Color toning in Photoshop made simple: Gradient maps are like customizable Instagram filters


posted Monday, July 11, 2016 at 4:49 PM EST


The popularity of Instagram filters -- you know the ones -- makes it clear that there's definitely a desire for color toning among the general population. A subtle artistic touch is important, though; filters are often heavy-handed and don't allow for much fine-tuned control. Phlearn's Aaron Nace discusses a method below to utilize gradient maps in Photoshop to give your images harmonious color tones that standard software filters cannot offer.

Color toning an image using a gradient map is quite simple. The gradient map assesses an image's light levels, and you can choose to apply selected colors to particular light levels. For example, you can tone darker areas cool and lighter areas warm. Photoshop comes with a variety of pre-installed gradients, but you can easily load new ones too. Interestingly, Photoshop comes with a variety of gradients that aren't shown by default, including Color Harmonies, which are well-suited for photographs in particular.

If you're familiar with histograms, gradient maps are similar but more straightforward. In the video below, you can see how they work and the variety of adjustments you can make.

To see more tutorials from Phlearn, check out their YouTube channel and website. For more ways to apply special color effects in Photoshop, see this Adobe Help article.

(Seen via Photography Bay