I find it very annoying to have to change the angle of a gradient fill after having rotated/flipped a shape.

Is there a way to rotate the shape AND the gradient fill at the same time ?

In other forums, some users suggested to transform the layer into a smart object. But that's not what I want since you loose all the benefits of a vector shape: if you scale up your vector, it will pixelate; and you will need to edit the smart object itself.

Also, this brings other problems (what if there is several occurence of that smart object in your file, or if you use a linked smart object that is embedded elsewhere?)

So that specific idea (convert to a small object) seems quite clunky - except if Photoshop had the same feature than After Effects (constantly rasterize); which allows to resize comps without loss of quality.

  • If your Smart Object contains a vector, then you will not lose the benefits of a vector shape. It's still vector, and can still be resized without degradation in quality, etc.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 12:29
  • @billy-ker: This is not true - you can resize (eg. scale up) a vector within the smart object, but if you scale up the smart object itself, it will pixelate (see comments on the answer below)
    – gordie
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 21:33
  • That's what I meant, just scale it within the smart object. What's the problem? Anyway, why are you drawing vectors in Photoshop? It's vector support is only very limited. Better to use Illustrator. You can copy and paste a vector from AI into PS as a Smart Object, and rescale it without editing the Smart Object itself.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 22:58
  • Because I use linked smart objects. The same object is part of dozen of files. So I cannot edit it once it has been "instantiated". The question is not why here. I'm setting up a workflow and I have been asked to use Photoshop for it. I have a lot of masks and shapes on pictures. If Photoshop cannot handle vectors correctly, maybe they should just not include it in the software...
    – gordie
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 7:18
  • Hower, I didn't knew about the copy/paste from AI trick, I'll have a look, thanks.
    – gordie
    Commented Sep 13, 2018 at 7:20

1 Answer 1


You Have to Turn it Into a Smart Object

The way Photoshop works is by making your shape a mask of the gradient layer below. You can't see, this but it means that the gradient is always the same no matter what you do to the shape. Move it around to see.

So to get around this you use a Smart Layer, which effectively makes it a complete all in one shape via a standalone file rather than 2 separate objects.

*The Smart Object is fully editable as normal by double-clicking on it.

Smart Object Benefits - With Smart Objects, you can:

  • Perform nondestructive transforms. You can scale, rotate, skew, distort, perspective transform, or warp a layer without losing original image data or quality because the transforms don’t affect the original data.

  • Work with vector data, such as vector artwork from Illustrator, that otherwise would be rasterized in Photoshop.

  • Perform nondestructive filtering. You can edit filters applied to Smart Objects at any time.

  • Edit one Smart Object and automatically update all its linked instances.

  • Apply a layer mask that’s either linked or unlinked to the Smart Object layer.

  • Try various designs with low-resolution placeholder images that you later replace with final versions.

You can’t perform operations that alter pixel data—such as painting, dodging, burning, or cloning—directly to a Smart Object layer, unless it is first converted into a regular layer, which will be rasterized. To perform operations that alter pixel data, you can edit the contents of a Smart Object, clone a new layer above the Smart Object layer, edit duplicates of the Smart Object, or create a new layer.

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  • Ok, I was full of hope but... When scaling up that smart object, it pixelates. So this workflow is kind of destructive... You see what I mean ? What would be nice would be that PS understands that there is a vector layer in the Smart object thus would not pixelate...
    – gordie
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 14:00
  • Not if you edit the original object. The smart object is just a representation of the actual object, a preview if you like.
    – Electron
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 14:17
  • Yeah, but that's what I would like to avoid: I want to use that smart object like an asset that I can use, resize, etc...in several files: I cannot thus edit it once I have built it. What is missing is a feature like in After Effects, "continously rasterize" (the sun icon)
    – gordie
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 14:53
  • 2
    Currently it’s not possible other than using a smart object. There are many frustrating things like this in Photoshop. Hopefully in future releases it’ll improve. For best results with vectors, use Illustrator.
    – Electron
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 15:06

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