Photoshop: Combine Curves tool and Gradient Tool in one – for perfect blending.

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  • Updated 6 years ago
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Here is my idea/problem.
I use Adobe PhotoShop CS5.
Combine two separate features in one – The Curves tool and the Gradient Tool in one tool – to be able to change the colour of a mask but on a gradient instead of uniformly.

My first (general) goal is to be able to blend any two images together in a believable way.
For example, I have two images – A and B, and where they meet, there is a sudden change in colour.
Where A meets B, I want to change the colour of B, so that it roughly matches the colour of A, but I want the other end of B to have its colour unchanged.
I also do not want to lose any detailed texture below the colour change.

My second (specific) goal is to be able to make realistic shading – for example on the edge of a person’s face.
I want the shadow to get gradually darker at the extreme edge of the face, and gradually lighter as it gets to the middle of the face, but to lose no detail beneath the shading.

Feature 1 – Curves.
I can use the Curves tool (or CTRL-M) to change the colour of a portion (mask) within an image, and it works well.
The trouble is, it changes the entire mask uniformly – It will not make one side of the mask be darker, the other lighter, in a “gradient” fashion.

Feature 2 – Gradient tool.
I can use the Gradient tool with a Linear Gradient and either the “Linear burn” blend mode or the “Multiply” blend mode.
I can apply this to a mask which leaves the image unchanged at one end, and changes it to a specific colour at the other end, and applies the change gradually increasing in-between.
There are two problems with the Gradient tool. –
First, it is difficult to choose the right colour at where the two images are being blended.
Second, the Gradient tool tends to be opaque – It loses detail under the shading, so for example some of detail in the face is lost.

What I really need is a new tool which combines both Curves and Gradient, so that I can blend two images where they meet, and so I can create very realistic shading – for example on a person’s face.

In theory I could apply one tool, and then the other, but in practice this is difficult if not impossible.
Any suggestions? Can anyone think of a way to accomplish this - with CS5 or indeed other tools?
Photo of Sean Wilkins

Sean Wilkins

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Posted 6 years ago

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Photo of Scott Mahn

Scott Mahn

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Without seeing an image I'm not sure I grasp the problem. Is there a reason that a curves layer with a gradient layer mask doesn't suit? Layers, blend modes and layer masks gives all kinds of control.

Perhaps post an image illustrating your task for specific recommendations.