View Full Version : Fun with Gradients - Putting rings around landmasses in antique maps

08-08-2009, 02:17 AM
**Photoshop, should work with any version, and hopefuly this can translate to Gimp

So, I've been thinking on this ever since I tried Ascension's tutorial, and read through the big discussion about how to get the rings around the land to look more hand and less straight-edgey-cornerish in the antique style maps. My solution was to use an out glow with a gradient, and hide the imperfections with a woodcut style layer over top. nice enough effect, i suppose, but the thing that's been bothering me for quite some time (from other projects I've been working on as well) was that i KNOW there is a way to get gradients to follow the shape of an object (or path, as it were). Typically, gradient fills go the entire shape, up/down, left/right, radial, diamond, etc - straight directions and that's it. But what if we want to have one follow the coastline?

So i got to experimenting and stumbled upon a rather nifty ring effect using the Stroke layer effect, of all things - the result is like so:

I set up a gradient with the following pattern:
I set up the far left with 5% opacity at position 0%.
Next is 0% opacity at position 5%
Then 10% opacity at position 10%
0% at 15, 20% at 20%
and so on - you should start to see the pattern now. I found it easiest to set up all my 0% opacities at each 5% mark first, then add in the opacity markers afterwards. i also used the keyboard for typing the numbers in instead of eyeballing it :) Note I started at 5% and end with transparency right next to the coastline - if you end at 100% opaque you will lose the coastline detail. ( I breifly experimented with setting extra markers to sharply define the lines, but it wasn't a noticeable enough difference to make it worth the hassle)

I used the following settings in the Stroke style editor itself: (note, shapeburst is our friend - and the key to this entire process.)

You can also get some neat effects by switching position to inner, or even Center.

I have this gradient set as black to black in the gradient editor, but you can of course modify the colours with the bottom set of sliders all you want, that can give some nice sepia or rainbow tones if you're not using another method of adjusting the colour..

I find that the rings look best between 30 and 75 - too much smaller and it just looks like a greyscale stroke, much larger and it starts looking artificial again.

You can also use the same technique with standard gradients to simply have the gradient follow the lines/shapes you are using, without the rings - this could make for some easy beaches around lakes :)

08-08-2009, 08:17 AM
Ahhh there's that shape burst again. I read a little about this after Waldronate said about it. Although what its doing is pretty easy to understand what it can do for you seems quite powerful once you think about it. Somebody asked how to I shade a bar so it looks 3D when the bar is curved and you can use shape burst to do it. Its very good at gradients along a curve so I can see immediately now how this works with a stripy gradient. Very cool and will rep if able.

Steel General
08-08-2009, 08:20 AM
Neat stuff, thx for posting.

I'd thrash you about the head and shoulders with my Cudgel of Repping, but the Reputation deity says I have to spread the love a bit more.

08-08-2009, 11:10 AM
Ah, that's cool, I didn't know about that Shape Burst thing.

I've tried to do similar effects with shadows & glows, but it's nowhere near as precise.

Cool, thanks!

PLUS ... in later versions of PS, you can turn a layer effect into its own layer ... then tweak it as an image. So you can, say coarse-dot pixellate that stroke.

08-08-2009, 11:36 AM
Very cool! Like toff I've used the outer shadow with a spiky opacity map but your way is much nicer.

08-08-2009, 12:35 PM
Cool....looks like I may just start playing with photoshop more.

08-08-2009, 01:13 PM
One thing to keep in mind with using the Stroke layer style is that it knocks out other layer styles that may be applied over the top of it on the same layer - ie if you add an outer glow you won't see the outer glow...you'll have to make a new layer for the outer glow. Putting the stroke on the inside creates even more problems if you try to turn down the opacity...it just kills everything and creates a transparent ring. That being said, I use it all the time and just put other styles on other layers :)

08-08-2009, 04:12 PM
very cool effect, thanks for sharing.

08-08-2009, 04:26 PM
Ascension: good point, I hadn't played with it enough to notice/remember that :) I like toffs solution though, setting it as it's own layer, that would certainly solve that issue.

The other reason I wouldn't have noticed that issue is that for effects likie woodcuts and outer glows for the land, i tend to keep each effect on a separate layer. I know i can keep them on the same and just turn them on and off that way, but old habis die hard.

08-08-2009, 07:15 PM
Another thing to note, though is that the shape burst gradient is a recent addition. Photoshop 7 (arguably the most common non-CS version) does not have it. I don't know about CS 1 or 2. I know 3 and 4 have it, though.

I'm still trying to get my hands on a copy of CS3, personally. Still no luck.


08-08-2009, 08:49 PM
Yeh, it's somewhat aggravating that each effect hides under the next one, in PS's effects hierarchy. Sometimes the blend modes affect them, but sometimes not. I haven't really figured it out.

08-08-2009, 09:41 PM
Ok I stand corrected in regards to compatability, I thought I had remembered using shapeburst (por soemthing like it) back in photoshop 5 or so..

I know I'd used it in SOMETHING back then. Though it wasn't called shapeburst, i think it was just called Shape. Must have been a different program then, ahwell.

08-09-2009, 12:57 AM
Well since all I have is CS I can tell you that CS has it. I thought that 7 had it as well...seems like I've been using it forever. Maybe I've just been using CS for too long to remember correctly, shrug.

08-09-2009, 07:08 AM
I tried to replicate this in GIMP by using the Layer Effects Plugin (http://registry.gimp.org/node/186) (Python version) but as the attached image shows, the results were not good. The plugin insists on repeating the gradient in reverse direction after drawing it once. What's worse, none of the "Shape" styles available (angular, spherical and dimpled) produce smooth rings.

I included the gradient file I created for this, in case anyone else wishes to experiment more.