Terrible news! As of yesterday, all of my gradients in Photoshop started turning ugly, with horrible color banding like this:

enter image description here

My problem seems to be isolated to Photoshop, but it’s only happened in the past day on two different machines (my Mac Pro and Macbook Pro).

So far I’ve tried all these things and failed:

  1. Reinstalled the previous OSX 10.5.7 update
  2. Reinstalled Photoshop CS4
  3. Turned off the GPU acceleration in Photoshop
  4. Reset all the display setting on my computer

It’s only happened since I updated to 10.5.8, but what stumps me is that when I reinstalled the OS with 10.5.7 I still have the problem. And since it’s happening on different machines, even when I turn off GPU acceleration, I don’t think it has to do with the graphics card, at least not directly.

My main computer specs:

  • Model Name: MacBook Pro
  • Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Processor Speed: 2.5 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB, Type: DDR3
  • Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz
  • 2 Graphics cards: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M

The latest comic is on hold until I can resolve this, so any help would be aggressively appreciated!


It was a color profile problem compounded by something funky with the OS display settings.

Aaron Diaz on Twitter, Dresden Codak

The non-Twitter version:

Turns out it was a combination of a color profile error that was being exacerbated by some screwy display settings that followed the OSX 10.5.8 update.


Weird. I've tried to duplicate it with 8 bit / 16 bit settings, dither on and off, blend modes, and messing with other things. However, i came back to the gradient itself. Is it possible your gradient libraries are modified from the defaults? A default gradient should look like this:

alt text

But if it looks more like this:

alt text

You can get something similar to what you're seeing. I've exaggerated the effect, so it's not exactly like what you've got, but close.

alt text


Are any of the blend modes set? Is the gradient curve straight?

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You're seeing the gradient because the gradient doesn't have enough steps in it to produce the entire array of colors between your start and ending point.

One way people suggest is to turn up the colour depth.

I just made an 800x600 graphic, 32bit color, and a white to black gradient - only minimal banding.

Making the same graphic in 8bit color, much more visible banding.

The best solution I've seen is to use a shape with a layer style attached to it. There is less banding, because the shape is a vector, rather than a raster layer.

Otherwise, reduce the difference in color between your two endpoints, and you should be right.

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