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P: Gradient editor needs a few improvements

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LEGEND ,
May 09, 2013 May 09, 2013

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It is almost impossible to use the gradient editor to simulate blending between lights, because it draws a straight line through RGB space. It would be good to be able to select HSL and LAB colour spaces for the gradient editor, and it would be even better if you could make bezier curves through RGB space, like the free tool at http://www.foddy.net/2010/10/gentle-g... is pretty frustrating that there was more flexibility in Deluxe Paint IV's gradient tool 23 years ago than there is in Photoshop's gradient tool now.

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correct answers 1 Correct answer

Adobe Employee , Oct 26, 2021 Oct 26, 2021
UPDATE! In today's new release of Photoshop we have enabled multiple gradient interpolation options: Perceptual, the new default method: smoothness controls interpolated using OKlab color space Linear: interpolates using linear color space Classic: interpolates using the selected working space.  Learn more here: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/gradient-interpolation.html  Special thanks to @bennettf96052341 for his gracious feedback 

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LEGEND ,
May 09, 2013 May 09, 2013

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It sounds like you haven't used the gradient editor - which does use splines, and can interpolate colors any way you like.

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New Here ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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No, that's false. You can move the handles on te control points but you can't change the orientation of each point or handle in colour space. And you just can't make a smooth gradient that mimics (for example) a sky, a sunset, a spotlight, a flame, or any other emissive form of blending. I had to write myself a custom tool to do these things. It isn't hard to solve: one way is to allow users to make gradients in HSL and LAB colour spaces, and another way is to give users full control over the colour curve in 3-space, as I do in that tool.

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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Let me give you a simple example. Suppose I'm trying to blend from orange (255,128,0) to blue (0,0,255) for a skyline or sunset. I need it to look smooth, so I'm trying to use as few control points as possible. In Photoshop by default it blends through desaturated purple to get there, which isn't physical. I want it to bend through light blue to simulate Rayleigh scattering. So I add a dim, pale cyan control point to the middle of the gradient. But now I have this ridiculous hard line in the middle of the gradient, making it look extremely artificial.

Here's photoshop's result:


And here's my tool's result (also: the desired result):

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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I should add that it was faster to make the gradient using my tool than it was to use Photoshop's editor.

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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And I realize you can turn up the smoothness on Photoshop's gradient, but the artificial middle band remains highly visible.

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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In the interests of fairness, here's Photoshop's effort with 100% smoothness applied. Still unacceptable.

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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In the interests of fairness, here's Photoshop's effort with 100% smoothing applied. Still unacceptable.

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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"change the orientation of each point or handle in colour space." makes no sense.

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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That's the same gradient with the middle spread out slightly.

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LEGEND ,
May 10, 2013 May 10, 2013

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And that is almost identical to your "desired" result above.

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New Here ,
May 15, 2013 May 15, 2013

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you're not crazy Bennet, your tool's result is much better.
Heck, I'd even like to use it.

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LEGEND ,
May 15, 2013 May 15, 2013

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Here is the gradient you get using your 2 end colors in Photoshop.
This is the mathematical result of interpolating those colors.


And for a physical simulation of blending light, you would need to use a gamma 1.0 colorspace, which looks like this:

Or with gray in the middle:

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LEGEND ,
May 15, 2013 May 15, 2013

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BTW - the halfway point between 255,128,0 and 0,0,255 should be 128, 64, 128 -- which is desaturated violet, not gray. You are trying to simulate something that is not the mathematical gradient between those 2 end colors.
You'd need complimentary colors (255,255,0 and 0,0,255) to get gray in the middle.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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So Chris, let me get this clear: you're saying I need to change the color space of my photoshop document in order to get attractive gradients? And if I want to tweak how a particular gradient works, I have to change the colour space again?

Even if that was an acceptable workflow, the preview you get in the gradient tool window doesn't use the current colour space, which reduces this to a very slow, annoying process of trial-and-error.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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"That's the same gradient with the middle spread out slightly." the point is there is no good-looking way to spread out the middle point using photoshop!

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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It's not the same at all.

I honestly don't get why you're being so hostile to this suggestion. I'm trying to help you make a fairly simply tweak that would greatly improve the usefulness of the application to me and many others like me. You haven't changed or improved this aspect of PS in at least a decade - it's very strange!

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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Yes, you can achieve the same gradient in Photoshop pretty easily. I'm not sure why you're struggling so much with the gradient editor.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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No, just that you seem to be after an effect that doesn't normally occur in a gamma 2.2 space with just 2 colors, but is closer to what happens in a gamma 1.0 space.

The gradient tool doesn't have a window.
Are you referring to the gradient editor dialog, which does use the current document colorspace for it's preview?

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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Yes, the dialog. If you change the document to LAB color, it still previews gradients in RGB. If you change the document gamma, yes it affects the gradient dialog. But this is still an incredible inefficient way to work! And it means if you're using layers in a gamma 2.2 document, you have to make your gradients in a separate document and paste them across.

Add all this to the fact that changing the colour space still doesn't let you make a gradient that traces an arbitrary curve, rather than a straight line, through colour space.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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Let's do this: why don't you try to recreate this gradient using photoshop. Then put them side by side, to show how close you got, and tell me what your workflow was.

My workflow was: I defined the beginning and end colour, and placed a single bezier handle to tell the curve how to trace itself through RGB space. It took about 15 seconds.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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do you really think it makes no sense, or do you mean to say you didn't understand it? RGB pixels are located in 3-dimensional RGB space. A gradient is a line or a curve that passes through that space, and you set the position of points on that curve. In photoshop, you have no control over the tangents of those points. If you were able to set the tangents, you might be able to get more creative control over how the gradient looks.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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How do you figure that the preview is different from the LAB document? The only time it is in RGB is when it draws to the screen, just like the document.

And why would you have to make your gradients in a separate document?

YOU make an arbitrary curve by setting the control points on the gradient - that's been there since Photoshop 4.0.

You really aren't making sense here.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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3 control points: one on each end, one in the middle: 5 seconds if I don't include time spend saving the file and uploading it.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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> And why would you have to make your gradients in a separate document?

Because I don't want to work in 1.0 gamma space most of the time! All my compositions are in standard colour spaces, and I don't want to change them over just so I can make a good-looking gradient.

> How do you figure that the preview is different from the LAB document?

This is really a side topic, but: here's the gradient editor and the output of htat gradient with an image set to LAB. Note: they are not remotely the same:

http://i.imgur.com/k9EUPyI.png

> YOU make an arbitrary curve by setting the control points on the gradient - that's been there since Photoshop 4.0.

It's *not* an arbitrary curve, because you can't set the tangents of the control points.

> You really aren't making sense here.

Thanks for repeatedly telling me I'm not making any sense, by the way. That's really helping things. Are you actually in charge of this functionality or are you just standing in the way of the relevant person finding out about this suggestion?

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LEGEND ,
Jun 08, 2013 Jun 08, 2013

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Chris, seriously. That doesn't look even remotely the same. Are you kidding me?

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