Adobe InDesign CC Gradient Basics

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 A gradient is a blend of two or more colors or of two tints of the same color. Well-chosen gradients add depth and dimension to your layouts, but using too many gradients can cause confusion for the viewer. You can apply gradients to fills and strokes in Adobe InDesign CC using the Gradient tool and the Gradient panel. The tools that Adobe InDesign CC gives the operator also include the Swatches panel.  

The default gradient in InDesign is black to white, but many other gradients are possible.

Create a Gradient Swatch With the Swatches Panel

Adobe recommends creating new gradients using the Swatches panel, where you can create a new gradient, name it and edit it. Later, you'll apply your new gradient with the Gradient tool. To create a new gradient in the Swatches panel:

  1. Go to the Swatches panel and select New Gradient Swatch.
  2. Add a name for the swatch in the field provided.
  3. Choose either Linear or Radial
  4. For the Stop Color, select Swatches and pick a color from the list or mix a new unnamed color for the gradient by choosing a color mode and dragging the sliders or by entering color values. 
  5. Change the last color stop by clicking it and then repeating the same process as you followed in Step 4.
  6. Drag the color stops under the bar to adjust the position of the colors. Drag the diamond above the bar to adjust the location at which the colors are at 50 percent each.
  7. Click Add or OK to store the new gradient in the Swatches panel.

Create or Edit a Gradient Swatch With the Gradient Panel

The Gradient panel can also be used to create gradients. It is handy when you don't need a named gradient and don't plan to reuse the gradient often. It works similarly to the Swatches panel. The Gradient panel is also used to edit an existing named gradient for only one item. In that case, the change does not occur for every item using that gradient.

  1. Click on the object with the gradient you want to change or that you want to add a new gradient to.
  2. Click the Fill or Stroke box at the bottom of the Toolbox.
  3. Open the Gradient panel by clicking Window > Color > Gradient or by clicking the Gradient tool in the Toolbox.
  4. Pick a color for the starting point of the gradient by clicking the leftmost color stop below the bar and then dragging a swatch from the Swatches panel or creating a color in the Color panel. If you are editing an existing gradient, make adjustments until you achieve the effect you want.
  5. Select a new color or edit the color for the last stop in the same manner as in the previous step.
  6. Drag the color stops and the diamond to adjust the gradient.
  7. Enter an angle if desired.
  8. Select Linear or Radial.

Apply the gradient to an object in your document as you edit it, so you can see exactly how the gradient will appear.

Use the Gradient Tool to Apply a Gradient

Now that you have created a gradient, apply it by selecting an object in the document, clicking on the Gradient tool in the Toolbox and then clicking and dragging across the object—from top to bottom or side to side or in whichever direction you want the gradient to go.

The Gradient tool applies whichever type of gradient is selected in the Gradient panel.

You can reverse a gradient by clicking on the item which has the gradient and then clicking on Reverse in the Gradient panel.

To apply the same gradient to multiple items at the same time.

  • Select all the items.
  • Click on the Fill box or Stroke box in the Toolbox.
  • Select the Gradient tool and place it at the beginning point of the gradient. Drag the pointer across the object to apply the gradient chosen in the Gradient panel. Each object receives its own gradient and each of the gradients starts from the middle of each object.

Changing the Mid Points on Gradients

In the Gradient panel, the middle point between the two colors of a gradient is where you have 50 percent of one color and 50 percent of the other color. If you create a gradient with three colors, then you have two middle points.

If you have a gradient that goes from yellow to green to red, you have a middle point between yellow and green and another one between the green and the red. You can change the location of those points by dragging the location sliders along the gradient slider.

You cannot adjust these settings with the Gradient tool.