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How to Make a Gradient in Affinity Designer
  • By Design Bundles
  • 28 May 2021
  • 25 Mins
  • Affinity Tutorials

How to Make a Gradient in Affinity Designer

In this tutorial, learn how to make a gradient background in Affinity Designer.

Gradients add depth to projects. This includes adding backgrounds to corporate photos, product mockups or texture to fonts and vector objects. The Gradient Tool in Affinity Designer adds and adjusts multiple colors that gradually blend together. You can add images in Bitmap gradients and use the gradient tool across all layers.

Gradients are a quick and simple way to add a fun background to any project. A shading effect can be added to objects. Text can be enhanced with a colorful combination for a striking look.

Make a Gradient Background in Affinity Designer

Gradients are so versatile you can shape the color transition however you want. Bitmap gradients can create great textured fills. There are 7 choices when adding a gradient: None, Solid, Linear, Elliptical, Radial, Conical and Bitmap. We will be working in the Designer Persona for this tutorial.

Step 1 - Create your document and add a pixel layer

Once you have opened Affinity Designer, click New document. You will be given options for sizing, resolution, orientation and more. Choose your settings and click Create.

New document Affinity Designer

Before you can add a background gradient, you need to add a pixel layer first. Go to the Layers Panel and click on Add Pixel Layer on the lower right of the screen. This will create a new blank layer.

Add Pixel Layer

Step 2 - Add a gradient background

The gradient tool is, by default, set to Linear with White and Grey points for the colors. On the left side bar select the Fill tool, it looks like a colorful circle. On your blank canvas, click and drag your mouse from one side to the other.We clicked from left to right. Release your mouse button.

Adding a gradient

The gradient can be drawn at any angle.To keep the gradient as a straight line, Shift + Click when dragging.

Step 3 - Change direction and color of gradient

On either side of the gradient line are color stops. These represent the colors used. You can move the gradient around by shifting these color stops individually. You can also narrow the transition between colors by bringing the stops closer together.

Place your mouse over the stop you want to move until you see a set of directional arrows appear. Click and drag the color stop to where you want it.

To move the entire gradient, place your mouse over one of the color stops. It will show directional arrows. Ctrl + Click to move the entire gradient.

Change direction of gradient

You can change the colors as well as add multiple color stops in between. Shifting the stops along the gradient line will change the transition/blending between colors. Click the stop you want to change. Go to the Color Menu top right and click on the color palette beneath Lightness (L) to select a color.

If your palette is only greyscale, slide the Saturation (S) slider all the way to the right.

Change gradient color

Step 4 - Adjust Hue, Saturation and Lightness

HSL stands for Hue, Saturation and Lightness. Hue changes the dominant colors. Saturation changes the intensity of the color. Lightness changes how dark or light the color is. Opacity changes how opaque and transparent the color is.

Click on one of the color stops, adjust HSL and Opacity as you want.

Adjust hue saturation lightness of gradient

Step 5 - Add more color stops to the gradient line

Additional color stops can be added to the gradient line. Position your mouse anywhere on the gradient line. A plus sign will appear next to the mouse icon. Click once to place a new color stop. Add additional color stops as you wish. We added 3 extra stops along the gradient line.

Add color stops

Step 6 - Change the transition of the color stops

On the gradient line you also have small transition lines, these change the transition between the colors. Moving the slider in one direction will make the color more dominant. Moving in the opposite direction will make the color less dominant. This will also create a harder definition between the colors whereas instead of a subtle transition.

Change color transition

Changing the type of gradient

Linear gradient is just one of a few different style gradients available. Using a gradient will depend on the type of effect you are going for in your design. As with all gradients you can easily add and edit color stops. You can also change position and edit transition between colors.

Change the type of gradient by selecting from the options under Type, top left of the screen.

Change type of gradient

Solid Gradient

A solid gradient is as the name suggests, a solid gradient fill. A quick way to change the color is to use the color palette on the top menu bar. Click any color and it will be applied to the entire canvas as a solid color.

Solid gradient fill

Elliptical Gradient

The Elliptical Gradient has two gradient lines at right angles. One line is longer than the other, creating an Ellipse with stops. However, two of those stops (at either end) represent the same color. If you change one of these end stops, the other will change too. The middle stop can be changed to another color. You can also add in additional color stops.

To move the Ellipse Gradient around you click on the center color stop. To resize the Ellipse click on one of the end color stops and drag your mouse to change the size.

Elliptical gradient fill

Radial Gradient

Unlike the Ellipse Gradient, the Radial option is rounded with a single gradient line. The size of the Radial Gradient can be adjusted with the end color stop but the shape will remain round. To move the shape without adjusting the size, click on the color stop located in the center of the gradient.

Radial gradient fill

Conical Gradient

The Conical Gradient is an interesting one. The colors are centered around a point in the middle with a curved gradient. The curved gradient features 4 color stops but two of these are connected as one color. Conical gradients give a unique way of adding a shading to an object to create a focal point.

