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The Gradient node is a very useful starting primitive, especially when displaced or modified to create randomness. It is also a very useful mask generator.

This primitive creates three distinct types of gradients: Linear, Radial, and Helix. Several properties shown below are unique to each gradient type.

Node Properties
Linear : A ramp going from lowest to highest.
Radial : A soft, radial "bump".
Helix : A climbing, spiral or helix gradient.
ScaleThe scale of the gradient.
SawtoothON allows a lower scaled Linear gradient to create a repeating or sawtooth pattern.
DirectionThe angle of the Linear gradient.
Edge Behavior
None : Edge pixels are left blank.
Mirror : Edge pixels are mirrored.
Repeat : Edge pixels are repeated.
Edge : ???
X / YThe center point on the Radial gradient.
Start / EndWhere the Helix will start and end.