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Tutorial: Soft smooth color touch on your photos!

Written by , translated by devvv · Created on Apr 29, 2012, last updated about 12 years ago CC BY-NC License


You can see a similar effect on Rihannas album cover Loud where there is a general low contrast and the darker parts of the image are slightly colored to give it an interesting new (bit unnatural) look. The aim of this effect is to create an overall quiet and silent/timeless feeling. There is an easy way in GIMP to create it. Enjoy!

Tutorial details

  1. 1

    I’ve opened a desktop wallpaper of Rihanna (just google for it ;)). You can make the effect on every well lightened photo as well!

    • Open the image
    • Create a transparent layer
    • Choose the blend tool. Set the FG color to #fff2d8. Choose the gradient type “FG to transparency”.
  2. 2

    Drag a gradient from the upper left corner (start from outside of the canvas) to the bottom right corner (to outside as well). That creates a very soft light shine.

  3. 3

    Set the opacity of the transparent layer to 40%. The lower you set the value the lesser dark parts will be colored in the next step.

  4. 4

    Right click the layer in the layers dialog and choose “New from Visible”.

    On the newly created layer go to

    • Colors / Color Balance with these values. Set the “shadows” option and use the values 20/-20/17 to create a dark violet color in the dark parts of the image. Try other colors as well ;)
  5. 5

    The image is now looking more interesting and a little softer while the not dark colors remain unchanged. Hope you like it!


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darkusw member for over 11 years darkusw 4 comments rated this topic with 5/5
over 11 years ago

good, I like the results

about 12 years ago

download the RC-1 in the downloads of this website!

about 12 years ago

Is there anyone who can tell me how I ccould get gimp and use 2.8?

devvv member for almost 18 years devvv 1475 comments
about 12 years ago

Thanks, you're welcome!

Yes, I decided to use English now, because Germans know English better than all others know German language ;)

Please note: This tutorial won't work in GIMP 2.6 or lower since all the color tools are now based on GEGL wich will have some different outcome (especially "color balance").

Coche member for about 15 years Coche 13 comments rated this topic with 5/5
about 12 years ago

Thanks devvv! its quick and easy to do, but the results are great! I also like that now you use GIMP UI in English, so is more easier to follow than before!

about 12 years ago

This looks most interesting. Thanks for posting.

Cuban-Pete member for over 13 years Cuban-Pete 8 comments rated this topic with 5/5
about 12 years ago

I like it. Thanks!