I've found that you can change the aspect ratio of a radial gradient in Illustrator to create an elliptical gradient, how do you achieve the same effect in Photoshop please?

3 Answers 3


Create the radial gradient on its own layer, whether directly or through the use of a gradient effect, then convert the layer to a Smart Object using Filter > Convert for Smart Filters or Convert to Smart Object from the Layers Panel flyout.

You now have a gradient that you can resize and transform using the Edit > Free Transform as needed. Because it is a Smart Object, the transform is non-destructive, so you can adjust it later if the composition requires it.

If your transformed elliptical gradient needs to fill the whole canvas, make it larger than needed in a separate document, then drag it into your working canvas to give you the most flexibility.

  • I think I took this approach but the long way round (I actually saved my gradient to a file and imported back, forgive me I'm new!) When I convert my layer to a smart object it seems just as destructive? For instance, I loose the layer effects that create the gradient, so I can't go back and alter the colour.
    – Red Taz
    Nov 25, 2011 at 16:58
  • Once the gradient is captured as a Smart Object, you can go back into it at any time (just double click the icon in the Layers Panel) and change colors or anything else you want. But the gradient must be IN the Smart Object, not applied to the Smart Object after the fact. Nov 25, 2011 at 19:41
  • AH! So that's how smart objects work, thanks very much. In that case your approach definitely gives the most malleable end result.
    – Red Taz
    Nov 28, 2011 at 9:24

The Gradient Tool in Photoshop produces a raster effect (i.e. just pixels applied onto a layer). You can transform the pixels to change the aspect ratio. Here's an example:

  1. Create a new empty layer.
  2. Use the Gradient Tool to create a Radial gradient that fits fully in the canvas
  3. Press Ctrl+T (Windows) or Cmd+T (Mac) to get the transform controls
  4. Use the transform controls to resize the gradient horizontally or vertically

This is destructive, unlike in Illustrator, which means once you change the aspect ratio, you are changing the pixels forever (assuming you don't undo).

  • 1
    and Depending on the Gradient style.. Brush Tool and Soft Round Brush with the help of Free Transform will give the same effect..
    – Joonas
    Nov 18, 2011 at 23:05

I found this, and I think it's best option since I don't think you can have automated elliptical gradients. Taken from: http://www.clearps.com/photoshop-forum/index.php/t/16625/

There are many, many ways to do this but here's what I'd probably do:

1) Create a new layer and place it under your photo layer.

2) Fill it with white.

3) Select the eliptical area you'd like "highlighted" or rather, not faded at all with your marquee tool.

4) Select "QuickMask" (or hit Q) and you'll notice a colored mask now around your selection.

5) Go to Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur and adjust the slider to the level of blur you think would work. Click OK.

6) Switch out of QuickMask mode (hit Q again). You will see your "marching ant" selection again (which might be a bit smaller now, but that's ok).

7) Making sure you're on your photo's layer (and not the white one you created in step 1), hit the Layer Mask button at the bottom of your layers palette. This will mask out the image that wasn't in your blurred selection.

Since you are new, don't forget to accept the best answers for your questions.

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