This simple technique will reduce banding and streaking so your gradients look nice and smooth. Before you think about altering your colors, make you try this first.
There are few things in life that get me wound up more than banding problems. It doesn’t matter if you are working at 72 or 300 resolution, it will eventually come to haunt you and will be largely based on the color combination you are using in your gradient. Before considering altering your colors or the contrast between them, let’s try and correct it. I discovered this technique about 2 years ago after trying countless methods that never really gave me the results I was looking for.
The image below shows banding in action.
Once you have your gradient made and notice some banding, the first step is to duplicate the gradient layer by dragging it onto the new layer icon. Now make sure you are working on your gradient copy layer and go to the filter menu and select gaussian blur.
You want to add a large amount blur but make sure you don’t alter the colors by adding too much. When adding a large amount of blur you will create some transparency on your edges. To make sure this doesn’t affect your gradient, make sure you leave your original gradient turned on and directly below the copy.
Now, click the new layer icon at the bottom of your layers pallet while holding down option (alt for PC)
After clicking the new layer button, a new layer dialog box should appear if you were holding down the option or alt key. First change the mode to Overlay and then select the Fill with overlay – neutral color (50% – gray) box. Change the layer name to something simple like gray overlay and hit the ok button.
You should not notice any changes in the document besides a new layer in the layers palette. Now go to the filter menu and select add noise.
When adding noise, the amount you select will be different for every gradient. You want to make sure you use very little because too much will give it a noticeable texture. It’s a very fine line and in some cases you will have to decide if a little more texture is better than not completely eliminating the streaks. Just remember you can always lower the opacity of the noise layer if you later decide it’s too much.
For the last step I like to go around the edges with a soft brush in the darker areas and mask out some of the noise so I can blend it in with a solid color easier. If you don’t do this, you will have some very obvious hard edges. You might also add a new layer and select the gradient tool going from solid to transparent adding a slight gradient to the edges in the color of your choice. If this were going to the web then that’s how I would do it.
Now that we have our gradient corrected we can move on to bigger and better things like finishing our design! Thanks for following along.