Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video How to create Gradient Tone Mapping color effects, part of Photo Tools Weekly.
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- [Voiceover] Hey gang, welcome back. Let's continue to take a look at how we can work with this Gradient Map technique. This one is pretty cool, isn't it? Well, here let's start off by working with this image. I'll press F to go to Full Screen Mode. This is a photograph from one of my other courses. It was a retouching project course. This is the image after it's been retouched. What I want to do is fine tune its color and try out a few different ideas. One idea I want to try out is to add a sepia tone look. Another one is to add a little bit of blue and yellow to the image.
So let's start off by clicking on an Adjustment Layer icon to convert the image to black and white. So now we have removed the color with a single adjustment. Next let's go to our trusty old Gradient Map Adjustment Layer, so we'll click on that icon, which opens up our Properties panel for the Gradient Map. Now you may have noticed the Gradient Map comes preinstalled with a bunch of gradients, which really are just so odd. I don't know how they decided which ones to include, but I think this is one of the reasons why people often don't use this is because it just seems to random and eclectic here.
Yet there are better options and you can find those by clicking on this gear icon. If you go down here, let's try out Photographic Toning. I'll click on that and we can either Replace what's there or Append. If you Append, then you have access to all of the gradients, right? What we can do is click to drag this out a little bit. You can see I have a whole set of different type of gradients. We can click on these various options and start to see how it might look to apply this. That one actually looks really cool.
It's a nice subtle type of a look. Let's go ahead and just apply that for now. If we click on the icon to open up our Editor, what you'll with all of these various options is they're a little bit more complex. Remember before we had black and white, or whatever it was? Now we have all of these different little options, and it gives us the ability to control and say, hey you know what, I actually want this tone to reach a little bit farther up into the frame. Or you know what I actually don't this to be so bright and white. I can remove those and you can see how I'm just really changing the overall look.
Now if you get into dangerous territory like I have here, no big deal, just click onto another one, and you can always go back and it will reset whatever it was previously. Also you can add or remove these as we've seen. You can click and drag them off or click back in order to add, and then customize the Color. Now let me choose one which will be a little bit over the top, click OK. Remember we talked about one of the ways that we could have fun with these is by to change the Blending Mode, so here I'll change it to Soft Light.
Now we can see what was really kind of overwhelming color has become much more subtle. Here of course we can always lower the Opacity too if we just want that kind of subtle tint of sepia toning like we have here. So this could be one look for our image. Now to save this out, I would just click on one layer, Shift + click the other, press Command + G on Mac, Control + G on Windows. I'll just call this BW black and white and Sepia. Next it's fun to experiment with other ways to process the image, right? So one of the things I mentioned is I would love to see this with more blues in my shadows.
So I'm gonna click to add a Gradient Map and customize it to create my own. So I'll click on the Editor, go down here to the darker tones and say in these darker tones, I want some blues in there. I'm gonna try to find the right blue. You can control the brightness by where you click or the darkness. You can see different, it's gonna give us different looks. Initially though what I tend to do is just set it somewhere and just get an idea for a color. Then of course go in and change my Blending Mode to Soft Light because I want the original color there.
So we can see how, yeah I'm kind of creating this nice contrast, but the whites are a little bit too white. The blues I need to shift. Now I'll go back and say with the blues, what would happen if we had just a little bit less hue there, click OK. The whites, what would happen if it wasn't quite so bright? So I'm just gonna bring it down. Can you see how I'm kind of recovering detail there in the whites of the image? Actually now that I see that, I think it looked a little better, nice and bright, maybe right around there.
Maybe with a tint, just a subtle tint of color in that like that. Okay, well it's all about customizing it, fine tuning it, finding just the right look. Here we have I think a pretty cool look for the photograph. Let me zoom in so you can actually see the subject there a little bit better. Here's our before and after. Okay, well, let's continue the conversation. To do that, I'll go to another photograph, bring this one over so we can see that here. Next I'm gonna go to an image which I captured in one of my other courses.
It was a five-day photography course. Buried a ladder in the sand and had my buddy Owen climb up on it. With this one, I want to do what we did previously. Just add some more blues into the deeper tones. Then also apply a Curves Adjustment. So here I want to talk about stacking up effects. We'll click on the Adjustment Layer icon here, change our Layer Blending Mode to Soft Light. Typically that's what I'm using with this technique. Then I'm gonna go to my Editor and say, hey I want to bring in blues there.
I need blue into those deeper areas in the image. I want to try to experiment with finding the right blue that we have there. I'm looking at the clouds. Do I want a bright blue, do I want a dark blue? I think dark's better, don't you? So we'll go ahead and click that. Now for the whites, we could decide as we've seen before, do we want it to be pure white or do we want to drop it down? Sometimes when you're looking for whites, as you start to add or drop this down, you may find that you have a little bit of color there.
If you want to remove it, you can always drag this over, or you can just type out 0. When you type out 0, it removes any color Saturation. This is Hue, Saturation, and Brightness, H-S-B. So you can always type in there in order to make that correction. Here I'll click OK in order to apply that, and click OK. Now here we have the effect, before and after. Kinda makes it a little more dreamlike. But I want brighter light on the subject, so we go to Curves on Curves Adjustment. We pay attention to the subject there, ignore everything for a moment, brighten that up.
Go over here to my Mask for the Curves Adjustment and Invert. Then I'll grab the Brush Tool. Tap the B key to select the Brush Tool. I'm gonna paint with white with a nice big brush. So I'll just tap the right bracket to even make that brush bigger. I'm just looking to bring in a little bit of light here into this part of the image, kind of draw the viewer into the center of the frame a little bit. Then I'll Feather this out, which will just soften up my brush strokes so they are quite so noticeable. I'm looking for just the right amount of Feather so it's a little bit more of just kind of a subtle, light snap in that area.
Why I wanted to show you this example was just to illustrate the idea of stacking up effects. Very rarely is it just one adjustment. You know that already, right? You make a couple of those adjustments, and it's the combined total which help you to craft the look. All right, well let's look at one final example. Here I'll go back to my images that we have here, select this guy, Evan. Press F to go to Full Screen. Evan's a surfer, just got out of the water, has that big surfer grin. Here I'm gonna go for a couple of adjustments.
The first one is Gradient Map and open up the Editor. With the Editor I'm gonna look for a blue and then also a nice yellow here. So I'm gonna go for my blue, go for a yellow, bring in good yellow there, and then change that Layer Blending Mode to Soft Light, which gives me, allrighty just like that, love it. I love the look, I love the way that this just, I don't know, it helps your image not look so digital sometimes.
It just has this little bit of different feeling to it. Then I'm gonna stack up one more effect, which is to click on the Adjustment Layer icon. For black and white, drop that Blending Mode down to Soft Light. That this is gonna remove a touch of the color, add some contrast. I'm gonna just find the right spot for that as well as for my gradient. Bring that back just a little bit there, and that crafts the look. Again, wanting to illustrate the idea of stacking up the effects.
All right, well there you have it. A look at how we can work with Gradient Tone Mapping. I hope that this has been helpful for you, and as always, if you ever have any topics or ideas or just some feedback you want to share with me, you can always reach me by going to my website, chrisorwig.com/ptw for Photo Tools Weekly. Fill out the form there, send me your ideas, would love to hear from you. Once again, thanks for joining me, see you next time.