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April Insight | Why I use the gradient/lasso tool so much

April Insight | Why I use the gradient/lasso tool so much

When you think of painting, you think of brushes. But even though I call myself a digital painter, I use the lasso tool and gradient tool a lot. Why?

First, for those who don’t know: the lasso tool allows me to make a selection on the canvas, and any marks I make won’t go beyond those boundaries. Kind of like traditional painters using masking tape on their canvases.

The gradient tool creates a transition from one color to the next, or from one color to transparent. That last way is the mode in which I use the gradient tool most. It allows me to control hard and soft edges, which in turn create contrast and define shapes.

Now, why don’t I use a brush to create a gradient, instead of the lasso and gradient tool? There are a couple of reasons:

– It allows the colors beneath to shine through more
One of my favorite things about the gradient tool is that it allows me to create a very cohesive sketch when I set the base layer to a certain color and start drawing in shapes with gradients. The color of the base layer will shine through, and that will pull the whole image together.
– You instantly start thinking about, and creating, light and shadow.
Gradients instantly create differences in color, which maps out curvature on surfaces, light, hard edges and smooth edges. Instead of just thinking about the “base color” of a thing, you instantly get to incorporate that into your image because there won’t just be a flat color on your canvas.
– It creates a smoother gradient, faster
To create a smooth gradient with a brush, I’d have to go over the area a couple times and color pick the colors in between to smooth out the transition. With a gradient, that’s instant. I can add texture later.
– It also allows for some happy accidents
When I make a selection and draw the gradient tool from the starting point, I know where the sharp edges will be. But the soft edges will vary based on how I drag the tool over the selection. While I have some control, I have seen effects happen that I hadn’t expected, and decided to keep.

Have you ever tried this technique?

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