I have a monochrome image, and would like to replace the colour with a gradient.

I assume the best way to do this would be to create a background layer with the gradient, and then apply the monochrome image as a mask. However, I can't for the life of me get this to work. If I copy the image, and then try to paste it into a mask layer, it just creates a new normal layer and pastes it there.

How to accomplish this?

  • 1
    Not entirely clear what you're trying to do here - esp. when you say "I have a monochrome image, and would like to replace the colour..." An image would probably help.
    – e100
    May 26, 2011 at 12:32
  • @e100: By monochrome I mean an image with a shades of a single colour. Monochrome does not necessarily equal B&W. I'll try to update the questions to make it a bit clearer.
    – UpTheCreek
    May 27, 2011 at 6:49

3 Answers 3


I don't have version 8 anymore, but try this.

  1. Select All and copy the image from the layer you want to use as a grayscale mask.
  2. Switch to the channels tab of the layers panel.
  3. Add a new channel. Paste your image data in that new channel.
  4. Click the button on the bottom of that panel labeled "Load channel as Selection" — you will get a marquee selection of the alpha channel.
  5. Switch back to the layers panel, click on the layer you wish to apply a mask to and click the button at the bottom of that panel "Add Layer Mask".

That should be all you need. There's probably an easier way, but I can't think of it right now.

  • Wow, nice solution :D
    – aorcsik
    May 11, 2012 at 16:04

Method 1 (Adds a simple gradient):

  1. Convert your monochrome image to RGB (Image > Mode > RGB).

  2. Double-click the background layer to convert it to a regular layer.

  3. Add a new layer below the image (Ctrl/Cmd Click on the new layer icon).

  4. Fill that layer with the color gradient.

  5. Change the blend mode of the image layer to "Luminosity."

Method 2 (Recolorizes the image):

  1. Convert your monochrome image to RGB mode as above.

  2. Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer.


I can't really understand what you're trying to do with the gradient, but to paste into a layer mask:

Select the layer with a mask.

Go to Channels and the mask is listed as the bottom channel.

  • 1
    Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but this donsn't work for me. When I try to paste into the mask, a new layer is created instead and it's pasted into that.
    – UpTheCreek
    May 27, 2011 at 7:00
  • You have to make sure the mask is the active channel, by turning on its visibility and turning off the others.
    – jhocking
    May 27, 2011 at 10:33

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