How to Make a Custom Gradient in GIMP

Create your own gradients for GIMP

The free graphic editing software GIMP includes a powerful gradient editor. For example, you can produce a simple gradient that blends from red to green to blue, or you can build more complex gradients with multiple colors.

Instructions in this article apply to GIMP version 2.10 for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

How to Open the Gradient Editor in GIMP

To access the GIMP Gradient Editor:

  1. Go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Gradients to open the Gradients dialog and see the full list of gradients that come pre-installed in GIMP.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Gradients dialogue option highlighted
  2. Right click anywhere in the list and select New Gradient to open the Gradient Editor.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the New Gradient command highlighted
  3. The Gradient Editor displays a simple gradient when it's first opened, blending from black to white. Below this preview, you'll see black triangles at each edge that represents the position of the two colors used.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the gradient position arrows highlighted
  4. In between is a white triangle that marks the midpoint of the blend between the two colors. Moving this to the left or right will change the gradient from one color to the other.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the gradient slider highlighted

  5. At the top of the Gradient Editor is a field where you can name your gradients so that you can find them more easily later.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the gradient title field highlighted

How to Create a Gradient in GIMP

To create a gradient that goes from red to green to blue:

  1. Right click anywhere in the gradient preview window and select Left Endpoint's Color.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Left Endpoint's Color command highlighted
  2. Select a color and click OK in the dialog that opens.

    A screenshot of the Left Endpoint Color window in GIMP with the OK button highlighted
  3. Right click the preview again and select Right Endpoint's Color.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Right Endpoint's Color command highlighted
  4. Select another color and click OK.

    A screenshot of the Right Endpoint Color window in GIMP with the OK button highlighted
  5. You've now created a gradient with two colors and their average in the middle, but you can also add a different hue for the midpoint. To do so, right-click the preview and select Split Segment at Midpoint. Each side will now be treated as a separate gradient.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the
  6. You'll see a black triangle in the center of the bar below the preview, and there are now two white midpoint triangles on either side of the new central marker.

    When you click the bars on either side of the center triangle, that part of the bar is highlighted, indicating that it is the active segment. Any edits you make will only apply to this segment.

    A screenshot of GIMP with a split gradient highlighted
  7. Click the bar to left of the center black triangle, then right click and select Right Endpoint's Color.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the
  8. Select a third color from the dialog (different from your first two) and click OK.

    Note the number in the HTML notation field so that you can select the same color later.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the HTML notation for a color highlighted
  9. Select the right segment, then right click and select Left Endpoint's Color.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Left Endpoint's Color command highlighted
  10. Pick the same shade of green from the dialog and click OK.

    A screenshot of GIMP's Left Endpoint Color window with the OK button highlighted
  11. You can split one of the segments and introduce another color. Keep repeating this step until you've produced an even more complex gradient.

How to Use a Custom Gradient

You can apply your gradient to documents using the Blend tool. To test it out:

  1. Go to File > New to open a blank document. The size isn't important since this is just a test.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the New command highlighted
  2. Select the Blend tool from the Tools dialog.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Blend tool highlighted
  3. Make sure your newly-created gradient is selected in the Gradients dialog.

    A screenshot of GIMP with a custom gradient highlighted
  4. Click the left side of the canvass and drag the cursor to the right.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Blend tool applying a gradient
  5. Press Enter. The document will now be filled with your gradient.

    Press Enter to fill the canvass with your gradient.