2 Replies Latest reply on May 17, 2010 12:47 AM by Marijan Tompa

    Better Gradient Stepping

    tyoelin Level 1

      I did a search before I posted this one, thinking that a lot of other people would have a similar concern.  The only other post I found was from 2009

      that suggested more control over gradients.


      I've noticed that when making gradients of any kind--whether through the gradient tool, a soft brush, applying a blur filter, etc.--there is always significant stepping/banding/posterizing.  I know photoshop is raster based not vector, but I would like to know if a smoother gradient is attainable.  I've tried every trick in the book including adding noise and grain (which from what I can tell is the best solution) to make the smoothest gradient possible.


      From my experience, gradients that go in a linear line are pretty smooth, but gradients of a curved nature are always troublesome.  Is there anything that can be done either by programming or other tricks like adding noise, to make a smoother gradient?  I'm able to photograph a smooth gradient and open it in photoshop, I just can't make one successfully while the file is open.


      This has been my biggest (as well as my peers') question/concern for a very long time.


      And I promise this is my last suggestion for the day (I just discovered this forum and had these 4-5 burning hot points to post).



        • 1. Re: Better Gradient Stepping
          Level 7

          If you think smoothness is the problem - try blurring the gradient, and you'll get even more distinct banding.

          The gradients are already smooth.


          Gradients in Photoshop are always calculated at 16 bit/channel or better.

          The banding is normally because of quantization - the fact that your image or your display is limited to 8 bits/channel.

          Turning on dithering will help, but in 16 bit you can be limited not by the image but by your display.


          Your only option is dithering, or adding noise based on the quantization of your output (printing may need more noise, and 3D rendering may need very little).

          • 2. Re: Better Gradient Stepping
            Marijan Tompa



            Well, I can agree with Mr. Cox. I work in printing house, and often I'm dealing with gradients, and how they are printed. When I moved from CRT to TFT monitor, I noticed change in displaying gradients, but just displaying, print was not changed. Even with Eizo display, gradient is still worse than on CRT. That is because, like Mr. Cox said, 8 bits/channel display limitation (12 bits/channel for Eizo). My practice is to put noise in gradients, or using dittering when createing new gradients.