PLEASE HELP! Severe gradient banding problem with Photoshop brush tool


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Jun 9, 2005
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#1
I'm really at my wit's end. It's seriously affecting my design & post processing workflow.
This is a problem that I have never encountered before in my 10 years or so of using Photoshop. I am currently using Photoshop CS3. I have no idea how this happened, but when I tried to use the brush tool few weeks ago, with my soft brush settings set at default, I realised that there were hard lines or edges whenever I tried to draw over the canvas with it. The same applies for the eraser tool. U guys can take a look at the image I have posted below.

I have done everything possible. Reset all my settings, including the brush settings, tried switching my resolution from 32 bit to 16 bit, tried working in 16 bit RGB mode instead of 8 bit RGB which I used all the time without any problems in the past, uninstalled and reinstalled Photoshop & still got this same disastrous effect. In this image I used filled the layer background with gradient fill, and as u can see the gradient tone is rather smooth.

Next, I created a new layer and clicked the brush tool on the canvas a few times, at around 700px size and set at 100%. See the difference? Please help me out here guys, any of you who have encountered problems like this before.

 

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Jun 9, 2005
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#2
Here is another example when I create a black layer in front of a white layer and use the eraser tool at 60% and click on the same spot a few times.
 

theRBK

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May 16, 2005
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#4
are you using an LCD screen?...
 

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Jun 9, 2005
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#5
Yeap I am. Philips 220CW 22 inch LCD.
Ok I've tried uninstalling the Philips drivers and reverting back to a generic display driver, and used an sRGB color profile.
It seems to have improved only slightly, have no issues with other colours but the banding looks really obvious with black and white colours.
I just bought an ATI HD4850 graphics card recently, could that be part of the problem? I even installed the latest drivers and all.
 

theRBK

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May 16, 2005
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#6
I would say this problem resides in the monitor rather than Photoshop or the graphics card/driver... I would assume most of your (and probably most of anyone who has done 10yrs or so of Photoshop stuff including myself) previous experience of using photoshop would be with a CRT... the thing with CRTs is that they are analog devices and are able to dither much more effectively than LCDs (because they are analog devices and probably have less absolute sharpness and the slight blurriness helps to smoothen the image ;))... the thing with LCDs is that the pixels that form the image are discrete and the bit depth of the monitor is usually only 8bits or 6bits, and to create an image, the pixel only has so much range of variation available to it... so the monitor has to cheat some times to show gradients... and this comes out in gradients that are less than smooth (i.e. banding is visible)... to get really smooth gradients on LCD screens, we would probably have to get high bit depth screens (and even then I'm not even sure using a 10bit screen, the state of the art for commercially available screens at the moment, can totally get rid of such banding) or just add a little noise to break down the pattern of the banding to reduce the apparent appearance of the banding... :)
 

jopel

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Dec 21, 2004
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#7
Print the image. If the print has the banding than it might not be the monitor. Or try plug in another monitor to see whether it has the same problem or not.
 

yqt

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Sep 8, 2004
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#8
I would say this problem resides in the monitor rather than Photoshop or the graphics card/driver... I would assume most of your (and probably most of anyone who has done 10yrs or so of Photoshop stuff including myself) previous experience of using photoshop would be with a CRT... the thing with CRTs is that they are analog devices and are able to dither much more effectively than LCDs (because they are analog devices and probably have less absolute sharpness and the slight blurriness helps to smoothen the image ;))... the thing with LCDs is that the pixels that form the image are discrete and the bit depth of the monitor is usually only 8bits or 6bits, and to create an image, the pixel only has so much range of variation available to it... so the monitor has to cheat some times to show gradients... and this comes out in gradients that are less than smooth (i.e. banding is visible)... to get really smooth gradients on LCD screens, we would probably have to get high bit depth screens (and even then I'm not even sure using a 10bit screen, the state of the art for commercially available screens at the moment, can totally get rid of such banding) or just add a little noise to break down the pattern of the banding to reduce the apparent appearance of the banding... :)
Print the image. If the print has the banding than it might not be the monitor. Or try plug in another monitor to see whether it has the same problem or not.

Had this problem before also. The printed copy also like that :dunno:
 

theRBK

Senior Member
May 16, 2005
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#9
print dithering for the most part is also 8bit except for some of the high end printers which claim to have 16bit dithering... the surest way to reduce the apparent appearance of banding would still be adding abit of noise...
 

Jun 9, 2005
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#10
Hi theRBK. Yeap I am aware of the adding noise trick, as well as some gaussian blur when it comes to the final output. Will do that sometimes for some of my print work before it goes for final output. But yeap u are right CRT monitors have less absolute sharpness as compared to LCDs. Funny how modern & improved technology can fire back at us at times eh? :)
jopel: The printout will still have a bit of banding but it's not as bad as compared on screen.
The reason why this can be so frustrating is because the banding affects my vision to achieve the best tonal gradient when working on PS, esp. when doing digital painting. This problem is usually more apparent when I'm using a larger brush size & working with black&white colours. Unfortunately I don't have another monitor for me to plug into to try. My Macbook & workplace iMac does not produce such results on screen.
One more thing, can u guys see the banding on the samples above? If u can, doesn't it mean that it's something wrong with my PS settings, instead of my screen?
 

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