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Gradient Maps for B&W and Color Toning

By Elizabeth LePage  ·  Issue: January/February 2012 (V9N1)

Elizabeth delves into the wonderful flexibility found in Gradient Map adjustment layers, showing you how you can use the Gradient Editor to create black and white images and photos with a warm-toned look.


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34 Replies to Gradient Maps for B&W and Color Toning:

  1. ruth

    October 3, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I found this video to be extremely helpful and easy to understand. I am pretty much a novice at PSE even though I have used it for a long time.

  2. Jayne

    October 3, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Thanks! Very easy to follow video. I will have fun experimenting with this technique.

  3. David

    October 3, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Just had some fun with this technique. Didn’t even know you could do it with a gradient map!
    Thanks for a very clear and easy to follow tutorial!! :-)

    Used here (Next to adding noise and a vignet):

    • Elizabeth

      October 3, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      That looks fantastic David, I’m glad you tried it out!

      • David

        October 4, 2011 at 9:22 am

        Thanks! Keep those nice tutorials coming! ;-)

  4. William

    October 3, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Thank you Elizabeth! A great tip that creates beautiful results.

  5. Dan

    October 3, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks for the great tutorial – very easy to follow and thorough. I’ll have to try some of the toning techiques.

  6. Lee

    October 4, 2011 at 7:51 am

    SUPER tutorial, Liz! Every 3rd or 4th tutorial you (all) do is new territory for me. I REALLY appreciate it.

    BTW, it sounds as if choosing colors for the gradient sweep is pretty much a hit-and-miss procedure. Are there any shortcuts for that, or is that just the way it is?

  7. Doris

    October 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Wow, great video! I learned so much. The method was presented in such an easy and thorough manner that I could use it right away on my photos. Can’t wait to come up with more gradients to use. I followed your suggestion about the teal/pink gradient and found it to be very helpful in toning photos that might be too warm. It works like a champ! Thank you!

  8. Ann-Muriel

    October 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Great video. I had seen other tutorials on gradient maps but this one was one of the clearest and made me better understood how this tool worked. Thanks!

  9. Lynette

    October 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks for explaining this technique so clearly. It was a very good video. Would you consider telling us what the RBG colour numbers are in the colour picker thingy that you used to make your teal to pink custom gradient and your gold gradient? I do a lot of portraits and would be interested in trying the ones you have already created. I suppose you can tell that I haven’t used the gradient tool before and I’ve only used the colour picker thingy a couple of times :)

  10. Roy

    October 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Wow, thanks for tutorial, sure makes the colours pop.

  11. David

    October 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Just when I was beginning to think there was nothing new to learn with pse, this came along. WOW. Now I realize there is so much more to learn. I just shot a wedding for some friends where the lights were off because they used mini christmas like lights for the decore. Needless to say, the color balance is a nightmare for me. I think this may be the answer I for which I have been looking. This has been the only tutorial about gradient maps to really inspire me. Thank you forever! I really believe this little gem will bring my game up several notches.
    I also would like to cheat a little and like to know your teal to pink formula if you don’t mind.
    I have always enjoyed your tutorials and learn a lot, but this one, I think has my status from just student, to number one fan. Thanks again.

  12. Lynette

    October 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Having read David’s comment I am sure there are a lot of people out there who take portraits and who need to correct lighting in them. Would it be possible, Elizabeth for you to do another video presentation on Using Gradient Maps On Portraits? Then you might be able to show us different lighting situations and maybe include your gradient map recipes in the Cheat Sheet. Of course this is assuming that you have absolutely nothing else to do with your time :) Thanks anyway for your great work, no matter what your answer is.

  13. Joseph

    October 12, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I too would like to know your color numbers for creating a teal-to-pink gradient map for portrait toning.

  14. Mary

    October 15, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Love this tutorial. I hope you do more tutorials especially for portraits. I too would love to know the RGB colors you used to set the teal to Pink gradient.

