How to Make a Custom Gradient in GIMP

Create your own gradients for GIMP

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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.

    Go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Gradients to open the Gradients dialog.
  2. Right click anywhere in the list and select New Gradient to open the Gradient Editor.

    Right click anywhere in the list and select New Gradient to open the Gradient Editor.

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.

The Gradient Editor displays a simple gradient when it's first opened, blending from black to white.

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.

Move the white triangle to the left or right to make the change from one color to the other.

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.

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.

    Right click anywhere in the gradient preview window and select Left Endpoint's Color.
  2. Select a shade of red and click OK in the dialog that opens.

    Select a shade of red and click OK in the dialog that opens.
  3. Right click in the preview again and select Right Endpoint's Color.

    Right click in the preview again and select Right Endpoint's Color.
  4. Select a shade of blue and click OK.

    Now select a shade of blue and click OK.
  5. Right click on the preview and select Split Segment at Midpoint. Each side will now be treated as a separate gradient.

    Right click on the preview and select Split Segment at Midpoint.
  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. Click the bar to left of the center black triangle, then right click and select Right Endpoint's Color.

    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.

    Click the left segment so it's highlighted blue, then right click and select Right Endpoint's Color.
  7. Select a shade of green from the dialog and click OK.

    Note the number in the HTML notation field so that you can select the exact same color in step 9.

    Select a shade of green from the dialog and click OK.
  8. Select the right segment, then right click and select Left Endpoint's Color.

    Click the right segment and right click to select Left Endpoint's Color.
  9. Pick the same shade of green from the dialog and click OK.

    Pick the same shade of green from the dialog and click OK.
  10. 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.

    Go to File > New to open a blank document.
  2. Select the Blend tool from the Tools dialog.

    Select the Blend tool from the Tools dialog.
  3. Make sure your newly-created gradient is selected in the Gradients dialog.

    Make sure your newly-created gradient is selected in the Gradients dialog.
  4. Click on the left side of the canvass and move the cursor to the right while holding down the mouse button.

    Click on the left of the document and move the cursor to the right while holding the mouse button down.
  5. Press Enter. The document will now be filled with your gradient.

    Press Enter to fill the canvass with your gradient.