Before You Start
Use this sample image if you’d like, or practice with your own.
Step 1: Start with Contrast
This technique works best on high-contrast photos, so Lukianova applied the effect to this black-and-white photo. She then chose the Magic Wand (W) and clicked to select the black dress.
Step 2: Colorize a Selection
Next, she added a Gradient adjustment layer.
Step 3: Choose Your Palette
Lukianova then reviewed the available gradient presets before choosing the one she liked. She ultimately chose one of the orange-to-purple presets from the Reds category on the Gradient Fill dialog and clicked OK.
Step 4: Make It Your Own
She wanted to customize the gradient, so she double-clicked the Gradient preview to open the Gradient Editor.
Step 5: See It Through
To add transparency to the top color, Lukianova clicked the Opacity stop and lowered the Opacity.
Step 6: Make a Smooth Transition
Lukianova was able to create a smooth gradient by moving the color stops and Color Midpoints to get the look she wanted. She clicked OK when she was happy with the results.
Step 7: Refine the Edges
The Gradient Fill adjustment created a layer mask above the model layer, filling the selected area of the photo with the color gradient. Lukianova wanted to refine the edges of the mask, so she clicked the mask thumb of the Gradient Fill in the Layers (Window > Layers) panel. Then she chose the Brush (B) tool, set it to a soft round edge and painted with black to reveal the top part of the dress. She refined the edge of the selection using a smaller brush and painted with a white brush on the mask to reveal parts of the gradient she accidentally hid.
Step 8: Color Grade the Composition
For a subtle color correction, Lukianova added a solid purple color adjustment layer over the image, clicked OK, and lowered the Opacity for the new adjustment layer.
Design Your Look
Apply colorful gradients for your high-contrast photos to create a portfolio that is sure to get noticed.