color ends and the next begins.
  • Location: A slider that sets the location of the selected gradient color, opacity tag, or spread control.
  • Angle: Available in some gradients when Type is set to Linear, this dial/value slider changes the angle of the gradient.
  • Start: Value sliders that set the start position of the gradient. This parameter affects the gradient as a whole—colors and opacity. X position is the left value slider and Y position is the right value slider. Click the disclosure triangle to display the individual X and Y parameters.
    • X: Controls the X start position of the gradient.
    • Y: Controls the Y start position of the gradient.
  • End: Value sliders that set the end position of the gradient. This parameter affects the gradient as a whole—colors and opacity. X position is the left value slider and Y position is the right value slider. Click the disclosure triangle to display the individual X and Y parameters.
    • X: Controls the X end position of the gradient.
    • Y: Controls the Y end position of the gradient.
  • Feather: Use the slider or value field to soften the gradient fill. Positive values soften the shape outward; negative values soften the shape inward.

Using the Gradient Editor

The gradient editor is a flexible and powerful tool, allowing you to create a wide variety of custom styles.

To change the colors in a gradient
  1. Click the gradient disclosure triangle to show the gradient editor.

  2. To change the color of a color tag in the gradient editor, do one of the following:

    • Double-click a color tag.

      Figure. Color tag in the gradient editor.

      The Colors window appears. Use the Colors window to set a new color for the tag.

    • Click a color tag, then use the individual Red, Green, or Blue color channel slider.

      Figure. Gradient editor showing color controls when a tag is selected.
    • Click a color tag, then click the disclosure triangle to the immediate right of the color well to display the pop-up color palette. Drag the eyedropper in the palette to select a new color. Drag in the lower palette to set the tag to a grayscale color.

    • Click a color tag, then Control-click the color well to display the pop-up color palette.

    • Click a color tag, click the eyedropper tool, then click a color in the Canvas.

To move the position of a color tag or opacity tag
  1. Click the color tag or opacity tag you want to move.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Drag the tag left or right.

      Figure. Gradient editor showing a color tag being repositioned.
    • In the Location parameter, use the slider or value field to enter a specific value. A value of 100% is the rightmost position of the gradient, and a value of 0% is the leftmost position of the gradient.

To change the spread of the gradient color or opacity
  • Drag the small triangle between the color tag or opacity tag to change the location of the spread. The closer the spread control is to a tag, the sharper the color or opacity spread.

    The Location parameter is also updated as you move the spread control, indicating its position on the gradient.

    Figure. Gradient editor showing spread control.

    Note: The Spread control does not appear for color or opacity tags that are set to Linear or Constant.

To change the color or opacity tag interpolation
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click a tag, then choose Constant, Linear, or Continuous from the shortcut menu.

  • Click a tag, then choose Constant, Linear, or Continuous from the Interpolation pop-up menu.

To add a color tag to a gradient
  • To add a new color tag, position the pointer in the lower color bar where you want to add the new color, then click.

    A new color tag is added to the gradient.

    Figure. Gradient editor showing new color tag.

    Note: Although the colors, opacity, and position of the tags of a gradient can be animated, the number of color tags and opacity tags cannot.

To add an opacity tag
  • Position the pointer in the opacity bar where you want to add the new tag, then click.

    A new opacity tag is added to the gradient.

    Until the value is adjusted, the gradient opacity is 100%.

To duplicate a color or opacity tag
  • Option-drag the tag to its new position.

To remove a color or gradient tag from the gradient
  • Drag the tag away from the gradient bar.

    The tag is removed with a “poof.”

To change the opacity of a gradient color
  1. Click an opacity tag.

    The Opacity controls are enabled.

    Figure. Gradient editor showing opacity tag and Opacity controls.
  2. Use the slider or value field to change the value of the opacity.

    The gradient transparency reflects the new opacity values.

    Tip: The lower the percentage of the opacity, the greater the transparency.

Editing Color and Opacity Direction and Distribution

You can quickly reverse the direction or evenly distribute the gradient color and opacity tags.

To reverse the gradient color or opacity direction
  • Click the Reverse Tags icon next to the opacity or color gradient.

    Figure. Gradient editor showing Reverse Tags icons for opacity and color.

    The tags are reversed.

