Advanced Color Correction in Photoshop

Lesson 3/5 - Color Matching in Photoshop


Advanced Color Correction in Photoshop


Lesson Info

Color Matching in Photoshop

One other essential is that every color has an opposite. And if you ever have seen a color wheel, a color wheel can be used to show you the opposite colors. You can always Google color wheel to find one. But opposite colors are on opposite edges of this circle. So the opposite of blue just try to form the longest line you could possibly make across this surface starting at blue. And to make the longest line wouldn't you have to go perfectly through the middle to exactly the other side. Well that right over there on the other side will be the opposite color. So the opposite of blue is yellow. It's like a see-saw or a teeter-totter or whatever you call it when moving one side moves the other side in the opposite way. So imagine in an image we had one that was overly blue. So in my left hand is blue. On this hand we would have the opposite color. And it's just telling me visually right now that we don't have enough yellow. If we push yellow into the image it's automatically gonna absorb i...

t's opposite. And so whenever we see an image that it's just obvious it has too much yellow in it or whatever color. You pick the color. You can go to a color wheel here and say what I need to do to get rid of that excessive yellow is I need to push in the opposite. Because the opposite will absorb it. The opposites absorb each other. Now that might not make complete sense yet but once we get into making a good number of adjustments I think it might. And it's one of the key concepts of color correction is we want to know that every color has an opposite and if you push the opposite color in you can remove a color cast. So let's see if I can show you an example. Alright does this image look to have a color cast? Do you guys agree? I think it's relatively obvious approximately what color it is. To me it looks too yellow-orange. So here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna duplicate this layer. There are many different ways of duplicating a layer. One that I use most commonly is to type command J. That's control J in Windows. And that's just a shortcut for this particular command right here called Layer Via Copy. But I use it so often I'm used to the keyboard shortcut. And if you just think of jumping something to a new layer then you can remember command J, control J on Windows. The next thing I'm gonna do is if you look at this image the color cast dominates just about everything. And so what I wanna do is blur this image but I'm gonna blur it so much that there'll be no detail whatsoever. So imagine you averaged all the colors that are in here down to a single color. You can do that with a filter. If you go down to filter and chose blur there's a choice called average. Average would blur your image so much that it becomes a solid color. You would have just the essence of what was there. Isn't that about the essence of the color that was dominating this thing? Now I wanna get the opposite of that color. And as long as I'm in RGB mode I can easily get the opposite by doing the following adjustment. Invert, invert gives you the opposite of something. If you had white you'd end up with black. But when it comes to colors you'll also find the opposites. So if you were to look at this particular color and look at it on a color wheel. Even this doesn't have all the brightness shades you can still look for the pure version of the color. Wouldn't it be somewhere in this general area here? Well if you draw a straight line all the way across the color wheel at the longest line you could make you'd have to go right through the center and then you'd end up somewhere down here, wouldn't ya? So when I go to that image and I chose image adjustments invert we should end up with a color that is across the other side of the color wheel. You can do that with any color. If you don't have a color wheel accessible to you just create a brand new document, fill it with the color you're thinking of and chose invert. It's command I, is the keyboard shortcut. You'll have the opposite. So now if we can force this color into the image to shift the image towards this color it's gonna be like a see-saw or a teeter-totter. Where we had an excess of it's opposite in there and now we're gonna force this in and as we do it should absorb that. Now there is a point where I could force in too much and then we will have absorbed all of the excess of the opposite color and we're gonna then make it obvious that we've been pushing this in. But when I push this in to start with there's so much of an abundance of it's opposite color we're not gonna notice that this is being pushed in at all. Only when all of that abundance of the other color is gone will you start noticing I'm doing it. So let's try it out. Here's how we do it. In the layers panel there is this little menu called the blending mode menu. And when I click on it one of the choices down here is called color. And what color does is it leaves the brightness of the image alone and it just makes it this color. Whatever color's on this layer. So you see the entire picture is all that color. So that's like swinging it way the opposite direction where we've absorbed all of the color cast that's there and then we over did it. So now what I need to do is come over here to my layers panel and you see the opacity setting. To adjust the opacity I'm gonna click on the word opacity and I'm just gonna drag like this. And what I'll do is I'll first drag way to the left to get it to