photoshop creative

How to use Gradient Maps to change atmosphere in Photoshop

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
April 7, 2012

The Gradient Map adjustment layers are ideal for altering the mood of an image. They mould into the highlights and shadows of an image, using a colour gradient

They work with blend modes to adapt the lighting in an image and tint the hues for an interesting effect. Here’s how to apply them…



gradient map adjustment

Step 1 – Add the adjustment

Apply the adjustment through the Layers palette, because this way it comes with a mask too.

Gradient maps adjustment layer

Step 2 – Set blend mode and Opacity

You can do this step either after or before applying the gradient. Doing it before, however, lets you see the affects of each colour as you go. Set its blend mode to Color Burn and lower its Opacity to 50%.

Step 3 – Set colour of gradient

By clicking into the Gradient Map’s Editor, you can define the colour. We went for a grey to orange, but this will depend on your image.

Step 4 – Try out blend modes

Changing the blend mode of the gradient’s layer will alter the mood. Try Soft Light and Multiply, for examples, to see what kind of effect you end up with.