Coloring your black and whites with gradient maps—TUTORIAL

Say that, you’re sadistic and have some black and white shit and you want to color it in a very painful way.

First thing I do is toss down a gradient, this initial gradient is kind of the foundation of the colors for your drawings. Later on it will be used to help you with the color coherency with your figure. Choosing the right colors in the gradient fill would heavily affect the outcome of your drawing since it will be the point of reference that you will use to pick other colors.

Lasso out the section you will be coloring and toss it on a different layer in front of the gradient, in this case I’m just going to do the skin tone for example.

Next click Image> Adjustments > Gradient Map

Alright, so a menu pops up and you click the gradient, and you get another dialog box. Now you have a gradient bar that you can choose and set colors at different values. For my choices I went with Shadows > Unsaturated color > Base Color > Saturation > Whites. You don’t have to do it this way really, you do whatever you want with them colors. To add a color just click below the gradient, you can also choose to control how transparent a value range is as well by clicking above the gradient bar. After you are all happy with the colors you selected, type in the Name and click New to save it to presets (Yeah, that button needs to be renamed).

So this is where you take advantage of the gradient background. Maybe the colors that you choose doesn’t doesn’t work out too well with the background, hair, or whatever she’s wearing, you can adjust the transparency of the layer to blend in, and choose different blending options for the layer.
Gradient mapping is only used for the initial colors, toss in some new multiply or overlay layers and work in some adjustments with soft brushes.

Now rinse and repeat for clothes, hair, etc.
The process becomes a lot easier once you build up a library of gradients.

Thank you for reading this boring tutorial hope it helps and good luck!


  1. thanks for the tutorial, gotta try this someday

  2. Thank you for the tutorial! It’s great to see more tutorials popping up.

    • yw, yeahhh looks like it’s something that viewers have been requesting. Thought I’d try to help out. =]

  3. Thanks! This was really helpful!

    • Glad I could help =]

  4. impressive

  5. Looks great!

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