Gradient Maps and Solid Color Grades
The next thing we're gonna look at is on the lines of color grading. And we have talked about color grading quite a bit, but some of the color grading that I like to do is going to be with gradient maps and with solid colors. And here I'm gonna start getting into how we can look at gradient maps versus gradients, 'cause the next thing we're gonna do is actually working with gradients. So, let's go and open up a different image for this one. So, a solid color overlay is a great way to add a wash of color to an image, really quickly to get your own custom color grade or custom style effect to the photo. If we were to click on the solid color grade and use the color cyan, right now it's just a solid wash of color over the entire image, but when we combine that with things like blend modes, change this to color, it's giving us kinda a monochromatic effect. What if we change it to something like soft light? That's a really good one, too. If we drop this opacity down, now we're adding a very...
subtle wash of color to this entire image. I will typically do this around 20%, and the reason why, once I get this setup to soft light around 20%, and I've got that cyan color on there, the great thing about a solid color fill is that at anytime if I wanna change that color I just double click that solid color fill and I can change it to blue to get a more eerie, kind of almost about to rain type feel, to something like red like it's a hot summer day in Chicago type feel. To something cream that almost feels like a timeless feel. You notice that all of things that are happening here are custom creative effects. These are things that this image did not come in with these things. I am using these colors because I want the viewer to feel something when they get done looking at this image. The biggest disconnect that we have after we take a picture is us, the photographer, not allowing our photo to communicate with the viewer. So, if you're in a gallery setting or something like that, and you're showing your work, you got a bunch of people walking in and taking a look at your photos, just be mute. Just don't say anything. And see if those photos that you have can actually communicate with the viewer. A lot of times there's a big disconnect. If I have to justify, if I, the artist, have to tell you why I used a color, then I probably didn't use it enough to make you feel what you're feeling. But, along the lines of this when we get into things like color theory, certain colors might make certain people feel a different way. Someone might not like the color pink, and if they see the color pink on a photograph they might immediately walk away. Someone might love it, so you're not quite sure who you're gonna attract. It's kinda like putting the food outside. You might accidentally attract a bear or maybe the local kitten, who knows. You never know what you're gonna attract. So, just think about that in using those custom color grades and what color you wanna transition on this image. I would tend to go with blues on something like this, but somebody else, if they are attached to a certain color they might go towards another color. I love the color blue. I use the color blue a lot in my images. It's just one of those things, it just comes through. That's part of my style, it's part of who I am. In five to 10 years is that gonna change? Yes, if I embrace change and I embrace the fact that as an artist, I will change. As a photographer I might get stuck in my ways. So, that's one way we can add color to an image. If we were to press Gradient Map, the gradient map as you saw here, we use that for black and white, didn't we? But, if we wanna color grade with a gradient map, this is a great way to do it. It's just like split toning like we covered Adobe Camera Raw where we can tell our darkest dark areas to become a certain color, our lightest light areas to become a certain color. But, the major benefit of doing this in Photoshop as opposed to doing it in something like Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom is that not only do I have access to the colors that I choose for those shadows and those highlights, but I also have all of what's happening right here within my blend modes, my opacity, and my blend if. All of those apps that we talked about that we can tap into to make cell phone do more than just make a phone call. Make that layer do more than just rest there. So, if I click on this gradient map we can make all of our gradients here. By default, there's not a lot that come into Photoshop. If we want to though, up here in this upper right hand corner with this little gear icon, there are all kinds of gradients that we can add into here that Photoshop already has, that come with it, but they don't load all of them for you. So, if I were to put color harmonies in there, it's gonna ask you, do you wanna replace these gradients or do you want to append them? Replacing them means all of them will be wiped out. Appending them means that it'll just post it right to the bottom of 'em. So, there we got color harmonies. We can go Color Harmonies Two, append. We can go into maybe some Photographic Toning, append. Now, if I were to scroll down here, these are great for doing some photographic toning to our image, to give us a nice, different color. And these already come right there in Photoshop. Now, by default it might not look good if you put something like this on there. But, I'll tell you this, I don't care what colors you give me here, I can make it look good. I can do that not because I'm wearing nice, colorful socks right now, but because I can do things with blend modes, I can do things with opacity, and no matter how nasty that gradient is, I probably can do something with it that's gonna boost something up in my image. So, if I select even something like this, like this gold to copper, which doesn't look good by itself, there's too many separations and divisions there, but if I change this blend mode to something like color and then drop that opacity a little bit, notice how that photographic toning looks pretty good. If I click on this gradient, because I already have those things setup, I can go on a little detour here and select whatever color I want to be added to this image. So, once you get it setup, that's the big thing. That's a really awesome one, look at that. I really like that. There's the before, there's the after. The whole option here for dither and reverse, dithering will add noise to the gradient. It sounds counter productive, but sometimes if you have a really blue washed sky that looks horrible 'cause it's all blue and you add a gradient to it, when it finds the differentiation of colors within that blue, what happens is you get basically this look like a, looks like an odd transition from one color to the next, the word is not