zero. And then I'll slowly bring it up like this. And I'll see how much can we get away with pushing into this image. So I'll click on the word opacity, drag it so it goes to zero and now let's see what happens when I bring it up. Are you seeing how there's not as much of an abundance of that color that was dominating this picture. Now if I go too far then you're gonna start noticing. But if I start at zero and I slowly bring it up and up and up. I'll try to judge when I think I haven't gone too far but then before I make my final determination what am I gonna do? I'm gonna look away from my screen. I'm gonna look at just stuff around the room or whatever. Look at a white sheet of paper on your table. Whatever it is, your notes. And just all you're trying to do is make it so your eyes are not adjusted to this picture. They're not used to the picture anymore. And then I'll look back and I'll make a final determination. Can I do a little bit more or do I need to back off? And it becomes much easier to determine if you can get away with a little more because otherwise your eyes, it's just like when we had that American flag up there. If you've been staring at these colors for a long time your eyes are adjusting to it the moment we get rid of it you see the opposite color show up. It's just your eyes are still compensating for something that no longer needs to be compensated for and we have to look away. So if you wanna see before and after I'll turn off the eyeball for this top layer. There's what we had before and here's what we have after. So I wouldn't necessarily use this technique on average images because it's no where near as sophisticated as using the eye droppers. 'Cause remember with the eye droppers we have three eye droppers. One for the bright area, one for the dark area, one for any brightness in between. But this is what you use when the other tools fail you and you wanna go for a brute force, you know, I'm just gonna force this color in there and I'm not gonna be subtle about it. This is what you might use when you have a picture shot underwater. Where the color cast is so strong you can hardly tell what's left in the picture. Well then you need to do something a little more aggressive to try to fix it. So if you don't remember what I did I can do it one more time quick. I duplicated the layer. That's command J. Then I blurred it so much that I could only see one color. And that's only useful when the majority of what you can see is the color cast. Meaning the color cast is dominating your picture so much that it's hard to tell what else is left. And you're welcome to make a selection. Like do you see the blue light coming in through the window? That's because there's a different color light out there. I could like make a selection like this to say ignore the blue light. And then come over here and say blur average. That might be more precise. So it doesn't average this in. But then I would have to select some of this and I'd use my move tool. I don't know if you're familiar or not but when you move something usually you move the original over. But if you hold on the option key, alt in Windows. You move a copy and therefore there won't be a big hole here when I drag this over. So if I hold option and drag over like that I could fill it in. We want the opposite of that color. I type command I, or it's image, adjustments, invert. Then I go to the top of my layers panel. That's where I find the blunting mode menu. I go to color and I adjust my opacity bringing it all the way down slowly bringing it up. Look away from my screen for awhile, get used to other things, and then come back and see if you can go a little further or if it's too much. And don't expect perfection. We're using such a crude method here to do color correction that this is only for extreme cases. And I mainly wanted it to hopefully get your brain to feel more comfortable with every color has an opposite. If there's too much of one, one solution is pushing in it's opposite until the excess has been absorbed. And this just happens to be an example of it. Alright. Any questions or comments so far? Is any of this starting to make any sense? Alright, yes get the microphone to you. I was just thinking it might be kinda cool to see the last example but then to see you do a comparison side by side between the eyedroppers. Okay the very last one. And see how the results differ. Or maybe come out to probably the same. Often times not. When it's an extreme case sometimes the more precise adjustments will fail you. Because the image is just so screwed up that it's not gonna do it. But we'll find out. If I come in here and the first thing is I'm gonna detach this little guy so I can move it. I'm just gonna get it so I can see most of the picture. You can grab the white eyedropper. And the brightest area might be here or it's on her shoulder. Or you know, somewhere like that. There is a way to find out what you do is when you're in levels there are these end controls here and here. And it's kind of a hidden feature. If you hold on the option key and you grab this and pull it in the first thing that turns white, not a color but white, is the brightest part of your photo. Just be careful because levels, the dialogue box might be covering up the part of your photo that turns white first. So do you see on the right side there's a sheet of paper on the table. It's white already. I'll back off to see if it's the first thing that goes white. I think that there's a little bit of white on her shoulder. It's a rather small area but I don't know if you can see it from your perspective but I think