Shinerai's avatar

Tutorial: Adding Color With Gradient Maps

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By Shinerai   |   
Published:
© 2013 - 2020 Shinerai

Description

My progress image for the Yoi painting seems to have been well received, and I've gotten questions in the past about how I add color to my monochrome images. I tried to find some good Gradient Map tutorials to show other deviants, but I had no luck. So I made one myself.

I'm not that great at making tutorials, so I hope it isn't confusing. It's probably not the best for beginners at Photoshop. I hope you enjoy, regardless.
Image size
1387x7196px 7.03 MB
IMAGE DETAILS
Software
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows
Comments231
anonymous's avatar
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KingBatty's avatar
KingBattyHobbyist Digital Artist
literally fucking bless u for this? i made one of my favorite drawings with this u are THE BEST
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
I'm so happy to hear it! I'd love to see what you made, too!
KingBatty's avatar
KingBattyHobbyist Digital Artist
sunset with a side of ass by KingBatty  this is what i made! im not used to the selecting and changing different parts piece by piece thing yet but ill get there!! gotta practice... i dont use photoshop like ever either honestly so i gotta... do some learnin
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, it looks great! The colors are vibrant, and really pop! cx I'd consider it a huge success, haha C: best wishes on your future ones!
KingBatty's avatar
KingBattyHobbyist Digital Artist
thank youuuuu!!! <333
DRamos97's avatar
DRamos97Hobbyist General Artist
What's this? A tutorial? I accept your generosity in sharing this.
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
Yay! I hope it helps. If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them. Feel free to also download this, which has gradient map layers that you can play with:
  Vortex - PSD by Shinerai
Amadoodles's avatar
Thanks for posting this. I've just started trying to learn gradient maps today, and boy do I still have a while to go. You've managed to make yours looks so lovely (especially the colours in the hair). I need to figure out what kind of sorcery it is that you use. Do you have any advice for how best to pick colours? I notice your middle colours here are fairly saturated. I feel unable to really get that right *glares at gradients* 
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
I'm glad you're having fun with gradient maps, and that this old thing could help you! Honestly, gradient maps can still be trial-and-error for me too, even though I've been working with them for a while. I've found that it helps me to establish my light and dark points first. Since your lightest highlight is not always white and your darkest shadow is not always black, it doesn't work to just have your highlight and shadow right on the ends of the gradient scale. I'll set my light to the color I think the brightest point should be, and my dark to a nice shadow color, and then i will slide those two points around on the scale until I am satisfied with the contrast. Once I'm satisfied, I'll click between the two points and establish my midtone color. This may actually impact the shadows a lot - it could blow out your highlights or make the shadows consume your character. If you start your midtone in the middle and try to adjust the color from there, you can then decide if you need 2 midtone points. Sometimes it helps to have a slightly lighter shadow color right in front of the dark point so your shading details don't get lost, etc. I will usually find myself with 4 points on my gradient map at least.

Man it seems like I rambled on a lot and didn't actually share useful information! I really hope that helped.
Amadoodles's avatar
Whew, late reply is late. Sorry about that. I thought I had replied!

Thanks for the feedback on gradient maps. I'll keep it all in mind the next time that I give it a go. :D 
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
Haha no worries! I hope it works for you but if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask cx
Amadoodles's avatar
Thanks : )
EverApril's avatar
Thanks.  I'm new and learning. Never thought to use a gradient map to color.  Phew. No wonder my colorizing looked awful.  Thanks for helping me learn.
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome! I hope it's useful to you!
UszatyArbuz's avatar
UszatyArbuz Digital Artist
What source of magic it is o.o
Anjona's avatar
AnjonaHobbyist General Artist
This looks so cool! Can't wait to see if it works with my version (I have only Elements). I really like how you explained everything. I don't feel confused at all, and it's the thing that sometimes annoys me in other tutorials. :P
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! I'm glad that the explanations were easy to understand, though I hope to redo this tutorial eventually C: I also hope it works in Elements. While Elements is really limited, I think it's definitely a sturdy program. I used PSE2.0 for a really long time.
Anjona's avatar
AnjonaHobbyist General Artist
It's definitely not bad, however seeing all those cool tools in the tutorials for full PS makes me a bit jealous :D But slowly I learn how to use it and the results are better and better so I suppose it's quite a good tool in skillfull hands. :P
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
Do you use Photoshop Elements? (:
Anjona's avatar
AnjonaHobbyist General Artist
Well yes, but I'm not skilled in it. :P Mine version is 6.0, it came with my tablet. I've been thinking about trying other software, like Sai or Krita or Manga Studio, but I still have to come to it. Do you have any experience with those? :)
Shinerai's avatar
ShineraiHobbyist Digital Artist
Oh yes, Elements came with my tablet too! I'm afraid that I don't have any experience with those other programs. I've pretty much stuck with Photoshop since I decided I liked it! I know people that use Sai though.
Anjona's avatar
AnjonaHobbyist General Artist
I see! Thank you for the reply though! :D
frampel's avatar
do you know if this can be done with paint tool sai as well? ( I dno't think so, but it's better to ask it now than to regret it later ^^"..!)
HalcyonMoufette's avatar
HalcyonMoufetteHobbyist General Artist
SAI doesn't have a built-in function for gradient maps, but if you only need the effect of a map with two colors in it you can get a somewhat similar effect by applying the base color on a separate layer (set to overlay or lumi and shade) and then erasing everywhere you don't want to be that color, selecting the contents of the layer, inverting the selection, and filling the inverted selection with your other color. Again, it's not a straight substitute but you can still do some neat stuff with it.
anonymous's avatar
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