Photo-manipulation using Gradients

On Instagram, the mobile photo fun app, we have seen several gorgeous filters that bring life to our pictures. From a standard quality iPhone photo, we were able to manipulate a picture of our neighbors Volkswagen Beetle to one that looks like it was from the 80’s. Photo manipulation helps us achieve wonders that helps us show age and contrast without the need for makeup and lighting. But if you’re one of those users who doesn’t have a compatible iPhone, don’t worry. You can manipulate your photos using Adobe Fireworks in some very simple and basic steps. In fact, this tutorial would be rated for beginners but you will achieve the effects that you see in published magazines.

Play tools: Gradients and blend mode.

I took the liberty of finding a very nice photo by Tanweer Morshed of the Cresent Lake that is located in Bangladesh. A beautiful bridge that hangs over a calm bed of river that lights up to bring out the pure beauty at night time.

Here’s the truth, we’re actually not going to be making any changes to the photo itself. Rather, we’re going to overlay the photo with a rectangle we make using the rectangle tool. So let’s create that rectangle that covers the entire image. It’s better if it’s the same exact size as the photo for the later steps. Let’s set the rectangle color as #000000 (black).

From the properties panel, let’s go to blend mode drop down menu and select Overlay. The other options will bring different effects to our overall canvas. It is strongly recommend you play with this later on just to explore the vast number of possibilities.

With our rectangle still selected, we will click on our fill options drop down and go to Gradient then click on Linear. For now lets leave the gradient handles at default.

Click on the color option, then click on the little drop down menu to see a selection of fill presets. Let’s select the Copper preset. This effect will give us a little rustic look to our photo. You actually don’t have to do any more work to this photo. If you’re thinking wait I don’t see any difference from the original, you’re wrong! Here’s a small comparison of the original to the manipulated photo.

There are many many many more combinations that you can work with. Go ahead and explore the vast number of possibilities and start showing off to your friends. Perhaps they will pay you for you photo manipulation service! Okay this is really not photo manipulation, it’s more like photo editing. But does that really matter? You literally took a photo taken not too long ago and made it look like it’s from 1984. Here’s a small number of combinations for you to look at. Can you tell which one is the original?

Yup you’re right, none of them.


Hey there. I’m Sazzad, a User Experience Developer from New York City. I work with many talented folks who find ways of re-inventing the way users look at the web. I am the founder of the FWPolice and co-founder of Fleech Media. You can follow me on Twitter by the handle @IamShipon1988 .

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