A Monochromatic Gradient Map in Photoshop

There are many reasons why you would want to make a monochromatic version of an image – some reasons may be that the color scheme of a selected photo doesn’t work with the other colors of a layout, or that the layout itself is intended to work with just one color as well as black and white. This tutorial will use the gradient map adjustment layer to create a monochromatic image and provide a lot of flexibility for any further adjustments.

1.Open a full-color image or use the one provided with this tutorial. Go to the Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel and select the Black and White Adjustment Layer. This converts the image to Black and White and gives the user control over how each color translates to black or white. For the supplied image I am adjusting the Blues slider to 132 so that the sweater isn’t completely solid black. Adjusting the Red and Yellow slider will adjust for skin tone. For my example, I  changed Yellows to 7.

2. Next, make a brightness and contrast adjustment layer. I’m not making adjustments to this yet as I’m not sure what the resulting image will look like, its just here as an insurance policy.

3. Make a Gradient Map adjustment layer. The gradient map uses a gradient and remaps Darks and Lights to the corresponding color in the gradient. Darks are on the left hand side of the luminosity scale so therefore anything dark will be remapped to whatever is on the left hand side of the gradient map.

4. Click on the gradient thumbnail to make adjustments to the gradient. We’ll start off making a two-color gradient that goes from a color to white. For the color, double-click on the left-hand color stop and use the following hexidecimal code #FF6F61 (this is the 2019 Pantone color of the year – Living Coral) Click OK to exit the color picker. If the right-hand color stop is not white, double-click it to select White. This has now made a gradient map that remaps black to Living Coral and white to white.

5. This is certainly usable but because the color component is bright it makes the image slightly difficult to look at, we’ll add another color stop to give the image some shadow-tone. Hold down ALT/OPT and click on the left color stop and drag a copy to the center. Then, double click on the left-hand color stop and chnage the color to Black.

6. This version gives the image a lot more depth and still works within the mono-chromatic color palette. To make the shadows and highlights a little less harsh we will add our base color to the dark and light color sliders. Select the black color stop (click only once to select it) and move the cursor over the gradient ramp and select a transitional color between black and the middle color stop – this will assign the selected color to the color stop. Do the same for the right-hand side – select the white color stop and use the eyedropper to select a transitional color between the middle and the white point. Click OK. If you want to redo your selection, change the left stop back to black and the right to white and make a new selection.

7. Make any final adjustments using the Brightness and Contrast Adjustment Layer

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