||What is a Color Gradient?
It's a change in color, and in opacity (or it's
opposite, transparency). It is used by a number of tools.
In PD Particles, the color gradient is used by the particle brushes.
The colors showing from left to right are the colors that the particles
will go through.
In this example, using PD Artist,
a slightly more sophisticated color gradient is used with the Fill
tool, in this case with a vertical layout. This can be used to create
hazy skies with sunset colors.
||Another tool that can use
the color gradient is the linear gradient tool. In this case we used
zero opacity on both ends of the gradient, so that either end remains
||And here's yet another
tool that can use the color gradient: the circular gradient tool. The
left-most color from the gradient is used in the middle of the circle,
and then it progresses to the right-most color as it draws towards the
end of the circle.
The opacity channel has several high and low points, alternating from
opaque to transparent, to let you see through the corresponding rings.
These are examples of color gradients at work in other programs. Now
let's take a look at how to use the color gradient with PD Particles,
and how to set and define it in the first place.
||We'll use particle
brushes, and the color gradientwill be used to control the changes in
colors during the particle's lifespan. The left-most color in the
gradient will be the starting color of the particle trace. Here we see
an example using the Style 'Shrinking line'. By the end of the particle
(near the bottom, thin tip), they have reached the right-most color of
||You can open the color
gradient panel from the Window menu.
There is also a keyboard shortcut, 'p' for p)laytime..... or was it
||And you can also find the
current gradient's color strip in the Particles panel. If you click
that gradient color strip, it too will open the gradient panel.
||The default particle brush
might be a bit thin and it might be difficult to recognize the essence
of the color gradient, so we'll use a different setting. We'll use in
fact an internal brush, such as a large airbrush, and then we'll select
that for use along the particle traces.
Select the Large airbrsh.
||Next, change the Style in
the Particles panel from Line to 'Brush' style. In this mode, it will
use the currently selected brush instead of the default fine lines.
This will make it easier to see how the color gradient applies along
the particle traces.
||Make sure that the
particles are enabled. It would have been disabled when selecting
that airbrush a few steps earlier.
||Also, let's disable the
'Shading' option. Otherwise, the color will be darkened for particles
which grow downwards.
||Now let's draw a few dabs
of particle traces. You can see very well now how the particles change
their color from red through yellow-green to light blue-cyan, just like
the selected color gradient.
Let's take a look at the options in the color gradient.
||There is a button to
reserve the gradient. It flips it 'horizontally, left-to-right.
Now the particles start with cyan and end with red.
||There are multiple
Note that selecting it in the gradient panel doesn't make that the
current gradient for the particles though. You have to select the
desired gradient index from the Particle panel's slider.
||Here we have selected a
different gradient index in the Particle's panel. The slider is right
below the color gradient strip.
||The gradient index is one
of 8 indices available from the c`urrent gradient collection.
There are additional gradient collections available.
Click the 'Gradient' button, and you will see other sets.
||Click the desired gradient
||Here's a new gradient,
Note that the opacity is changing up and down several times.
It is possible to directly change the progression of the opacity as
well as the progression of the color channels.
Simply place the pointer into the gradient color area. Start
dragging left to right, and up and down.
Select the Red tab if you want to change the red channel's progression.
Likewise, select the other channels as needed.
The resulting color will be shown.
||When you change the
progression a bit too abruptly, you may want to smooth it.
There are two buttons that smooth the gradient. One is a one-time
smoothing. The other is a toggle that turns smoothing on and keeps
smoothing until you click it again to turn it off.
Another way to change or set the colors is by drag-and-drop from the
Simply click a color square and drag it over to the gradient. Drop it
on the scale near the bottom of the color gradient.
||In this way you can create
new gradients that are set by specific colors you want, sort of like a
keyframe or key color. You can create such colors with the colorpicker
or by numerically setting the R, G and B values, and dragging the color
from the primary or secondary color rectangles into the color well.
Then you can drop it to the gradient's scale.
You can also drag-and-drop directly from the primary and secondary
color rectangles to the gradient scale.
When you want to get rid of a key color along the gradient scale, just
click and drag it out of the gradient to the left or right to dismiss
|Here's another trick.
Using just a change of opacity, you can make grass that thins towards
the end. Or, to the contrary, make it suddenly turn opaque again. If
the color also turns from dark to bright around where the opacity
spikes, then that can convey an illusion of flowery tips at the end of
the grass helms.
In this example, the gradient starts with dark brown for the wooden
stem, with full opacity. It then turns green and quickly drops to
semi-transparent to make it look like thin pine needles. In the end it
brightens to a yellow with full opacity again, to make it look a bit
like fern blooms. Notice also how the length of the needles varies a
lot with the speed of the brush stroke.
That's about it. The color gradient is not a very complex tool in PD
Particles, but it is nonetheless very powerful and can lead to great
many new results with new types of particles, especially when used with
other attributes such as shrinking lines, splits, opacity changes,
tinting and fog etc...