Conical gradient fill

Bitmap Gradient

The Bitmap Gradient uses a pattern fill which can be a background, a photo or any image format. We used colorful tribal background for this example.

When using the Bitmap Gradient, it will look strange when first added as a background. The stops on this gradient are used for resizing and repositioning only. Colors can not be changed.

Bitmap gradient Affinity

Use the end stops to resize/reposition the pattern until it fills the canvas.

Adjust bitmap gradient Affinity

There is a set of options for dealing with strange looking Bitmap gradients found under the Extend Menu. These features only become available when adding a Bitmap gradient fill to vector objects or fonts.

Add a Gradient to a font or design

In Affinity Designer, adding a gradient to a vector shape or font can be a quick way to add texture or shading. We will look at how the gradient types work with the bold commercial use font Unlucky.

Step 1 - Type out your text and change the font

Create a new document and select the Text Tool on the left side panel. There are two options, Artistic Text and Frame Text. You will see either an A or a T with a box around it.

Artistic Text allows you to type without size restriction. Frame Text uses a drawn out frame to constrain the font. We will be using the Artistic Text tool. Next type out your text.

The Font Family option top left will contain all of the fonts on your system. You will also have a mini preview of what the font looks for quicker selection. Select the text and choose a font.

Artistic text tool Affinity

Step 2 - Add a gradient

Once you have chosen your font, select the text and add a gradient with the Gradient Tool. We added the gradient from the top of one corner to the bottom of the other. Linear Gradient was automatically applied.

Add a font gradient Affinity

Step 3 - Change the type of gradient

Have a little fun by changing the gradient type and create a lovely shading effect. The Elliptical and Radial Gradients appear similar when used with this font.

Change the type of gradient

Add a Bitmap gradient to the text

A Bitmap can be used to give the font texture and design. This would be very useful in sublimation projects where you want to give text a creative touch. In this example, you will see how various images can be used and how adding a stroke can make text pop.

Step 1 - Type out your text and change the font

Type out your text and choose a font. For this type of example a bold serif font works best. We used the same font as above.

Type text bold font Affinity

Step 2 - Add a bitmap gradient

Select your text and click on the Gradient Tool on the left side panel. As before select Bitmap to open the options. Navigate to where your pattern or background is located and click open.

Add bitmap to text Affinity

The image will be applied to the text as a gradient. You can reposition and resize the gradient using the end stop points. The image is full color so provides enough coverage to not need a stroke.The example below is another story.

Add a Bitmap gradient and stroke

Almost any image can be used as a bitmap gradient. The example we will use below of the tribal arrow pattern will introduce the stroke feature. Stroke colors help to outline text where some of the definition is lost due to white spaces in the design.

Step 1 - Add the tribal bitmap gradient and resize

Add a bitmap gradient as in the previous steps, selecting an image with large amounts of white. When you apply the image as a gradient you may barely see anything. It may even look as though the text has disappeared.

Gradient white spaces Affinity

In order to get a better result with this type of image you will need to resize it. Click on one of the end stops and slowly drag in towards the middle stop. The design will decrease in size. Release the mouse button when you are happy there is enough of the design in the text.

Change size tribal gradient Affinity

Step 2 - Add a stroke for more definition

Even though we have decreased the gradient so more of the design is visible, the text is still not clear. Click on the Move tool to deactivate the gradient tool. Click on the Color Menu on the right side panel. Just below it is the Stroke and Fill. The Fill option is a full circle while the Stroke option looks like a ring.

Click on the Stroke option to bring it forward and change the color. The stroke was changed to a blue.

Add a stroke to the font

Step 3 - Make the stroke width thicker

With the stroke color selected, click on the third icon labeled Stroke on the right side panel. Adjust the Width to get a nice stroke outline.

Adjust size of stroke

Extend and Quality Menus - applicable only to Bitmap gradient vector/font fills

Unlike adding a background gradient, Bitmap Gradients get extra options when a fill is added to a vector object (including drawn designs) and fonts. The two menus that open up are Extend and Quality. With these features you are able to reduce distortion that may appear.

Extend and Quality- resolving distortion issues

Under the Extend menu you have 4 options that can be applied to the Bitmap Gradient. A colorful pattern called Feathers was used in this example.

Wrap - creates a seamless fill depending on the image. This works best with seamless backgrounds created specifically for this reason.

Mirror- the image is mirrored and this can be seen at the edges.

Repeat- the design is distorted at the edges, as if bleeding out. This is the same distortion seen when applying a Bitmap gradient as a background.

Zero - Nothing is applied. The image is shown as is.

Gradient Extend examples Warp and Mirror

Gradient Extend examples Repeat and Zero

In all of the options above you can resize and reposition the gradients.

Quality is simply the software using the pixel information from the image to better place the gradient. This feature won't show much of a result.

Affinity Designer has so much to offer the ever growing world of creators. Affordable and powerful, this software is a bonus to your editing tools. If you enjoyed this tutorial be sure to check out creating a seamless pattern, adding texture to text and make a knockout design in Affinity Designer.

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