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InDesign: Applying Gradients

Version: Adobe InDesign 2020. Be aware that different versions of InDesign will vary in appearance and functionality. Full Guide: View/Download

A gradient is a gradual blend between two or more colors. Gradients can be applied anywhere that color can, including as a Fill or Stroke. See InDesign: Drawing Shapes for more details about adding shapes.

To apply a gradient:
  1. Create an element to apply the gradient. Then, select it.
  2. Look at the fill and stroke colors at the bottom of the toolbar. Fill is the solid square, and stroke is the outline. Click the Fill so that its in front of the stroke, which will ensure that its active.

  3. Select the Gradient Swatch Tool from the Toolbar.

  4. Open the Gradient panel from the right of the interface. If it isnt an option, navigate to Window > Gradient.

  5. In the Gradient panel, click the Type drop-down and select either Linear or Radial. If the desired element was selected and the Fill color active, a black-and-white gradient will apply to the element.

  6. Open the Swatches panel for the Fill from the Option bar to the top of the interface.
  7. Click the New Swatch button to the bottom of the Swatches panel. A new, white-to-black gradient swatch will be created, named New Gradient Swatch.
  8. Double-click the new swatch. A new window will appear. Ensure the Preview box is checked.

  9. The Gradient Ramp to the bottom of the window has two tabs, called Stops, by default. A Stop is the point that the gradient changes from one color to the other. Click a Stop to set the color.
  10. Select the proper color space from the Stop Color drop-down. Use CYMK if the document is to be printed, and RGB for digital.
  11. Use the color sliders to choose a color. 
  12. Repeat the color selection process for each Stop.
  • To add more Stops to the gradient, click the Gradient Ramp. A new Stop will appear.
  • Click-and-drag the Stops to change their location on the gradient.
  • Click OK when done setting up the gradient swatch. The new gradient swatch can be applied to any element in the document as desired from the Swatches panel.

  • Basic gradient controls:
    • To change the direction of the gradient, With the Gradient Swatch Tool, click-and-drag a line through the element in the desired direction for the gradient. 
    • To adjust the colors of the gradient swatch, double-click it from a Swatches panel.

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