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Using Gradient Maps and Color Replace [Feb. 4th, 2006|09:57 pm]
Hufflepuff Graphic Studio


Hi guys! I was messing around with Photoshop CS last night while working on my dolls, and decided to see what some different settings were that I hadn't really used before. I gotta say, the experimentation worked out wonderfully!

Check out the icon I made:

Because I love you guys, I'm going to tell you what I did. Honestly, a lot of the tutorials out there for this kind of coloring never really work for me. They're too set-in-stone without a lot of room to adjust. But I found out how to do it that allows for adjustments.

Mind you, this is an intermediate to advanced tutorial. You ought to have command of basic design principles and also Photoshop tools before attempting it. (There's a fantastic series of tutorials on Photoshop basics over at itut).

I began with this image from Getty:

I like the picture itself, but I couldn't think of anything to do with it. The green is so neon and LA, whereas the girl reminds me more of Nashville. Luckily, I found the color replacement feature of Photoshop. (Image -> Adjustments -> Replace Color)

The color replacement tool is great. You can click on any spot in the image, and everything else that color will appear white in the box. You can set the "fuzziness" so that more or less gets re-colored. In other words, if you choose '1', only the pixels the exact same shade as the one you clicked on will be replaced. The fuzzier you go, the more variation in the shade to be changed. You can also choose multiple shades or fewer by using the different eyedroppers in the menu.
In the menu box, everything that is black will not change, but everything that is white will. Grey areas will only be changed in relation to how similar they are to the selected color.

For this image, I choose the bright green area and set the fuzziness to about 183. Or else I chose the area near her arm and set it to about 149. At any rate, in my menu box, the girl was mostly black/darkdarkgrey, and the background was mostly white. I then used the three bars at the bottom like I would in the "Hue/Saturation" menu. I fiddled with the hue, lowered the saturation, and upped the brightness until I was happy with the background color.

However, as a whole, the picture was too dull. I wanted a stronger contrast between the colors and the black/white, which meant I wanted the colors to be brighter and more saturated. This is what the "overlay" setting does. So I duplicated the layer and set the new one to overlay. But it was TOO bright, so I lowered the opacity of the second layer until I was satisfied.

This is where I was after replacing the color and duplicating the base on overlay, then resizing it to icon size:

I like to work with my pictures before cropping them to icon-size, because I never know if I'll end up with a cool focus point that wasn't really interesting before messing with the image. With this one, I found that I liked the basic composition as-is and didn't want to crop anything, so I just resized it.

Well, as much as I like this, I wanted to see what the other adjustments did, so I inspected the Gradient Map settings. Basically, the gradient map turns your image into a greyscale, then replaces the shades of black, white, and grey with predefined color on the map. If you have a gradient that is blue on the left and yellow on the right, all the black will become blue and all the white will become yellow. Greys will be more blue or more yellow depending on where they lie in the spectrum. You can make cool Warhol-esque versions of black and white pictures this way.

At any rate, I ended up finding a nifty gradient from 77words's new photo colors gradient pack that, that when used to gradient-fill looks like this:

I duplicated my base (the last one before the gradient!), then used the gradient map on it. It came out looking kinda weird, I gotta say, with the blue and green and camel colors. It also lost a lot of the vibrancy it had had.

I set that layer to "hue" on a low opacity (50 or so), while experimenting. It ended up creating an somewhat sepia-look while still allowing some of the original colors to show through. Plus, the contrast is still strong, instead of dulling like you often get with blue exclusion layers or other methods of coloring.

Note: it is possible to change the colors in a map if, say, your blue is too purple, or your yellow is too dark. Just click on the gradient bar, then click on the tag pointing at the color you want to change. It will appear in the "stops" section. Click it there, and a color palette will appear for you to change it as you like.

Because it looked like an old photo, I shrank the base a bit, added a 5 pixel border, and used a brush from 77words again that mimics light reflecting off a beveled photo edge. There wasn't enough difference between the new border and the photo, so I picked a medium brown from her hair and used it at 50% opacity to frame the outer border both inside and outside.

The result:

Things I hope to have shown with this tutorial:

1. Color replacement is a simple way to turn ugly/clashing colors into matching colors without tons of work.
2. The "overlay" setting when duplicating layers brightens adds saturation to the colors while deepening contrast.
3. Gradient maps are way awesome for color effects and getting more specific results than layers on multiply or hue or whatever.

love, etc,

[User Picture]From: roper_rocks
2006-02-07 04:22 am (UTC)
Oy. I will have to try that next time I actually have time to make new stuff. XD
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[User Picture]From: thisissirius
2006-02-07 10:14 am (UTC)
That tutorial is aesome!

Definitly going to use it! Thanks for posting : )
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[User Picture]From: devils_sidekick
2006-02-07 03:56 pm (UTC)
Hi! Great graphics. I was wondering can you please approve my membership for hh_flourish? Thanks, I am a newly sorted Hufflepuff in HIH.
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: keristars
2006-02-07 09:51 pm (UTC)
I last used PSP version 5, so it's been a few years. But there was a specific brush tool where you would choose a color from your palette, then use the brush to "match hue/color/saturation". You could change the opacity, too, so that instead of going from green to pink completely, it'd only be partially pink. To make it specific areas instead of a whole section, you'd either have to be very careful or use the selection tools to select it first.

I was very disappointed when I switched from PSP5 three or four years ago to Photoshop Elements and they didn't have the same tool! I used it ALL the time. I only learned how to work the replace color feature on Photoshop 7 + CS this past weekend. :P
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