really hittin' me right now. But, if you turn dithering on it will add noise to that gradient and fill in that transition to make it look more clean. So, if you leave dithering on that'll look a lot better in that transition area. If we press reverse it'll flip that gradient around. So, now, okay we pressed reverse, what's happening now? Well, our darkest dark areas are getting a little bit more light, our lightest light areas are getting a little more dark, and the the transition that happens in between. Again, don't just stick with color. Try something like soft light. See what soft light gives you. Try something like overlay. Try something like color burn. Again, it doesn't look good. But, what happens with color burn? We drop the fill and that actually looks pretty cool. Pretty quick, pretty easy, we added some more contrast and while we did it we added some more color. So, play around with those gradients and use those gradients to build up the color grading that's happening with your image. And you don't have to just stick with one. You can do two, you can do three, and you can even say okay well, I kinda like what's happening here, but you know what, let me go ahead and protect our highlight areas and then I can come into blend if, drop that out of those highlight areas, alter option to split or feather, and now those highlight areas aren't getting any of that effect. So, that was solid color grading in the gradient map. I'm gonna introduce you to something that I just absolutely love. I can't wait to show you. I'm gonna show you now. It's called the gradient. The gradient is interesting. We've seen this image a couple times. The gradient is not necessarily a gradient map. The gradient applies itself to the image based on where you tell it to show up. So, by default they don't really look that great. So, I'm gonna go over to the gradient, and looking at this gradient it's set to black to transparency. Now, this is not a gradient map. A gradient map will look at the tones in the, look at the colors in the image, map them out, and apply a very specific tone to that color, or whatever color you tell it to apply to that color. So, your darkest areas become color a, your lighter areas become color b, and if you added a color c, d, and e in there it'll transition. What a gradient does is just like in Adobe Camera Raw like that paint roller concept. It's just paint rolling right now black into transparency onto our wall or onto our canvas. If I were to change this gradient to, let's pick a gnarly one. Let's do this one here. It's basically just applying that gradient to the entire image. The settings that I get to change here are gonna be whether this is a linear gradient, meaning it transitions up linearly, or we have a radial gradient which starts from the center and works its way out, or we have an angled which this really only looks good if you do something like this but it doesn't really do, I have never really found a use for this. If you find a use for this please email me and tell me. Reflected will basically take whatever is, whatever that gradient is and reverse it and reflect it. So, because this has so many colors in it, it's basically saying okay this is transitioning from blue to yellow to red to green, to green to red to yellow to blue. It's reflecting that gradient on the top to the bottom, and if we have something like diamond, doesn't like like that great of a gradient but we might be able to use it, let's see. Your settings here, your angle is gonna be what angle is that diamond? Where is that diamond shape angle? And you can change the angle either by typing or by moving and rotating that. And the scale is gonna be increasing that scale to make it much larger to the point that overtakes the whole thing, or much smaller. And reversing it will flip everything. Aligning with the layer and resetting the alignment will put it right back into the center of the layer. So if you move this, to move it, the only way to move it which is kind of a secret is to click on the canvas, drag it and move it. You cannot move it outside of the gradient fill editor. That's really important to understand. So we'll press OK here. If I were to try and move this now, is not a move it, it's not doing anything. But, these things, these gradients are practically worthless on your image unless you use our blend modes, our opacity, our fill, and our blend if. So if I were to change this to something like soft light and then drop this opacity a little bit, it doesn't look very good. This is really just an example. That's what I'm going with. We're gonna double-click this gradient fill and I'm gonna move this down now. So check this out. If I change this gradient filled to something like this. Press OK. Now this is something that's a little more closely related to a sunset. If I were to click on this gradient and maybe this area here is gonna be what looks like, if I have reverse on, yeah, there we go, we can turn reverse off. Basically what that's doing is it's adding more intensity of the orange to the outside of the image and leaving yellow in the center. Whereas this, the orange is in the center, the yellows toward the outside, and because we have this set to soft light it's doing some really interesting things. If we drop the scale of this, look at that. That is pretty cool. Look at that gradient. Man, right to about there. If we wanted to change the scale a little bit and make it larger, we can do that, we get the edges there. A diamond might not be the best thing for this. Maybe something like radial though, would be pretty good. And then drop that scale down. But, once you have this set, I mean look at that, it almost looks like the sun setting over the edge of the, the edge of the Earth like that. If we press OK, we still have the opacity, we still have our mask that we can use here.
Adobe® Photoshop® CC® is a valuable tool for photographers, but it can also be intimidating. In this all-inclusive 20 lesson course, you’ll go from opening the program for the first time to creating images that really stand out. Join Blake Rudis, Photoshop® expert and founder of f64 Academy, as he shows you how to maximize your use of Photoshop®. Topics covered will include:
• Class Introduction & Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Setup Interface, Cropping and Layers
• Layer Tools, Masks, Selections, Clean-Up Tools and Shapes & Text
• Smart Objects , Transforming, Actions, Filters and Editing Video
• Custom Creative Effects, Natural Retouching, Portrait Workflow, Landscape Workflow, and Composite Workflow
Don’t let the many aspects of Photoshop® prevent you from maximizing your use of this amazing app. Blake will help you develop the confidence to use your imagination and create the images that you will be proud to share with your clients.
Software Used: Adobe® Photoshop® CC® 2018