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A really quick and easy way to add a color wash over a black and white image in Photoshop is to add a new gradient fill layer. I can do this in one of two ways. I can either select the Layer menu, and then choose New Fill Layer and add a gradient, or we can use the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. But if I do select the icon here, I need to make sure that I've got the Option key or the ALT key held down. And then I can select gradient. If I don't hold the Option or the ALT key, I get the ew gradient window.
As opposed to the new layer window. And I need this window in order to change the mode to color. If I don't change the mode to color. I would just get a solid gradient, or in a case of the previous movie be a solid color. I wouldn't be able to see the photograph underneath. Then we will click OK, and now I get the gradient fill dialog. I can choose from one of the preset gradients by clicking on this downward pointing triangle. You can see at the top I have all the default gradients. But I have a number of additional gradients here, and the way did that is I simply clicked on the Gear icon, and then I selected the Photographic Toning gradients.
But don't worry you don't have to load them because we're not actually going to use them right now. Instead I'm going to select the red to green gradient here. And then I'll click up above here in order to close that window. Now I want to make a modification of this gradient, so the way we do that is by clicking anywhere inside the gradient. That will bring up the Gradient Editor, and now here at the bottom area where we've got these color stops. If I double click on the red color stop it'll bring up the color picker and I can modify this red.
I actually want a blue color here, so I'll select just a very desaturated kind of darker blue. Then I'll click OK, and now I want to modify the color stop on the right, so I'll double click in the green area. And I'm going to not only desaturate this green, but I'm going to change it and move it more towards yellow. And one of the things that I might recommend is when you're selecting colors, you probably want the saturation of all of the colors in your gradient to be the same, because if one of them is really saturated and the others not. And you decide, well, I want to use the opacity on the Layers panel to desaturate.
By the time the yellow is desaturated enough, the blue might hardly even be evident. So I'm going to go ahead and leave this very desaturated and then click OK. Now, if I like this gradient and I want to use it again, I can name the gradient. So I'll call it Blue. To yellow. And then click New, and it will actually add it as a gradient so that I could select it again. We'll click OK, and then click OK again, and we can see that gradient fill layer applied.
You'll notice that when I change to opacity here, they're both kind of decreasing in color and saturation at the same rate. I'll go ahead and set that back up to a 100. But one of the problems is that if you just add a gradient that goes from the top of your image to the bottom of your image, your eye tends to just fall off the page. So I'm going to add a secondary Gradient fill. And the easiest way to do this, is to just use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+j or Ctrl+j on Windows, or if you wanted to, you could drag down the gradient to the New Layer icon. That would also make a duplicate of it.
Now, to edit the gradient, we'll double-click in the gradient thumbnail. That brings up the gradient fill. I want to go in and actually change the color, so I'll click inside the gradient. Then I'll double-click on the blue. Now I want to move that a little bit more towards our purples. Click OK. And then I'll double-click on the yellow. Now I want to change that more towards our pinks. Now that's a little too strong so let me back off a little bit on that. Some colors you'll notice, it's not that the values have to be the same. It's that when you visually look at them, they should be the same in saturation.
Alright, now I'll click OK, and again, I could name this if I want. So this is dark to light purple. Click New. That'll save it. Click OK. But the problem is, is that for one, this is going at the exact same angle as the other one. So, I'm going to switch the angle, and then the other problem is, is that this gradient is simply covering up the gradient underneath it. If I want to use two gradients to blend together, then I need to start decreasing the opacity of one of the gradients.
So, I'll go ahead and lower it down to maybe 40, 45% here. Whatever you'd like. But, my point is, is that without this top gradient, your eye just moves straight down the image. By adding this secondary gradient, at a different angle, the colors will actually change from the left side to the right side, so your eye won't just go straight from the top to the bottom. If we wanted to change this gradient, we just double-click on it. Double-click in the gradient area, and I'm going to change the second color here, because I think it's a little bit too discreet. I'm barely seeing the change here, so I'm going to add a little bit more orange here.
Click OK. Click OK again. But let's see what happens if we reverse it, because right now I've got the same kind of colors. I've got the purple to orange, and I also have the blue to yellow. So if I reverse this, it should have a much more dramatic effect. And certainly it does, I click OK. I'll just increase the effect a little bit and now we can see the difference between just having the single gradient fill layer, and combining the two together with the top one having a decreased opacity, having the gradient reversed, and also having it set at a different angle.
So there you have it. It's as easy as that to create a color wash over a black and white image.
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