Chapter 1 | Introduction 1 Videos (1:30m)
  • 01 - What You'll Learn
Chapter 2 | Tools & Techniques 5 Videos (1:24h)
  • 01 - The Gradient Tool
  • 02 - Gradient Editor
  • 03 - Loading & Saving Gradients
  • 04 - Gradient Adjustment Layers
  • 05 - Gradient Maps
Chapter 3 | Examples 4 Videos (1:21h)
  • 01 - Add a Warm Sunset
  • 02 - Diffusion Dither Gradient for Graphics
  • 03 - Color Tone & Black and White with Gradient Maps
  • 04 - Banding-Free Gradients
Chapter 4 | Installing Custom Gradients 4 Videos (13:27m)
  • 01 - Black & White Gradients
  • 02 - Color Tone Gradients
  • 03 - Sky Gradients
  • 04 - Sun Flare Gradients
Catalog  >  PRO Tutorials  >  Photoshop Tutorials  >  Light Effects & Color Toning with Gradients in Photoshop

Light Effects & Color Toning with Gradients in Photoshop

Imagine a gradient. What comes to mind? We’re willing to bet that you’re picturing one color gradually fading into another. While simple color transitions are great for backgrounds and birthday cards, gradients in Photoshop can do so much more.

Learn how to use the power of gradients for blending layers and adjustments, professional color toning, and for creating photo-realistic effects like lens flares and light leaks. This tutorial also includes 35 custom Photoshop gradients that you can use right away to add amazing effects to your photos!

14 Video Tutorials|35 Custom Gradients|Instructor: Aaron Nace

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AFTER

BEFORE

Epic Sunsets


Whether you shoot weddings or landscapes, gradients can help you enhance any sunset with realistic lens flares and lighting effects.

Professional Style & Color

DRAW ATTENTION TO A SUBJECT

ORIGINAL

Gradients Redefined

We want to change the way you think about gradients in Photoshop. More than just for creating basic backgrounds, gradients are an extremely powerful tool for blending effects and creating smooth transitions. From color toning, to graphic design, we show you every application.

Add Style & Color

Coloring can be some of the most fun you have in Photoshop and, as it turns out, gradients can make the process even more enjoyable. Add style and color to your images with eye-catching, professional results.

Enhance Subjects

Learn how to use gradients to draw more attention to a subject with natural-looking exposure adjustments and with subtle vignettes.

COLOR THE HIGHLIGHTS & SHADOWS

ORIGINAL

The Gradient Tool

Learn to use the standard Gradient Tool in ways you never thought possible. From using gradients on Layer Masks for smooth blending, to creating modern effects for logos and graphic design.

Banding-Free Gradients

In the age digital compression, we’ve all probably seen gradients where the color transitions are blocky and too well-defined. We show you how to create a gradient in a 16-bit workspace and apply it to an image for silky smooth transitions between color.

Gradient Maps

Color tone an image with precision using Gradient Maps in Photoshop. Add deep browns and greens into the shadows of a photo and complement those with bright yellows and reds in the highlights. Or use any combination of colors to develop your own unique style and to help your photos stand out.

ADD LIGHT FLARES

ORIGINAL

Download & Install Gradients

You will learn how to create, save, download, and then use many different types of gradients in Photoshop. Perfect for developing a faster workflow and for saving the looks that you love.

The Gradient Editor

We take you on a complete tour of every button, setting, and feature of the Gradient Editor. Understanding this dialog is essential for using and applying every kind of gradient possible in Photoshop.

Light Leaks & Sun Flares

Everyone loves epic landscapes and romantic sunsets. Learn how to use gradients to enhance the mood of a scene using realistic light effects.

Download 35 Custom
Photoshop Gradients

We include 35 custom Photoshop gradients that will help you do everything from apply professional coloring to your photos, to adding realistic lighting effects to help your images pop.

Stunning Black & White

AFTER

BEFORE

Go Monochrome


Use gradients to enhance shapes, textures, composition, and contrast for perfect black and white photos.

REALISTIC LENS FLARES & LIGHT EFFECTS

ORIGINAL

Black & White

Adding color is fine but sometimes black and white is the way to go. Add contrast and put more emphasis on shapes, textures, and composition with gradients in Photoshop.

35 Gradients Included

We’ve created 35 custom gradients that can be used for color toning, black and white, light flares, special effects, and more. Learn how to make your own or download and use our PHLEARN exclusive gradients to spice up your photos.

