How to get rid of gradient banding in photoshop

Banding sucks. When I first started playing around in photoshop, I would have no idea how to solve obvious banding problems whenever I was working with gradients. Fortunately it’s an easy problem to solve – just add noise!

Sounds simple enough, but you’ll have to be careful not to go overboard as noise can just straight up ruin your image. Here is safe way to add noise that isn’t destructive which will easily allow you to tweak settings if you feel like it later.

Here is a gradient I was having problems with yesterday. You’ll find the banding more noticeable when you have similar colors in a 2 color gradient, and the distance between the two is relatively far.

Lets start off by converting the gradient to a smart object by right clicking on the layer.

Then lets add some noise to the smart object by selecting Filter > Noise > Add Noise

Now the goal is to make this as subtle as possible, so lets only add 1%.

Looks like the banding is gone, but even at 1%, the image looks way too noisy. Since we added the noise on top of a smart object, we can easily modify attributes of the noise on the fly including the amount, and transparency. Since we already have the lowest amount of noise available, we’re going to reduce the transparency to make it a bit more subtle. If you look in the layers palette, you’ll now notice a little levels icon underneath our smart filter.

Double clicking that will allow us to edit the transparency of that smart filter alone. At this point you’re going to want to knock back the opacity to a nice middleground where the noise isn’t obvious, and the banding is gone. In this case, I’ll set it to 50%.

If you’re experiencing banding when you’re saving or compressing your images, another solution is to add noise to the channel where the banding is most prominent. There are a couple extra steps involved, but the end result is much more subtle and worthwhile.

 

Comments

  1. zeus    April 3rd, 2012 at 07:45am

    WOW!!!! actually i don’t really care about the band…because i thought i could not be fixed and was just normal… the way you played around on how to fix this was awesome…

  2. Mike DeLeon    April 22nd, 2012 at 08:36pm

    I use this technique all the time! There is a photoshop action floating around – http://tinyurl.com/7a9kjn2

    Haven’t used it myself, however people who want the ease of a one click fix may appreciate it.

  3. Ross Durant    November 12th, 2013 at 11:06am

    I converted my images to 32 bit, then used the gradient filter to create a darker sky. When I converted back to 8 bit the banding seemed to disappear. Try this out so it’s worked very well on 3 files, me likes it!

  4. Andy    December 16th, 2013 at 11:27pm

    This tutorial have helped me a lot. I didn’t knew about this options as i am at my early stage of using photoshop and have started designing free WordPress themes. Nice work!.

  5. Jasmine    February 9th, 2014 at 06:04pm

    Thank Youuuuuuu :)

  6. mrahmadi    September 12th, 2014 at 10:59am

    thank You