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In this exercise I'm going to show you how to manually modify a gradient, one color stop at a time, so that it exactly suits the needs of your photograph. I've saved my changes as Sienna mountains.psd, and my Colorize layer is selected, my Adjustments panel is available, so I'll go ahead and click the down pointing arrowhead to the right of the gradient strip, and I'm going to switch from the gradient that's active right now, which I believe is Broad Sienna, I'm going to switch over to that one that grabbed my attention earlier, which is Complementary VY.
That goes ahead and darkens up the image slightly as you can see. If I turn off this layer, this is the original black and white image that is subject to this Black & White Adjustment layer, and then when I turn on the colorize layer, the Shadows stay pretty much as dark as they were before, but the Highlights are dropping down a little bit. So the image overall has a little bit of a gloomier feel. So, I might want to lift that. I'm going to go ahead and click on this gradient strip to bring up the Gradient Editor dialog box and basically what you're doing with this gradient, you're doing two things: first of all, you're infusing color into your image of course, but you're also adjusting its overall luminance, because you can think of every single one of these Color Stops as being a triangle underneath the Histogram inside of Levels, for example.
So you can actually adjust the luminance levels as you're colorizing the image. So, for purposes of this effect, I want you to think of brightness as varying not from 0 to 255 like it generally does, but rather from 0 for black 0% for black to 100% for white. So, if I click on this black Color Stop, its Location is 0%, that's the brightness that we're modifying inside the image, and we're mapping it to black. So we're mapping 0 to 0. Whereas, if I click on this white Color Stop, its location is 100%, which means we're taking the brightest pixels inside the image and we're mapping them to white.
So, we're changing white to white, so no change there. Let's go and move to the next Color Stop to left, and notice its Location is 85%, so we're taking the 85% bright pixels, which are very bright pixels inside the image and we're mapping them to this yellow, and you can actually see the yellows here inside the background image. Go ahead and double-click on that Color Stop to bring up the Color Picker dialog box, and notice that we're mapping 85% to a brightness of 85%, so we would think that the Highlights aren't getting any darker at all, but here's what you have to bear in mind, Saturation brings with it darkness.
So, notice the color field right here and remember that when Hue is selected, when the H option is selected that radio button there, then you're seeing dark on the bottom of the field and brightness at the top of the field and you're seeing low saturation on left-hand side and high saturation on the right-hand side. So, I want you to notice, if you read these colors from black to white along the left-hand side of the field, they look lighter than the same colors map from black to white on the right-hand side of the field. That's because the highly saturated colors are darker than the low saturation colors, and to see what I mean, I'll go ahead and click inside the Saturation value here.
I want you to watch these yellow colors here in the background. As I leech up the Saturation, notice how much more they glow, notice how much brighter those luminance levels become. So now, we are truly mapping what were formerly 85% bright pixels to 85% and 0 Saturation. All right, I'm going to go ahead and increase the Saturation a little bit, I'm going to take it up to 20%, because I consider this gradient to be too garish so far. So I'll click OK in order to accept that very low saturation yellow by the way, so the Hue value is set to 50 degrees, click OK.
I'm now going to select the next Color Stop over, its Location is 75%, so we're taking 75% bright pixels and mapping them too, if I double-click on this Color Stop, mapping them to 75%. So again, it would seem like they are not getting any darker, but they are, because they're infused with 50% Saturation. Anyway, I'm going to start by taking this Hue value and raising it to 45 degrees, so that it's closer to its neighbor. So its neighbor is 50 degrees, this one is going to be 45 degrees, and then I'm going to take the Saturation value down, and notice as I do, I'm taking it down to I'd say about 15%.
Notice as I do, I'm brightening up those details inside the image. All right, now I'll click OK. Now let's go way over to the other side here. So we've got these two Color Stops that are identifying the Highlights in the image, then we have these two Color Stops that are identifying the Shadows and we're just letting the midtones ride in between. So, I'll click on this guy, which is 20 %, so we're taking the 20% brightness pixels that is to say some very dark colors inside the image, and we're mapping them to what? Let's go and double-click on that Color Stop.
