Highlight mood and artistic creativity with simple gradients overlays
By Martin KP in Articles and Tips on Jul 11, 2019
In this tutorial I will show you how to enhance black and white photographs using gradient overlays. I will demonstrate this technique to enhance a portrait using Affinity Photo, but of course the technique can be applied in other mainstream photo editing programs.
Digital post processing offers the photographer a selection of tools to help with creating a pictorial mood. Subtle tonal changes can elevate, heighten or lessen photographic elements to help the viewers eye toward an artistic expression whilst remaining hidden within the photographic structure. Indeed, a graduating tonal shift using a vignette tool when used properly is a good way to enhance your post processing creativity, yet, over use of this tool can lead to mundane predictability across the tonal space in a series of pictures and the tool itself negates your own artistic expression. There is another way to create the same mood effect of a vignette whilst remaining creative to a mood within the frame. This can be done by employing the gradient fill tool.
All good photo editing programs will have a gradient tool. Tones, colors or tints can be altered to serve the intended mood of a photograph. The easiest scale to use is a gray scale but this technique also works well for color scale. Sometimes a color photograph only needs a hint of gray scale but I find I employ gradients to black and white images. Sometimes the same gradient can be used across a picture series. Bare in mind, gradients suffer from the same transgressions as vignettes, their over use can muddy a picture instead of providing a subtle mood change and artistic expression. When carefully considered and combined with selective curves the creative elements fuse to an interesting result. The key here is to experiment and I will show you how to do just that.