The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2. | 2 | WebReference

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2. | 2

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2.



Opacity and Color Stops

Stops Options

Editing Your Gradient

Setting up your gradient requires adding color stops to the bottom of the gradient bar to control the application of color to the tones in the image. To add a color stop, click just below the gradient bar and then drag the stop to the position on the gradient bar where you want to locate it. The color of the stop can be changed in several ways:

The opacity of the color application can be controlled by the opacity stops set on the top of the gradient bar. If you choose color carefully, the colors you apply should affect simply the color you want to see.

The image to which you will be applying the Gradient Map can be converted to grayscale if you like, but this isn't necessary; the map will work on the image tonality independently of current color. In some cases, it may actually be easiest to leave the color in the image so you can use the existing colors as sample color for the enhancement. Different images will require different handling depending on the color that exists and what you want to accomplish. You may want to adjust image tone or separate out image areas before applying gradient maps.

Applying a Gradient Map

One of the simplest applications of a gradient is to use it to make tone adjustments in a grayscale image. In fact, the Gradient Editor can be used just like a Levels or Curves adjustment (we'll look at how to make Levels and Curves adjustments in the next chapter).

Try this simple Gradient Map application to adjust image tone:

1. Open any flattened black-and-white image (or open a color image, flatten the image, click the Split Luminosity Hidden Power tool in the PowerSeparations category of Effects, shut off the Color layer, and flatten again). If the image is in Grayscale mode, change it to RGB mode.

2. Press D on the keyboard to reset the Foreground and Background colors on the toolbox.

3. Open a Gradient Map by choosing Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Click OK on the New Layer dialog box. This opens the Gradient Map dialog box with the Foreground-to-Background gradient default.

4. Click the Gradient Used For Grayscale Mapping swatch on the dialog box. This opens the Gradient Editor.

5. Click directly on the white color stop at the right of the gradient preview bar. This reveals a color midpoint (small gray diamond) in the center of the bar at the bottom.

When you click a stop to activate it, diamond-shaped markers appear to either side of the stop, between it and the next stop. These midpoints can be adjusted to affect the application of the gradient. Shifting the midpoint to the left increases the influence of the right stop; shifting the midpoint to the right increases the influence of the left stop. Adjust the color markers while viewing the image to get the best results.

6. Position the Gradient Editor so you can see your image, and move the slider right and then left of center while watching what happens to the image. (You may have to release the slider to see the result). Moving the slider left should lighten the image, and moving it right should darken it.

This simple application remaps the tone of the image based on the position of the slider. You can create far more complex tonal adjustments by adding color and opacity stops to the preview bar.

On the Hidden Power CD, you'll find an image titled oceansun.psd (Figure 2.9), taken at sunrise. This example is selected specifically to show how dramatic a Gradient Map change can be. Because the image is a sunrise, the colors are limited to mostly warm colors (reds and yellows). The stops and adjustments noted in the following exercise will work only on this image. Applying the color with gradients is an art more than a science. Results of this sort are steeped in trial and error. I created the result here by placing and adjusting markers, knowing only approximately where they would fall: brighter colors in the lighter half of the tone. You will need to experiment a little when placing stops to adjust other images— even when attempting the same effect—because tone in each exposure will be different.

Figure 2.9 The colors in the original sunrise are dulled yellows, oranges, and grays, but the results can be made more dramatic by using a Gradient Map.

In the following exercise, you will use Gradient Maps for tone and color adjustment in separate steps. First you'll want to darken up the image a little so that the image will accept some more saturated colors (remembering that tone and color work together). Once you've darkened the image, you can apply color to get a dramatic color result. You'll need to make sure existing stops in the gradient are the correct color and add some stops. When you get to the color, you'll make light areas of the image yellow, and deepen that color toward red to imitate the effect sunrise lighting produces. Darker areas of the image will reflect blues from the water.

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: December 27, 2004