Gradient Maps more like SLAYdient Maps


What’s good? It’s Miki, A.K.A. super ultra amazing genius artist goddess MIKI. Today I’m gonna show you guys how I use gradient maps in my work. By using gradient maps, it’s super easy to go from this...


What is a gradient map, exactly?

I'm only explaining this for the people who might feel more comfortable using this technique if they understand what's going on beneath the hood. Feel free to skip ahead if you don't care about that and just wanna slap colors onto your greyscale art.

All a gradient map really does is it assigns a color to the brightness values. For example:

The top one is a normal greyscale value chart while the bottom one is a gradient mapped chart. Like the name suggests, you can map out which color corresponds to which value then the program fills in the blanks and creates a gradient. We're going to use this to turn the greyscale image you already have into an underpainting to then layer flat colors onto.

Time to ACTUALLY use the gradient map!

Click on Layer, New Correction Layer, then Gradient map. This window should pop up.

The little arrows pointing up at certain parts of the bar up top are called "nodes." The nodes correspond with the value that they're under, indicating that this value has a specific color assigned to it. You can click and drag nodes to move them around. You can also add more by clicking the bottom of the bar where the little marks are. You can change what color are by clicking on the grey rectangle next to the color picker.

This is what my picture looks like with one of the preset gradient maps slapped on. Honestly, you could just leave it at that. It's up to you. It looks pretty good but we're going to go a few steps further from here.

You can customize a gradient map that fits your needs. It really depends on your preference but all you need to do here is create an underpainting for yourself to paint over. In even simpler terms, you just pick out what shadow colors would be the most flattering. I don't really have a set rule for this, but I find pinkish-reddish tones are the best for skin shading in general.

Now that the hardest part is done, create a new layer above the gradient map and set the new layer's blend mode to multiply. Now you can just slap your flat colors onto the canvas and it's all good! You've got a unified color scheme AND you know your values are in check. Feel free to make another layer, set this one's blend mode to overlay, and put in some highlights too. It's all up to you to experiment and make this trick really work for you!

I don't think I've ever made a proper tutorial like this before so I hope I helped. If not... Uh. Help yourself, LOL!!! Sometimes you gotta put your hand in the oven to see if you're hot or whatever.

Thanks for checking out my tutorial!

Feel free to check out my YouTube channel, BTW! I upload every Thursday at 12PM EST!



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