    Figure. Gradient editor showing reversed tags.
To evenly distribute the gradient color or opacity tags
  • Click the Distribute Tags icon next to the opacity or color gradient.

    Figure. Gradient editor showing Distribute Tags icons for opacity and color.
To change the direction of a shape’s gradient
  1. With the shape selected, click the disclosure triangle to show the gradient editor.

  2. Use the Start and End value sliders to change the direction of the gradient.

    The left value slider is X and the right value slider is Y.

Saving Gradient Presets

As with shape styles, once you have created a gradient, you can save it in the Library.

To save a gradient in the Library
  1. Select the object with the gradient you want to save.

  2. Choose Save Gradient from the Gradient preset pop-up menu.

    Figure. Gradient editor showing Gradient preset pop-up menu.
  3. In the Save Preset To Library dialog, type the name of the gradient.

    Figure. Save Preset to Library dialog.
  4. Click Save.

    The custom gradient appears in the Gradients category in the Library. Custom presets can be identified in the Library by the small user icon that appears in the lower-right corner of the larger gradient icon. The new gradient also appears in the Gradient preset pop-up menu.

Figure. Library window showing gradients including a custom gradient.

Like the preset gradients, a preview of the gradient appears in the Preview area when the gradient is selected in the stack.

Using the Onscreen Gradient Controls

Onscreen controls provide a more interactive way to edit a gradient’s color, location of the color tags and opacity tags, opacity, and start and end points. You can also use onscreen controls to add color tags and opacity tags, as well as change their interpolation.

Figure. Onscreen controls for gradients showing start triangle, color tag, opacity tag, and end triange.
To display the onscreen gradient controls
  • In the Canvas, Control-click the object with the applied gradient, then choose Edit Gradient from the shortcut menu.

    The onscreen controls appear.

To adjust the start and end gradient positions
  • To adjust the Start X and Y position of the gradient, drag the top triangle (at the end of the gradient line).

  • To adjust the End X and Y position of the gradient, drag the bottom triangle (at the end of the gradient line).

To change the location of the gradient tags
  • To change the location of the gradient color, drag the color tags along the gradient line.

  • To change the location of the gradient opacity, drag the opacity tags along the gradient line.

To remove a color or opacity tag
  • Drag the color tag or opacity tag away from the onscreen controls and release the mouse button.

To add a color tag
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click the gradient control line at the location you want the new tag, then choose Add Color Tag from the shortcut menu.

    Figure. Onscreen controls showing shortcut menu with Add Color Tag selected.
  • Double-click or Option-click the gradient control line at the location you want the new tag.

To duplicate a color or opacity tag
  • Option-drag the tag to its new position.

To change the color of a gradient tag
  • Control-click the tag, then drag the eyedropper in the pop-up color palette to select a new color. As you drag over the color spectrum, the gradient color is actively updated.

To add an opacity tag
Do one of the following:
  • Control-click the gradient control line at the location you want the new tag, then choose Add Opacity Tag from the shortcut menu. By default the new tag is set to 100% opacity.

  • Shift-Option-click the gradient control line at the location you want the new tag.

To change an opacity tag’s transparency
  • Control-click the tag, then drag the eyedropper in the pop-up palette to set a new opacity value for the tag. White represents more opaque values, progressively darker levels of gray represent decreasing opacity, and black represents complete transparency. As you drag over the spectrum, the gradient is actively updated.

To change a color tag’s interpolation
  • Control-click the line next to the tag, then choose Constant, Linear, or Continuous from the Color Interpolation submenu.

To change an opacity tag’s interpolation
  • Control-click the line next to the tag, then choose Constant, Linear, or Continuous from the Opacity Interpolation submenu.

To reverse the direction of the color gradient
  • Control-click the gradient control line, then choose Reverse Color from the shortcut menu.

To reverse the direction of the opacity gradient
  • Control-click the gradient control line, then choose Reverse Opacity from the shortcut menu.

To evenly distribute the gradient color tags
  • Control-click the gradient control line, then choose Distribute Color from the shortcut menu.

To evenly distribute the gradient opacity tags
  • Control-click the gradient control line, then choose Distribute Opacity from the shortcut menu.

To apply a preset gradient style
  • Control-click the gradient control line, choose Presets from the shortcut menu, and then choose a preset style from the list.

To remove an opacity tag or a color tag
  • Drag the tag away from the gradient onscreen controls and release the mouse button.