Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member

Using the Gradient Map adjustment

From: Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop

Video: Using the Gradient Map adjustment

The Gradient Map Adjustment focuses on luminance in a photo, translating pixels to a particular tone or color based on the original luminance value. The new pixel values can be shades of grey, making this adjustment useful for black and white conversions. And because the pixel values can also be colored, you have quite a bit of flexibility in creating the final image. In this lesson, I'll show you just how powerful the Gradient Map Adjustment can really be. We'll use an Adjustment Layer, of course, and I want to point out that when you add a new adjustment layer, we're not looking for the Gradient Adjustment Layer, but rather the Gradient Map down at the bottom of the list. The Gradient Adjustment will simply place a gradient over your image, covering up the photograph.

Using the Gradient Map adjustment

The Gradient Map Adjustment focuses on luminance in a photo, translating pixels to a particular tone or color based on the original luminance value. The new pixel values can be shades of grey, making this adjustment useful for black and white conversions. And because the pixel values can also be colored, you have quite a bit of flexibility in creating the final image. In this lesson, I'll show you just how powerful the Gradient Map Adjustment can really be. We'll use an Adjustment Layer, of course, and I want to point out that when you add a new adjustment layer, we're not looking for the Gradient Adjustment Layer, but rather the Gradient Map down at the bottom of the list. The Gradient Adjustment will simply place a gradient over your image, covering up the photograph.

The Gradient Map Adjustment allows us to redefine the pixel values in the image to create a new interpretation. So, I'll click Gradient Map to add my Gradient Map Adjustment. As you can see, the default in this case is a black to white gradient. So, the darkest pixels in the image appear black, the brightest pixels appear white, and all the other tonal values in between are remapped to shades of gray. And of course, this creates a basic black and white conversion. We can also use other presets to create a different look for the image. I'll click the popup for the preset and I can choose one of the other values. As you can see, many of these are colors that generally speaking won't work all that well for most photographic images.

They're interesting, but not exactly good interpretations for a photograph. Fortunately, we can define our own gradient. To do so, simply click on the gradient itself. Not on the pop-up, but on the Gradient Preview in the pop-up. This will bring up our Gradient Editor. Here, we can redefine the transition between tonal values and color values to determine what the image will actually look like. I'll start off with a basic black to white adjustment. The gradient is defined by gradient stops.

In this case, a simple black stop at one end and a white stop at the other end. I can change the value of these stops if I'd like to though. So for example, I'll click on my black stop at the left here. And then, I'll click on the color swatch, to bring up the color picker. I'll just choose a dark shade of blue. Maybe something like this. And click OK. Then I'll click on my white gradient stop and click the color swatch once again. And perhaps, I'll use a shade of yellow for this one. Clicking OK to apply that. You can see that I now have a blue to yellow gradient. And the tonal values within the image have updated accordingly. Based on the luminance of a pixel, it will be mapped to a particular color along this gradient.

And of course, I can change the behavior of that gradient by shifting the distribution of these gradient stops. So, if I drag my yellow gradient stop inward, for example, you'll see that I'm redistributing the values within the image. In this case, that would cause some clipping of the highlights because I've specified that much of the image is going to be the exact same shade of yellow. The point is that I can change the position of these gradient stops and I can also change the transition between gradient stops. By dragging the diamond that falls between the two stops, I can adjust where the midpoint for that transition is. So, in this case, for example, I can have more yellow within the image or more blue within the image.

In this case, I would probably want to keep it at about the center point. Of course, in this case, I don't really like the colors or what they're doing to the image. So, let's take a look at a more realistic example. We'll, create a sepia tone version of the image. I'm going to start off with my black to white gradient. And in most cases, that's exactly what I want to do because I want the darkest pixel values to be black and the brightest to be white, in most cases. It's everything in between that I might assign a different color to. I'll go ahead and click below the gradient in order to add an additional gradient stop. I'll then, click on the color swatch to bring up the color picker and I'll go find a nice dark shade that's something along a copper color. I need something fairly dark, since we're working on the shadow areas of the image, but I want to make sure there's at least a little bit of color to it. That's looking reasonably good.

So, I'll go ahead and click OK. I'll then, click below the gradient, further up toward the white end to add one more gradient stop. I'll then, click the color swatch to bring up the color picker and go find a lighter shade that will work for this particular image. I think I'd like the light areas to be just a little bit warmer, so I'll shift my hue down toward a little bit more orange and maybe find something in that region. right about there looks okay. So, I'll click okay. Of course, in this case, I've got a little bit of a flattened, lifeless appearance to the image. But I can fine tune that by shifting the position of my gradient stops. Simply dragging left to right as needed to change the overall appearance of the image.

In this case, making the image appear with a little bit more contrast is going to be key. At any time, I can change the color value for a given gradient stop by clicking on that gradient stop, and then clicking on the color swatch, to bring up the color picker. I can also change the location, either by dragging or by changing the percentage for location. And of course, if I add an extra gradient stop by mistake or I decide that it's just not working, I can click on that anchor point, and then click the Delete button. When you're happy with the gradient you've created, you can save it for future use. So, let's call this copper, since this has something of a copper appearance to it, and then I'll click the New button.

That will add that gradient as a preset on the list. And in fact, I can then, use that preset directly within the Adjustments panel. I'll go ahead and click okay here. And then, I'll delete my Gradient Map Adjustment Layer and add a New Gradient Map Adjustment Layer, just to demonstrate this concept. Here's my default gradient, but as you can see the gradient I just created is one of the presets that's available. So, I could use this preset with any image just be adding a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer. As you can see, the gradient map adjustment blends a focus on luminance, which is perfect for creating a black and white image, with the ability to add color, which is wonderful from a creative perspective.

The result, is a remarkably powerful way to interpret your photographic images, with flexibility and creativity.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop
Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop

27 video lessons · 1038 viewers

Tim Grey
Author

 

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now "Already a member? Log in

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Photoshop Black-and-White Workshop.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Your file was successfully uploaded.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.