    I have been a PSE user for years, but never considered using the gradient for color in my photos; I usually just used the black and white it to blend photos together.

    Thanks again for this great tutorial.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  15. carol

    October 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I Have always downloaded your turtorals before and had no problem watching them. Lately I havn’at been able to watch the nwe downloads. Have you change any thing?. Do you have any sugestions?.


    • mike

      October 19, 2011 at 12:06 am

      What a marvellous idea. I can see that I will have to revisit some of my ‘finished’ images.

      Elizabeth, your explanation was excellent; well presented and well paced. Even I understood it! (I think)
      Make some more please.
      Mike Hamerton

    • mike

      October 19, 2011 at 12:10 am

      Me too. Bayla suggested I download VLC video player. I did so and all my tuts now run. When you want to watch a tut right click>open with.
      Hope it works Mike Hamerton

  16. Charles

    October 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you, Elizabeth! Gradient Map is one of the less obvious features of PSE. Explaining the technical aspects of an arcane feature such as this does not reveal its value nearly as well as showing a good, practical application.

    Chuck Fisher

  17. THOMAS

    November 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm


  18. Alfred

    January 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Dear Elizabeth, thank for opening a new window into more possibilities for me to play with and find out some new ways of doing things, as a biginner i am constantly surprised at the many ways that wonderful effects can be arrived at , thank you “Ben”

  19. Greg

    January 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Love it! I have a couple of photos I have played with and played with and they just don’t work for me. This little tutorial has given me exactly what I need. Thanks Elizabeth.

  20. Claude

    January 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for this great tutorial Elizabeth. To me Gradient Map was kind of a mystery and you did help to make it quite easy to understand. Bravo!

    In a next edition of PSE or a next tutorial, would it be possible for you to explain your thinking behind the choice of the two colors for a customized gradiant for any kind of picture ? This probably sounds like a dumb question to you but it is quite a complex one to me.

    Thank you for giving us the receipe for your ¨teal Рto pink¨ gradient in the Jan / Feb issue of PSE.


  21. judith

    January 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I have had pse 8 for a year and stumbled on to this website. This is the first tutorial I tried – I hope they are all like this. This made so much sense. I might actually finally start understanding this program. Onward and upward.

  22. Matt

    April 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    This really helped perk up some wildflower pics I recently took during this dry spring. It really salvaged the shots. I’m not sure I understand it, but it sure worked!

  23. JoAnn

    April 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I’ve been working with this most of the day – first with the magazine instructions and then with your video. What I do doesn’t transfer to the black and white photo. I’m sure I’m just missing one little step as I think its a great system but it doesn’t change my picture. Any help about what I might be doing wrong?

  24. Michael

    September 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Nice video. Great info. That model had some big ass hands!!

  25. Jon

    December 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I can’t watch the video. I get a pop up that says: ‘Windows Media Player cannot play the file. The Player might not support the file type or might not support the codec that was used to compress the file.’
    Any suggestions for me to try?

  26. Charles

    September 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Dear Liz:

    I love this technique This video and the associated PDF article are excellent. My problem has to do with saving my gradients, No matter what I do, I cannot save my gradients from one editing session to the next. I am using PSE11. I can get to a Save dialog, but I can’t tell what they are asking me for. The Adobe help files are most unhelpful. A video tutorial walking us through the Save procededure would be extremely helpful. I fact a major tutorial on the whole Preset Manager would be very helpful.


    Chuck Fisher

  27. Gerard

    October 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Hello, I decided to test the Gradient Maps for toning and your video was very easy to follow however, I think that I missed something because after I finish, I saw that everything looked the way it was supposed to look, saved my preset and my picture. Then, I went to open the photograph and I saw that it was converted to a PS type image. I tried to open it using PSE 11 and PS Adobe Photoshop CS5 and neither program would work!!!

    Can you help me?

    Thank you kindly,

    Gerard Galindo

  28. Shannon

    April 28, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Wow, I have been struggling over this one portrait that I am editing …and you just gave me my answer to fix it!! THANK-YOU!

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