Well, this color is blue, so 210 degrees you may recall from our discussion, way back in the fundamentals' portion of the series, that's what I call cobalt and it's a shade of blue that's trending towards cyan. Anyway, I'm happy with the color value, I'm not going to change that. Notice I am brightening things up, because I'm going from 20% to 25% brightness. However, because of the Saturation, we're weighing the color down. I'm going to take that Saturation level down to 20%, I think works pretty well for this, maybe 25, let's just raise it slightly there and then click OK.
Now, we've got this final Color Stop, because we don't need to change black and white, they're fine. I'll go ahead and double-click on this guy, at 10%, we're mapping to 20% brightness so you would think we're elevating the luminance levels of the very darkest colors. However, we've got a ton of violet going on, 270 degrees as the Hue value is dead on Violet, and 85% Saturation is just over the top. So let's go ahead and take that Saturation level down to 20% I would say, and then click OK.
All right, now at this point, having modified your Hue values and your Saturation values and so on, you have the option if you like to adjust your luminance levels. So, there is a few ways that works: one is, let's say you want to lighten the luminance levels. Then you would drag your Color Stops to the left. So if I grab this guy for example, it's currently at 75% and I drag it way over to 40% let's say, I'll dramatically brighten the image, because I'm saying, anything that currently has a brightness of 40% associated with it which is darker than medium, so it's in the dark midtone of Shadow region, it's going to map to a brightness of 75% which is clearly a Highlight.
So, we're wiping out the midtones inside the image at this point. I'll cancel out of there; we don't want to do that of course. So again, if you want to lighten your image, you drag your Color Stops to the left, if you want to darken your image, you drag your Color Stops to the right like so, and then if you want to increase the contrast of your image, you drag your Color Stops inward, so you would move your bright Color Stops to the left to make them brighter and you would move your dark Color Stops to the right to make them darker. So anyway, everybody moves toward the center in order to increase the contrast.
So for example, I'm going to take this guy and move him to 65% there and that might be a little too far, we'll see, and then I'll move this one 10% over as well to 75% and we end up getting this effect. And that's actually looking pretty darn good where this image is concerned. Then I'll take this guy that's currently at 20% and I'll move it over to 25% in order to darken things incrementally and I'll take this guy that's at 10% and move it to 15%. As a result, we've enhanced the contrast of the image.
Now what I would suggest you do, you don't absolutely have to do this, but my recommendation is that you go ahead and save your modified gradient. If you spend any time making it, you might as well save it. Saving is kind of a weird process; you basically name the gradient first and then click the New button. You have to work in that order. If you click New first, thinking then you'd name it, which is the way it works just about everywhere else inside of Photoshop, then you create a new gradient called Custom. Anyway, I'm going to call mine, Low sat complement or something like that, and then click on the New button.
Now, if you make some mistake and you need to make some tweaks to your gradient or change its name or anything like that, you can press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and hover your cursor over one of these gradient swatches here, and your cursor changes to a pair of scissors, and then you would click with that Alt or Option key down that deletes that gradient swatch, make whatever changes you want to make. I believe if we start moving a single Color Stop here, like I'd just moved it from 25% to 26%, that wipes out my name, which is delightful work on Photoshop's part.
Anyway, so I now have to rename it again Low-sat complement, but you know what, last time I forgot the hyphen but before I also remembered to have an E at this location. Anyway, I'll now go ahead and click New and now I've got a saved version of that gradient right ready to go, I'll click OK, like I said you don't have to do that, you can work with an unsaved gradient as a gradient map layer, but it's just a good idea in case you want to use that gradient later. Now, to get a sense of what we've done, you can turn that colorize layer off, this is what the image looked like in black and white, and this is what it looks like now infused with six different Color Stops of colors, starting with black, ending with white, a bunch of different Color Stops in between.
In the next exercise, I'll show you how to modify your colorization effect, not laboriously by adjusting Color Stops, but rather fairly easily using a combination of Blend mode and Opacity.
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