Today, let’s have fun with Gradient Maps…
Gradient Maps are a great way to color grade photos, since they map dark, light, and midtone values according to a pre-defined gradient. This can easily define a “look” for photos that might otherwise be hard to accomplish.
Although I am not a user of Photoshop, our “arch rival” has a wonderful group of gradient maps called “Photographic Toning” that are specifically designed to color grade photos. Although you have to drill down through a few panels and dialog boxes to find them (and you sort of have to know they’re there in the first place) they are a truly nice addition. Also, they are easily obtained by anyone.
But, as they say, there’s the rub. Affinity Photo cannot import Photoshop gradient maps. Affinity Photo can store pre-defined gradients in the Swatches studio, but for some unknown reason the stored gradients are not available from the Gradient Map studio panel. Gradient Maps can be stored as presets, and can be chosen from the Adjustments panel, but I don’t believe they can be easily exported from one computer and brought into a different one.
So… after a long couple of days of transcription, I have created a set of Macros that apply each of the 38 Photographic Toning gradient maps. Since macros are easy to store, and to share, I am making them available for anyone who wants them.
There are actually 2 sets of Macros included - each as an easy-to-import Category from the Library panel. The first group of Macros is called “Photographic Toning Gradients” and these are named according to the gradient map they apply. Each macro creates a Gradient Map layer, applies the appropriate color values, and names the layer according to the gradient map it applied. The second set of macros is called “Photographic Toning Gradients - reduced.” This category also applies the gradient maps in a similar fashion, but then reduces the opacity of the layer to 30%. This reduces the effect of the Gradient Map, and produces a much subtler effect.
Here is an image that shows the full-strength versions of all 38 gradient maps.
And here is a photo to which I’ve applied a full-strength gradient map, and also a reduced-strength gradient map.
These macro categories are included in the ZIP file attached to this post, along with a Letter sized JPG that includes samples of the gradient maps. Also included in the ZIP file is another macro category that includes one more macro. It’s called “Obama Hope Poster” and, as you might have guessed, it turns any photo into an Obama Hope-style poster. Just because…
Please enjoy them!
Photographic Toning Gradient Maps.zip
Select the pixel layer from the Layers tab (eg Background), then go to Select - Tonal Range - Select Highlights. This will create a selection of just the highlights.
Shift+CMD click the pixel layer to select areas of luminance. This will usually select more of the image than Select Highlights.
You can then add adjustments/filters/masks to manipulate these highlight areas, e.g. I like to add a gaussian blur with an Overlay blend mode which creates a really nice diffuse light effect.