I've never had this problem before. I'm using the standard soft round brush to blend colors, which has always given a smooth effect, but now it suddenly looks all pixelated. The brush strokes also appears in rings instead of a smooth gradient. It looks as if the picture has been sharpened too much or saved in bad quality. I've already tried things like changing the brush settings, deleting photoshop preferences, increasing the RAM assigned to photoshop, but nothing works. Does anyone know what caused this? It's driving me insane! I get the same problem in an older version (Photoshop CS), so perhaps it's not photoshop itself?
Sounds like a problem with your display settings on your system, or possibly a problem with your monitor.
Does it show in a screen grab?
If so, please post a screen grab here so others can see exactly what you're seeing.
Please also describe your system (hardware, OS, etc.).
Thank you for the reply!
Here's a screenshot of the pixelated brush:
And these are my system specifics:
Windows 7, service pack 1
Intel(R) Core (TM) i7-3610QM CPU @ 2.30 GHz
RAM 8,00 GB
Intel(R) HD Graphics 4000
NVIDIA GeForce 610M
Here's how it looks when i tried to paint with it:
It looks all blocky and pixelated instead of smooth.
Everything looks smooth from here in your screen grabs (within my ability to tell - you've downsized the images). This may imply you're having a monitor, cable, or (possibly) video card failure.
Just to verify in the other direction, does this image look smooth to you or blocky and pixelated? Check it in both your browser and Photoshop.
They were looking at the original file, although i havent downsized the screenshots.
I took a photo of it with my phone (the quality is obviously bad, but the pixely patches that you can see in it is exactly what i see on my laptop):
The image you posted up above is MUCH darker than your photo. And I can assure you the images above are downsized, possibly by photobucket, which may mask what it is you're trying to show. Why not just attach them ot the posts here using the little camera icon?
At this point I'm not even sure I'm perceiving what it is you're trying to point out, possibly because of terminology problems... Posterization describes a "paint by numbers" appearance where instead of smooth gradients you see "blocks" or "regions" with all the same color - making kind of a "digital" appearance out of it. Is that more along the lines of what you're trying to say?
My best guess so far, and I have little confidence in it, is that maybe you have a miscalibrated monitor (set way too bright) and perhaps that is interacting with the fact that you're painting on an 8 bits/channel document.
Have you tried using 16 bits/channel mode?
And that is indeed what i mean, when i use the brush it doesn't color smoothly but in blocks that look pixelated. It used to work fine until recently, and i haven't changed any settings.
Do you see the problem if you paint on a 16 bits/channel document?
Given that you seem prone to making wide brightness changes (presumably with Curves or something), you'll want the extra accuracy and smoothness the deeper data format will provide.
Perhaps you just weren't seeing the effect because of the nature of your prior work. Working in limited bit depth isn't something that's just gone wrong, unless perhaps you were creating new documents in 16 bits/channel before without thinking about it and somehow your File - New dialog got switched to 8 bits/channel.
I made the drastic brightness change to make the problem more visible to you, but the change from 16 bits to 8 bits per channel sounds like it might just be the problem. I'll go and check it right now.
I'm afraid that hasn't fixed the problem..Perhaps i should show you an example of what i want to get back to:
This is the previous picture i did but i can no longer get the colors to overlap smoothly like this because the shading is now blocky (or in rings, as you said earlier). If you compare it to the screenshot, you should be able to see a difference (if it isn't my monitor settings after all). Do you know of any other settings that could have affected it?
Just changing an existing 8 bits/channel image to 16 bits is not going to correct the posterization that has already occurred due to the quantization of color values into one of 256 luminance levels.
You may have to use some smoothing tools such as the Blur Tool or maybe the Smudge Tool, or even just the Brush Tool again and brush over those spots to clean them up.
I'm afraid there may not be an easy fix for the places where it's happened already.
I can explain it, but it gets a bit technical.
