Preview of Final Results

Silhouettes and Gradients Photoshop Tutorial


Silhouettes and Gradients Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1

Open up an image that has a clearly-defined outline that differentiates elements within the photo. Download one of these two support files to follow along with these examples, which are in the public domain.

step1

Support Files
CSA-2006-10-10-112726 CSA-2006-10-31-094952

Step 2

Go to Image>Adjustments>Threshold.

step2


Step 3

Drag the arrow so that the subjects in the photo and other areas we want to be visible are black. For the helicopter photo, place the arrow between the two areas of pixels. For this example, I set it to 90. Press OK.

step3


Step 4

We need to make the Background layer a normal layer in order to remove the white pixels. Double-click the Background layer and click OK to name it its default name, Layer 0.

step4


Step 5

There are many ways to select the white pixels, but let’s just use the simple Magic Wand tool.

step5


Step 6

Set the Tolerance to 0 and make sure Contiguous is unchecked. This will ensure that the white pixels that are not adjacent to, or contiguous to, the white area of pixels that we click will still be selected.

step6


Step 7

Click somewhere in the white pixels and press Backspace to delete them

step7


Step 8

Next, click on the New Layer icon on the bottom of the Layers palette to create a new layer. Click-and-drag this layer so it’s below Layer 0.

step8


Step 9

With the Marquee Selection tool, click somewhere on the image to de-select the pixels, if they are still selected. Select the Gradient tool.

step9


Step 10

With Layer 1 selected in the Layers palette, and the Gradient tool selected, double-click on the Foreground Color selector near the bottom of the toolbar. Set it to White. Double-click the Background Color selector and set it to an orange hue. I set mine to #ffa800. This sets the color of each side of the gradient.

step10


Step 11

Click-and-drag from the top of the image to about a fourth from the bottom. Press Shift to maintain a straight vertical line.

step11


Step 12

It should look something like this.

step12


Step 13

For another example, repeat steps 1-11 but with the photo of the soldiers. But before going to step 11, set the gradient type to Radial.

step13


Step 14

Switch the orange and white by clicking double-sided arrow near the bottom of the toolbar. Click-and-drag from behind the second soldier to simulate an area of sunshine. Crop out the extra black pixels we don’t need.

step14

Now we can use this technique to create illustration-like outlines and silhouettes for print and online designs.