Lens Flares

Photoshop has a built-in Lens Flare Filter, but the results are not always convincing. Learn how to build lens flares from scratch using colors from the image for a photo-realistic look.

DIFFUSION DITHER EFFECT

ORIGINAL

SIMULATE COLOR FILM

ORIGINAL

Gradients for Graphic Design

Gradients are frequently used by graphic designers for logos and banners. We take a departure from photo editing to show you how to make a diffusion dither gradient, a unique effect perfect for modern graphics.

Smooth Transitions, Natural Effects

Gradients are commonly thought of as transitions between two or more colors. While that is sometimes the case, gradients can be used in Photoshop to transition between almost anything! Whether you’re blending colors, layers, or special effects, gradients can make it happen.

Enhance a Sky

If you’ve ever taken a beautiful landscape photo but the sky was washed out or devoid of detail, gradients can help! Learn how to use gradients to add realistic color and details into a sky without affecting structures or features on the landscape below.

Class Instructor

Aaron Nace

PHLEARN Founder – Class Instructor

Aaron Nace is a photographer, Photoshop artist and founder of PHLEARN. He is the #1 Photoshop instructor in the world with millions of YouTube subscribers.

View More Classes by Aaron Nace

Reviews

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Brilliant tutorial. Great pacing, and Aaron keeps the delivery fun and engaging throughout. Have always wanted to learn more specifically about gradients and gradient maps, and I know already that this will come in very handy in my workflow. Thanks, Aaron and Phlearn! Looking forward to digging into some more tutorials.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Another great, easy to follow tutorial.

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wow! So amazing and easy to follow! Thank You 🙂

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Using gradients is going to be great fun!

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Excellent

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    AMAZING!

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great tutorial. Great easy to follow instruction. Best subscription I’ve purchased, yet. Endless tips and tricks. Even if you think you know photoshop, there’s so much more to learn!

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great tutorial. Learned a lot. Glad I got the PRO subscription. Worth every dime

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    2/3 of the way through, great so far. I’ve used these for years on a superficial level but never had the full picture of editing gradient maps and how to apply them. Coherent, well-paced explanations as always at Phlearn. But I thought I’d add a note about the NOISE gradient type. Best (only?) use I’ve seen for this is to create the video glitch effect on images. Dodson has a YouTube with that starting here: https://youtu.be/Wmxf3m2o13k?t=1313 Uses the noise gradients to create selections, then shifts color bands in the image by turning those selections into channel-based masks and moving them with transform (e.g. Expand the red channel only for the random lines; shift sideways the blue channel only for those lines). Neat effect.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Well done. It was nice to see something new since I was not experienced with gradients and have not seen much coverage with them on Phlearn. I would also like to see future videos with the last chapter seen here. It was great to get a recap/summary of the important parts instead of trying to find specific details through hours of other videos.

  11. Rated 5 out of 5

    Thanks for that Tutorial about Gradient Retouching – learned alot! 🙂

  12. Rated 5 out of 5

    really good

  13. Rated 5 out of 5

    Thank you Aaron for this very interesting tutorial about Gradients. Again it expands my knowledge of Photoshop and just like you I Iove Gradients and the possibilities of it to be creative with pictures.

  14. Rated 5 out of 5

    Awesome – just what I was looking for to improve my landscape photographs

  15. Rated 5 out of 5

    Fascinating tutorial and explained so simply. Looking forward to playing with this technique which seems to have so many uses.

  16. Rated 5 out of 5
  17. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wonderful course explaining the use of gradient tool, map and fill layers. These are very useful topics rarely covered in other tutorials. Easy to understand. As usual, Aaron is a master teacher!

FAQ

This tutorial includes 14 Sample Images & 35 Custom Gradients. Download the sample images and assets at the top of the page.

You’ll find answers to some of the most common questions in our Help Center. If what you need isn’t covered, you can submit a question to our all-star customer support team and they’ll get back to you right away!

We suggest using the latest version of Photoshop, but our tutorials are designed to be compatible with CS4, CS5, CS6 & Photoshop CC. Get the latest version of Photoshop from Adobe.

PHLEARN Tutorials are easy to follow, even for beginners.

If you need to learn the basics of Photoshop, we recommend watching the Photoshop Basics Collection and Photoshop 101-301 to familiarize yourself with all of the tools and capabilities that the software has to offer.

Yes, all tutorials on PHLEARN are included in a PHLEARN PRO Subscription.

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