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27 Messages

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1.1K Points

Fri, May 10, 2013 12:05 AM

Photoshop: Gradient editor needs a few improvements

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.

27

Responses

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

7 years ago

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

9 Messages

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386 Points

7 years ago

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.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

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

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

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.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

As written, it does not make sense - you left out significant context needed for it to make sense.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

well do you understand it now?

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

Yes, between several of your posts you've provided some of the context to understand what you meant but didn't quite say.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

7 years ago

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):

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

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

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

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

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

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

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

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.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

"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!

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

7 years ago

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

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

7 years ago

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

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

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

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

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!

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

So far there isn't a useful suggestion here. I'm trying to understand the source of the problem, and so far it just seems that you prefer the UI that you wrote, and don't understand the existing UI in Photoshop.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

Ok, here are three concrete UI suggestions that would help:

1 - allow the user to specify a non-RGB color space when designing gradients within an RGB document (for example, a gradient that traces a spline in LAB or HSL)

2 - allow the user to specify a custom gamma for the gradient when designing the gradient, without having to change the colour scheme for their whole document (which leads to huge problems as we see below where you post an image that looks completely wrong without realizing)

3 - best: allow the user to use bezier splines instead of cardinal splines for their control points. I'm honestly not sure what the best UI solution is for this, but it can't be that hard to solve.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

1) The user can already specify the control points in a non-RGB space. I think you mean to allow a specification of which colorspace the control points will be interpolated in, before being converted to the document colorspace.

2) Again, I think you mean a gamma value for the interpolation before converting to the document colorspace. (and a gamma value for LAB makes no sense)

The example image difference was due to browser color management (wide gamut display matched, sRGB didn't) - not gamma. I should have opened the file instead of sampling values from the screen.

3) I've never seen a good UI for color gradients using bezier controls -- there are too many degrees of freedom involved (it becomes a 3D curve). One might exist, but I haven't seen it yet (and I keep track of all the curves and gradient UIs out there)

This is much closer to what you should have suggested in the first place.

111 Messages

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1.3K Points

7 years ago

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

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

7 years ago

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:

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

7 years ago

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.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

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?

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

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.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

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.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

> 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?

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

It is an arbitrary curve, because you are setting the control points (there are no tangents to set). We're talking about a cardinal spline, not a bezier.

And I'm still trying to figure out what you're talking about.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

7 years ago

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.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

7 years ago

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.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

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

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

I didn't embed a profile, so it may look different depending on your display and browser.

1 Message

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60 Points

Chris, you could at least try to make the endpoints match.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

So upload one with an embedded profile! The one you've posted here is nothing but an admission of defeat.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

Again, you may be seeing something different depending on your display and browser. When I created it, they were a close match.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

7 years ago

OK, instead of matching screen appearance, here's one matching your values, which took about 12 seconds to tweak the midpoints between stops.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

Ugh, that does not look remotely the same, and you have an ugly hard band between red and purple and between purple and blue.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

7 years ago

Here's my original gradient and your 'identical' version side-by-side. If you think these look the same, this is a lost cause.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

Not the same, but close, because I didn't spend a lot of time trying to match it exactly.

27 Messages

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1.1K Points

You will never get it sufficiently close for design work, and you will never manage to get rid of those ugly banding problems, because it's a mathematical limitation of cardinal splines.

45 Messages

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2.3K Points

Bennett dude. You are on the money here. I have noticed this limitation too with gradients(not to mention it takes 3 UI windows to edit a gradient.) This forum is super frustrating and is pretty much filled with defensive engineers trying to tell us that things work, when they clearly do not have the experience using the tools in practice. They also are not visual. They really aren't interested in listening and understanding what we are asking for.

15.1K Messages

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195.8K Points

Many of our engineers (Dev and QE) are photographers, painters, and/or designers. In practice, we have far more experience, and are very visually oriented.

We are listening or we wouldn't be having the conversation and trying to understand what you are asking for (when the original requests are lacking).

2 Messages

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64 Points

Chris, your tone is still defensive and (worse!) condescending. You've got a dozen people on this thread who all clearly understand the problem that you continue to argue doesn't exist. You do realize you're operating in a customer service capacity, right? You're not helping.

2 Messages

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248 Points

7 years ago

I completely agree with Bennett on this, and have had the same issues creating gradients to my liking without adding a 3rd and 4th color stop in both Photoshop and Illustrator. It'd be nice if some more design/art oriented people weighed in on this, as having the defensive developer responsible for acting being the sole person responding is clearly not going anywhere.

2 Messages

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22 Points

Yep. Bennett is in the right, the devs are in the wrong. In no way are the default Photoshop gradient tool results good enough (not after seeing how much better the alternatives can be, at least), and in no way is all that fiddling and tweaking intuitive or acceptable, not for a +thousand-dollar piece of software (be it on the older CS suite, or the new CC subscription). And I've been working in the field (with Adobe CS, no less) for more than 10 years, so that's just my not-so-humble opinion.

2 Messages

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64 Points

7 years ago

Wow, this embarrassing on Adobe's part. From the original suggestion I knew exactly what was being asked for, exactly why the current gradients in photoshop don't work, and exactly what the fix would be.

Chris: you're being a horrible, defensive ass about all this. Please, please take a breather and ask for someone else to review this matter.

129 Messages

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3.2K Points

7 years ago

Here's a 3D plot of the two red-to-cyan gradients.
Chris Cox's in white, Bennett Foddy's in Black. The duller shades are 2d projections.

(I realize perceptual color space isn't a cube, and there are probably profile issues, but this at least lets you see the smoothness of the gradients. There is some banding, of course)

2 Messages

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248 Points

Plotted this way, you can clearly see the "ugly hard bands" Bennett describes as corners in the plotted gradient path. The only way to get closer to Bennett's result in Photoshop would be to add more color stops, effectively just closer approximating but never quite hitting the smooth curve achieved by Bennett's gradient.

EDIT: Why closed for further discussion? David's posts are showing the existing gradient tools shortcomings in crystal clarity. Throughout this thread you've kept claiming either user ignorance or user miscommunication. Now that time has been taken here to show you EXACTLY what we're talking about, you're going to close the thread? You could at least acknowledge David's graphs with a "Oh, now I get it".