As most people are aware, fashion has a tendency to repeat itself and so it is with gradients. Although they were common back in the late 90s, gradients saw a dip in popularity over the millennium as people preferred a flatter design style. These days though, gradients are back with a bang!
From backgrounds to logos, gradients are being incorporated throughout the design world. They add depth and dynamism to your artwork and are really helpful in building the right mood. People love how gradients can bridge the gap between completely flat designs and a more skeuomorphic style. We even mentioned how complex gradients are a top trend for 2019 in our prediction blog.
Today, we’re going to talk you through how to create stunning gradients of your own as well as how you can bring gradients into your design work more.
Building Your Gradient
The secret to a good gradient lies in the colours you choose. You need colours that match the brand personality but also colours that work together and produce a smooth transition.
Gradients can blend between any number of colours, if you like. However, effective gradients tend to stick to just two, or three maximum. Take a look at these different variations…
If your client for has one, core colour for their brand, a monochrome gradient might be the way to go. Single tone gradients build a transition around just one colour and its different shades. This is particularly useful in creating a sense of depth.
To make things a little more dynamic, add a second colour to your gradient! Adding colours means you can create more interesting moods, whether you’re going for something soft and calming or something wild and exciting.
You should be careful, however, when choosing two colours that are far away from each other on the colour wheel. Building a gradient between a small range on the colour wheel keeps the transition nice and smooth – as you can see in our first example. Taking your colour stops too far apart though can make the blend seem muddy (see example 2).
To avoid this, think about adding in a third colour stop as we’ll discuss next…
Sometimes your client’s brand personality requires something bolder – a clash of colours can add some real energy to your piece. That’s where adding multiple stops can come in useful!
That’s because, if your colour stops are too far apart, you’ll end up with a grey, murky blend in between. To avoid this, simply add more colour stops in between to encourage a much smoother transition. You’ll find this keeps your colours nice and strong.
When it’s time to select your colours, look to nature. There are beautiful gradients all around us and they’re a sure-fire way to find colour combinations that work.
5 Ways to Include Gradients
Let’s start off simple. Gradient backgrounds have to be the most unobtrusive way to bring gradients into your work. You can place all your usual design elements over the top while still creating a design with intrigue and allure.
Still relatively simple, overlays bring the gradient forward. Instead of placing it behind everything, create a partially transparent overlay to put on top of your images. This is a brilliant way to capture and amplify the mood of your artwork.
Moving away from such open-ended design elements, typography gives you a more specific outlet for gradients if you so choose. It can actually create a really dramatic contrast to have such colourful text, or other fine design elements, on a monochrome background.
Another way to spice things up is to actually break your gradient down into component colours. In this example, the designer has chosen strips of colour, creating a banded effect. But this can be done with squares, triangles, or any geometric shape. Plus, you could break things up even further by introducing gaps between the colours too. Have fun with it!
Finally, the real showstopper move is to use gradients to create a complete motif. This is particularly popular within logo design and iconography. The use of angle gradients form the shape’s contours without the need for explicit borders and lines, bringing your design to life.
Gradients is one of the biggest design trends around right now but there’s another one that people are loving too – geometry. Find inspiration with our 12 ways to Use Geometry in Graphic Design.