eth3real_an9el (eth3real_an9el) wrote in _just_add_color,

Tutorial for gradient color bar.

Ok so a lot of people have asked me, how on earth do you make a color bar? Here is my attempt at explaining it! This is the first tut I have done, so feedback would be great! Enjoy.

This tutorial is a complete step by step guide to create a basic ROYGBIV gradient colorbar. It will take some time but if you are serious about making colorbars I think it will help you a lot. Enjoy!

Note:This tutorial is written for Photoshop users, with examples from Photoshop 7. Where ever a red box is shown on an image it is a point of emphasis. The tutorial assumes everyone has a basic knowledge of Photoshop tools, but it is very explanatory.

We will be making this bar:

Step 1: Choose your images and resize

  • Start with high quality pictures.

  • I will be using these images:

  • (1)

  • When starting out, I think it's easiest to stick to 6 images, each of size 100x100.

  • If your image is very large, crop away the outside that you are sure you wont need.

  • Then, resize the image. To do this in Photoshop select the “Image” tab and on the drop down menu select “Image Size”.

  • Making sure the resize options are set as “percent” decrease the percentages evenly. This will take some “guess, check and improve” work.

  • See bellow, click for full view (CFFV)

  • The image may need to be reduced by 20% or only 90%, depending on its size. The image bellow went from 100% to 30%.

  • From this: Image hosted by To this: Image hosted by

Step 2: Close cropping

  • The image above is not 100x100 pixels in size and should be close cropped rather than further resized.

  • When cropping you should try to stick to the “Rule of Thirds” theory.

  • That is, images should not be centred. Instead a point of focus should occur where the lines on this grid meet:

  • Image hosted by

  • Also, close ups are better when working with images of people.

  • I layered the grid over my image and aligned it so that the point of focus on my image was where a vertical and horizontal grid line met i.e. not centred.

  • Then I cropped around it and deleted the grid layer (you don’t have to do this, you can simply visualise the “thirds” in your mind).

  • So your image will go from:

  • This: Image hosted by To this: Image hosted by And finally this: Image hosted by

  • You must do this with all 6 images.

This may seem like a lot of work for nothing but your image quality will be higher. Look at the example bellow, both images are 100x100 in size and cropped from the same original picture. I think most will agree that image 2, following the rule of thirds method, is a better quality image:

Image 1: Image hosted by Image 2: Image hosted by

Step 3: Image quality adjustments

    Now if you started out with perfect quality images and there is little adjustments needed these steps are not important. In other cases where you start with a screen cap you should try this out.

  • Adjust the brightness and contrast until the image has depth and is bright enough to see, without being washed out.

  • See bellow, CFFV.

  • Then we can sharpen images if they are fuzzy. Sometimes you can sharpen the whole image, other times you should only sharpen certain sections or the image becomes pixelated.

  • Sections that are best to sharpen are eyes, lips, hair and areas that seem faded out.

  • To just sharpen certain sections, use the magic wand tool, and click on the part you want to be sharpened.

  • If not enough area is selected hold shift and click again and you may have to increase your “tolerance”. If too much area was selected, right click and press “subtract from selection” and you may have to decrease your “tolerance”.

  • If a large part of the image needs to be selected you can use the “Rectangular Marquee” tool.
  • The sharpen option is fuond under the “Filter” tab.

  • See bellow, CFFV.

  • Lastly we can despeckle. This is the opposite to sharpening.

  • If the image is too pixelated you despeckle to make it smoother.

  • This should really only be done on certain areas, mainly skin on images of people or backgrounds.

  • Use the same selecting method as you would with sharpening.

  • Go to the “Filter” tab again and on the drop down menu find “Noise” then “despeckle” is on the next drop down menu.

  • See bellow, CFFV.

  • At this point all my images have been transformed into these:

Step 4: Desaturation/grey scaling

  • This is an imperative step in making a colorized bar.

  • If you want to completely remove all natural color to create vivid colorization, you greyscale.

  • In Photoshop select the Image tab, then Mode and select greyscale.

  • A warning will appear asking you to “Discard color information” or something to that extent. Click ok/yes.

  • See below, CFFV.

  • If you want to create a bar with more depth and well blended color, I suggest desaturation, as you can vary how much natural color you want to remove.

  • Again go into to Image tab and on the drop down menu select Adjustments, then Hue/Saturation.

  • See Below, CFFV.

  • Then, using the slider, reduce the amount of color to approximately -80.

  • The amount to which you remove color can vary but something between 70 and 85 would be best.

  • See below, CFFV.

  • Again we need to adjust the brightness and contrast as desaturation removes depth as well as color.

  • Use the same method as before, but don’t increase to a point where color becomes vivid or too white.

  • See below for an example, CFFV.

Step 5: Putting together your bar

    We're getting to the fun bit now.

  • Open a new page from the File tab and in the options box adjust the attributes to 650x150 approximately.

  • Make sure you have all 6 of your images, as well as this new document open.

  • See below, CFFV.

  • Go to one of your pictures and, making sure you are using the Move Tool, select, drag and drop your image into the new page. Do this with all 6 images.

  • Arrange the images into a bar with even (or no) spacing.

  • When you are happy with your arrangement go to the Layer tab and on the drop down menu select Flatten Image/Merge Visible.

  • See Below, CFFV.

Step 6: Adding color

  • Once you have flattened your image make sure you have your “layers” palette out (select Window and highlight layers if you don’t).

  • Now, on your layers palette, right click on your background image and select “Duplicate layer”.

  • See Below, CFFV.

  • On the new layer (background copy), right click and select blending options.

  • A new menu will pop up. Look down the left hand side of the menu and you will come across “Gradient Overlay”, click on it and select it.

  • In the main menu box, you will see a small bar of color that says “Gradient” and on the other end is an arrow.

  • Click the arrow and select one of the rainbow gradients.

  • See Below, CFFV.

  • At the top of the main box in the window, you will see an option labelled “Blend Mode”, change this to soft light.

  • If you prefer harsher color (though I don’t recommend it), switch the Blend Mode to overlay.

  • See Below, CFFV.

  • In the left hand side of the window, at the very top, highlight “Blending Options”.

  • If your color is too harsh or the picture is washed out, lower the opacity down to about 80% (or whatever looks best).

  • Some times you may need to duplicate this colored layer and mess around with the opacity on this new layer as well (to get a really clear, HQ image).

  • See Below, CFFV.

Step 7: Final touches and downloading fonts

  • When you are happy with your gradient, you may want to mess around with brightness, contrast and sharpening again.

  • Do NOT over sharpen your images (if they look grainy after sharpening, go Edit, Undo), it’s a dead give away that you don’t know what you are doing.

  • Also, if your image lacks depth, your color is probably too harsh, go back and alter your opacity in Belding Options.

  • When your happy, flatten the image once more.

  • Go to and download some funky fonts if you haven’t got any yet.

  • To do this, click the download button and save the file in the Windows “Fonts” file8. When it has downloaded, go to the Fonts file and unzip your download. There will be an icon/file in the “.ttf” format and that's your font. If that's there, it will automatically load into your Photoshop with all of Windows other fonts.

  • Add your “is love” catchphrase using the text tool and your selected font.

  • Voila, a wonderful, colorbar!

    Or maybe


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