Photoshop: Gradient editor needs a few improvements

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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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Bennett Foddy

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Posted 6 years ago

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Bennett Foddy

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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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Chris Cox

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

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Ok look, honestly I don't care about you being rude and weirdly defensive, I just want the feature to be fixed. Now that you understand what I'm saying, can you get someone to investigate solutions?
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Chris Cox

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I haven't been rude or defensive. I've been trying to understand your requests, why you don't seem to understand the Photoshop gradient UI, and correct several of your misunderstandings about gradients in Photoshop.
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Bennett Foddy

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Ok then, now that you've done that, can you get someone to investigate solutions?
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Chris Cox

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That's why I've kept up the conversation instead of dropping it after your first few posts.
And the "someone" for the investigation and implementation... is me.
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Bennett Foddy

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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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Chris Cox

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

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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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Bennett Foddy

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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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Chris Cox

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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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David Gurney

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Probably because the gradient editor sucks.
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Axiom

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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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Bennett Foddy

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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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Bennett Foddy

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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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Chris Cox

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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.
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Bennett Foddy

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I'm trying to tell you that I could do a lot more with a bezier than a cardinal spline! It's not so hard to understand!
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Chris Cox

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So all you're claiming here is that you understand bezier splines and don't want to learn a different UI that can produce the same results?
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Bennett Foddy

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No dude, I'm trying to tell you that you CAN'T produce the same results with cardinal splines, which is a basic mathematical fact about bezier vs. cardinal splines. When I asked you produce the same result with the photoshop UI, you totally failed.
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Bennett Foddy

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

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Bennett Foddy

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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.
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dav3punk

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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.
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Chris Cox

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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).
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Troy Gilbert

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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.
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Chris Cox

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I have not been defensive - though the response above could be misread as condescending, I'm just relaying facts that someone seems to have missed.

I have been trying to explain misunderstandings, and get to the bottom of the customer request (which was far from clear in the original request). That has been achieved, and yet other people keep posting things that really are not helping the cause of this feature request.

Please read my posts more carefully.
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Ryan Malm

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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.
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João Francisco Rodrigues Gomes

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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.
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David Jensen

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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)
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Ryan Malm

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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".
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David Jensen

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Edit: "This topic is no longer open for comments or replies."
First time I've seen that here. There's definitely more room for discussion, such as how the interface can work. I'll respond to Ryan Malm's comment here:
A script could be made that makes a close enough approximation of a "gentle gradient" by using the built in gradient feature with a very large number of stops. I may try to make one.

Original message:
Here's another example with the orange to blue gradient, the Photoshop version has a midpoint with 100% smoothness. (sorry about the small-scale jaggedness)
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Bennett Foddy

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Here's the full notebook in case anyone wants to reproduce or tweak
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herbert wegen

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What did you use to visualize the math?
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Bennett Foddy

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Mathematica