Graphics Design Trends 2020: Color Gradient

For the third year in a row, gradients are going to be a major trend in the graphic design world.

The staying popularity of gradients was one of the biggest surprises that I ran into while researching this piece. Honestly, after their nostalgic comeback tour, I thought the world would move on to something new.

But each year it seems like designers keep finding new ways to use gradients in their designs.

The year 2020 is no different. Starting a few years ago, gradients were mainly used as eye-catching backgrounds, like in this example from INC:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 1

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Color filters have also been used to add some extra texture, like in this annual report cover:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 2

Then last year gradients became the center points of a lot of graphics designers:

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Now as the novelty starts to wear off, I believe that gradients are going to be used as one of the standard elements of graphic design.

I know that sounds like it might be a negative statement, but it isn’t! Instead of being thrown away as another passing fad, gradients are finding a life throughout the design world.

For example, Grammarly used gradients instead of flat colors in their social media graphics:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 5

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The designers at Trello(software company) uses them to accentuate their blog headers and social graphics too:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 7

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Instead of being the main focal point of these designs, the gradients are just one of those elements of graphic design that elevates the graphic.

Gradients can be used to add some depth to complex illustrations, like below:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 6

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With simple gradients, there’s a dream-like quality added to these illustrations.

Gradients are used a little more subtly in these Twitter illustrations below, but I still think that they add a lot of depth and texture to the illustrations:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 4

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As brands continue to use these types of illustrations, gradients will replace the flat colors in an attempt to further differentiate themselves from other companies.

Additionally, with the rise of muted color palettes, gradients also are going to become a little less vivid and bright. The Apple Card is a great example of this shift:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 5

I truly believe that if it would have been released last year, the gradient would be a lot more vivid and colorful. But as you can see, the card feels a lot more professional, modern, and reserved by avoiding those loud colors.

I truly believe that if it would have been released last year, the gradient would be a lot more vivid and colorful. But as you can see, the card feels a lot more professional, modern, and reserved by avoiding those loud colors.

The muted gradients in the example below invoke a similar feeling:

Graphic Design Trends 2020 - Color Gradients 6

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The color palette also blends well with the black background and fonts, like we saw in the first trend.

So as you can see gradients show no sign of slowing down, but the way you use them in 2020 has to be a lot more innovative than previous years.

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