How to Fade Photos Edges with a Gradient in Canva

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One thing that happens when you have the design world at your fingertips is you begin to forget about the basics.

Meaning, with all sorts of animated text options, the ability to remove photo backgrounds, and more, it’s easy to forget there is still basic, yet still cool capabilities within Canva.


And today, that brings me to the use of the gradient, and specifically, using gradient to fade in and out of photos.

So, I’ll run through three really simple yet nice-looking use cases of adding a gradient in Canva—fading a gradient out into transparency, fully covering a photo with gradient, and then adding a nice colorful background slate on photos that don’t have a background.

(Video at the end if you’d rather view than read!)

How to Add a Gradient in Canva

To add a gradient in Canva, go to “elements” and then search “gradient” to easily find a gradient solution. Click the gradient shape of your choosing, and then place the gradient over your photo.

Of course, if you need more detailed direction than that, here you go!

How to Add a Gradient That Fades Into Transparency

The first use case is a fun one, and that’s adding a gradient that fades into transparency. This is useful if you have a photo you want to use for, say, a social media header, but you need a clean space to add text.

1. Add a Photo

Of course, the first step is to make sure you have a photo to work with. So, with Canva, either upload your photo or choose a photo from the many available.

For this first example, I’m using Madden, and a photo capturing a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge.

2. Size the Photo to Canvas Height

Next, resize (drag the corner) of the photo so that the photo’s height matches the height of the Canvas on which you’re working.

(This is only if you have a photo with a background. If you end up removing the background from your photo, like as shown in the next use case, it doesn’t matter.)

3. Add the Gradient

To add a gradient, Canva has a few out of the box options. Simply go to “elements” and then search “gradient.” Not too far down the list of options you should see the purple fading gradient square.

For this use case, that’s the gradient we will be using (it’s labeled as “gradient that fades to transparency.”)

4. Ensure Correct Gradient Orientation

Quickly, you’ll want to make sure the gradient is facing the correct direction. So, to make sure you achieve the desired effect, you’ll want the faded portion of the gradient to be on the same side of the white are of your design.

5. Resize the Gradient

And then again, just as you did with the photo, you’re going to want to resize the gradient so the height matches up with the height of the canvas on which you’re working.

Read More: Extending a Photo Background in Canva


6. Place the Gradient

Last, either by dragging, or more delicately, by nudging with the arrow keys, move the gradient over your photo. With each inch or click, you’ll notice the gradient beginning to “take over” the photo. Keep moving the gradient until you reach the point where the edge of your photo is no longer distinguishable.

And that’s it!

Now, I won’t go into extreme detail with the remaining use cases as you should have most of what you need, but here is the additional direction.

How to Add Gradient That Covers Photo

Instead of adding a gradient that fades into transparency, you can obviously add a gradient that covers and affects the entire photo.

The key here is to just choose a gradient that doesn’t “fade into transparency.” So, if you go back to “elements” and then search “gradient” again, you’ll see a number of squares and rectangles that offer full gradient.

So, enlarge the photo to cover the entire canvas. Then, add the gradient and size it so that it covers the entire photo. Last, go to your transparency adjuster and choose the level of transparency!

How to Add Gradient With Transparent Background

Last, as mentioned above, you can also add a nice gradient effect when you have a photo that doesn’t have a background, like so:

The only small hurdle is, background removal is only available in Canva Pro, but you can grab a free 30-day trial right here.

So, all you do is place your photo again, and this time “remove background” with the one-click tool. Then, place your photo and add your fading gradient just like we did in the first step!

If you’d like a video that recaps the process, here you go. And of course, please drop a line if you get stuck anywhere.

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