How to paint a gradient

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to paint a gradient

A gradient is the smooth blending of one colour with another by mixing the two, while it can also mean the gradation of a single colour. Gradients surround us in everyday life, and are widely used in fields such as advertising, as well being constantly present in nature on a daily basis. If you'd like to paint a sunset, it's important to know how to paint a gradient. So if you like painting and crafts, it's essential that you're familiar with this technique and know how to use it.

You'll need:
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Steps to follow:

Begin testing a basic gradient with a graphite pencil. Start by pressing down firmly with the pencil, starting with a dark shade and then progressively shading lighter until it's completely white with the absence of any colour.

How to paint a gradient - Step 1

If you prefer to work with colour, you can use art supplies that range from wooden pencils to watercolours, crayons, acrylics or oil paints. Just make sure to blend the colours.


To learn, we suggest you start by practicing withacrylic paint and thick poster board , about 300 grams specifically designed for acrylic and watercolour paints. You can find them in specialized art stores.

How to paint a gradient - Step 3

Experiment and play around with it as long as you need to. This way you'll have it mastered when you begin to paint on canvas.

How to paint a gradient - Step 4

Start by painting one colour at one end of the canvas, and another colour at the opposite end. Keep in mind that the central point where the two converge must have the same amount of each colour, and as you approach the edges, the colours on either side should be very intense and vivid.


Thin the paint with water if it's too thick, so it'll mix more easily. If you are using oil paints, you should thin your paint with linseed oil.


If you're a beginner, you can start by painting a colour wheel, to learn how to mix colours and improve your hand at gradients.


Once you master the basic gradient technique, you can draw objects and three-dimensional figures and shadow them, using gradients. This way you'll learn to give them depth and dimension.


You can paint gradients in skies and faces. In fact, any object exposed to light usually reflects a transition from shadows, or gradation.


Experiment with digital image processing software like Adobe Photoshop that lets you play around with filters and layers of gradient images. Learn how you can apply gradients that are diagonal, spherical, etc...


If you're unfamiliar with the program, you can check out some digital image processing programs such as Adobe Photoshop, that allows you to apply filters and layers of gradations to images. See how you can apply gradients diagonally, spherical, etc.

If you want to read similar articles to How to paint a gradient, we recommend you visit our Art & handicraft category.

  • Clean the brushes thoroughly if you don't want to mess up the gradient.

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