Holy guacamole, gradients are back! From what’s been a very long lasting era of flat design, there’s recently been a steady increase in gradients being used to work alongside the existing trend. But how you might ask? Simple, trendsetters lead the way. Whilst I may have been quite the trendy whippersnapper back in the day, it took me a little too long to realise that no matter how much I rocked corduroy jeans, they weren’t going to come back into fashion. However, brands like Spotify have made bold moves, utilising duotone overlays and gradients in marketing campaigns and playlist covers.
Way back in 2016, Instagram also unveiled a new logo, with a striking orange, yellow, pink and purple gradient behind a white outlined camera. This caused uproar within the design community, why change one of the most recognisable tech logos out there? But just look around, gradients are now being increasingly used in UI, branding, typography and illustration.
So what is a gradient?
A gradient is created by using two or more colours to create one, singular element. Imagine blue on one corner, red on the other, and a combination of the two in the middle. This allows designers to create something that feels like a new colour (or a tone that didn’t exist before). What makes gradients so fun to experiment with is the fact that there really isn’t any distinctive rules. You could use multiple colours, flow horizontally or vertically, radiate from the centre, the possibilities are almost endless.
Whilst design is very much about getting rid of the old and getting groovy with the new, for me, gradients have never really been trashed – just updated. The modern gradient incorporates plenty of flat elements, mainly colour. You’ll notice that many examples today use hues from flat design palettes. So less of a replacement, more of a compliment. It’s no argument that flat design is still very much in trend, just evolved. This enhancement is part of a design update often referred to as “flat 2.0” or “semi-flat design”.
We’ve been using gradients to create impact and show movement. Take a look at the fancy work we’ve been making. #ta-da!
So to all the fellow trendsetters out there. Use gradients. Be fearless. Be proud. And lastly, wear corduroy jeans – they will be coming back.