In 8 bits/channel mode, every red, green, and blue component of a pixel's color is quantized to fit in 8 bits - meaning there are only 256 different levels of red, green, and blue.
In short, in an 8 bits/channel document, there are only so many shades you can have. Generally speaking, with a good monitor the difference between these shades is just about visible.
Worse yet, if you do anything to an image where you manipulate it - e.g., brightening it with Curves or something - adjacent shades that differed by one level can end up differing by more than one level and become even more visible.
In order to "cover up" the blockiness/posterization that you've already accumulated, you'll need to blend those areas after having switched to 16 bit mode, possibly as I said using the Smudge Tool to "smear" adjacent pixels together. Try it. It may take a while to get the hang of it, but it does work. The other alternative is to just repaint those areas from scratch. Like I said, it may not be easy to fix, but I don't think all is lost.
Another technique people sometimes use to hide posterization is to add noise selectively, which tends to break up the digital appearance of the noise.
As an example I smudged, added noise, and a tiny bit of motion blur to selections within one of the feathers in the image you posted...
I see what you mean, though using those methods doesn't give the same quality I'm looking for. Even when smudging it, it just moves the blocks instead of blending the colors together..Perhaps I should just start from scratch in 16/bits per channel and see if the problem stays. Thank you for the help.
At this point I'm not even sure I understand what it is you're seeing that you don't like, or whether your monitor is showing you what others' monitors show to them.
The initial image you posted, with soft brush strokes, looked pretty soft to me. Then the first feather image was almost black.
Perhaps it would be good if you'd start over.
Please create a new document and paint just a bit on it, in brightness levels that are easy to see, annotate the image with arrows showing *just* what you mean, and post the image here. Perhaps someone will recognize what I'm apparently missing.
My screen is probably too bright if other people see the picture as almost black (which is weird because i've already reduced the brightness a few times before :/ )
As for not seeing the problem, it is a subtle grainy feeling to the brush. I didn't notice it either at first until it accumulated and created the blocks when painting over it more and more..Maybe some people won't notice it, but i feel/see the difference from how it used to be and I fear that when i start painting to print it will be obvious in the prints.
Your monitor is likely WAY out of calibration for gamma, as the images you continue to post seem very dark.
+1 to post 27 - as Conroy has said, with these latest images you're showing what happens with Spacing values that are higher than you might want.
You almost certainly have a monitor gamma problem then, since that image is actually too dark, and the one on the right has normal brightness levels.
This explains why you're seeing the differences between adjacent levels of brightness on an 8 bits/color display. I suspect you've been choosing dark colors to compensate, which is why the images you post look too dark.
Is it possible someone used your computer to play a dark game and they left it set (e.g., in the video driver) with a hugely out-of-calibration gamma setting? You mentioned turning things down once already.
There's not an easy answer...
What graphics adapter does it have in it?
Does your display driver have the ability to change the brightness/gamma/etc.? If so, are there non-default settings there?
Windows does provide a display calibration process that might help... Try clicking Start and typing calib in the search box, then choose Calibrate Display Color when it comes up.
I've done the calibration, the brightness should be fine now (i now see the pictures as dark too), but the problem of the brushes and gradients not being smooth is still there (both in 8 bits and 16 bits). I checked the pictures on my mother's laptop and my brother's desktop, we see the problem on their computers too so I'm not sure why you don't see it...My graphics adapter is NVIDIA Geforce 610M 2GB.
In the WIP, I marked the rings i see and the stripes in the gradient (which i get in both 8 bit and 16 bit). The picture is still dark but it is meant to be dark, the stripes and rings are more visible when using lighter colors though. The skin on the character looks fine, its only when i started painting the wings that the problem started. All my previous pictures look fine too, but when i open a new document and start painting the problem is there too.
I see it to
Its something to do with the colour profiles.
Ive reformatted and still see it, im going to try a clean sweep of windows and see if my brother can figure it out,
he has fixed it before, ill get back to you