there's some white there. Now once you found that area you don't wanna just let go and leave this slider where it is 'cause look at the picture now. You need to put it back to where it started. Which is always all the way over. Alright, but I know that the brightest part is right up here on her shoulder. Then I can go to the opposite slider, the one on the far left. I can hold down the option key again. That's through Windows, grab it and pull it in and ignore the colors, look for the first thing that turns black. Once you get a big area back off until you find the first thing. And I'm not gonna look for a speck. I'm gonna look for a blob. You know, not just one pixel. I just wanna find the first black blob. So you see that part near the lower right? There's kinda two areas to choose from. I'm gonna let go just to remember what it was. It's a part of her arm, like her sleeve. And then I'll move this slider back to where I started. Now I can grab those eye droppers. I'll grab the white eye dropper, I'll try her shoulder. I'll grab the black eye dropper and I'll try her sleeve. And then I'll grab the middle eye dropper and I'll experiment. There's a sheet of paper down here that I think would be a white sheet of paper most likely. She's also got some in front of her so I'll try that. And you see how this is failing me? And that's because when it's an extreme adjustment the tools that are the most precise are not gonna be effective. You're gonna need a brute force attack. And that's when you use something that is so crude that, you use something like I showed you in the other image, okay. Now the other thing though about this is I usually only use the eye droppers that help. So I'm gonna reset this. There's a icon at the bottom here that looks like an arrow pointing, like a U-turn arrow. And if I press that it will reset it. Whenever I use these eye droppers if I was about to click here and when I did I found that the colors didn't look better I'd choose undo. And I would go with the rest of the eye droppers. Just skipping the one that didn't help. So when I click here still helps. When I grab the middle one I would try here, ew. Command Z for undo and I just might try other places. Maybe try this part of her shirt because that's a white shirt, don't you think? So I'll try there, ew. And maybe this, isn't that like a white thing? That's not as bad, you know. But you can experiment. I'm always experimenting with the middle eye dropper to do this. Now I should mention that you can change the settings on these eye droppers. And you really should change the setting for the white eye dropper because with default settings when you use the white eye dropper and you click somewhere it's going to make that area as bright as it could possibly be. Which means it's gonna become white. And the only thing that I usually want to have white in my pictures are bright light sources or reflections of those light sources on shiny things. Like a chrome bumper or the waves in a lake where the light catches the edge of it. Or a chrome watch, you know around. I can see the light catching yours right now and it's brighter than anything else in there. And most of the time when I'm using these eye droppers I ignore what's called speculars. A specular is something that you can either have a diffused highlight, which means it still has detail in it. Or a specular highlight which means it's so bright it's like reflected like a mirror off of chrome things and it shouldn't really contain detail. And so when using the white eye dropper I skip speculars. Those really shiny areas that are so bright. And the other thing then is if that's the case the area that I'm clicking on is what's known as the diffused highlight. It's where there's still a little detail. And with default settings this eye dropper makes things white. And so that's not gonna make it still a diffused highlight. It's not gonna have detail in it. But a double click on the white eye dropper. And if you look at the default settings down here it'll tell you that this is how much ink would be used if you printed that image. And you'd see it'd just be a white sheet of paper there. And if I'm clicking on what's known as the diffused highlight. Diffused means that it's gonna have detail in it still. Then this wouldn't be a good amount to use. I want there to still be detail. Usually the lightest shade of gray that can universally be printed on just about any kind of printing process is around 3% gray. So the only problem with that I don't wanna type in 3% for all these numbers to say give me that much ink because we need to make sure that what we're choosing is a shade of gray. It's not bluish, it's not yellowish, it's not greenish and when I mentioned that balanced red, green, and blue makes gray, that's not true in CMYK mode. Balanced cyan, magenta, and yellow do not make gray, okay. So here's how we're gonna do it. Over here is the letter B. B stands for brightness. I'm gonna click right there where the number is and I'm just gonna use the down arrow key to say don't go 100% as bright as you can go. Just go a little bit darker. A little bit darker. And I'll look at the CMYK numbers as I do it. Knowing that about 3% is a lightish that we can universally reproduce on just about anything. And so I'll bring this down until the numbers that are there are 3% or higher and you ignore black because in the brightest part of your picture you don't use any black. So therefore this is the correct mix. You see we have a balanced amount of red, green, and blue which means it is a shade of gray. But we're really looking at this as our gauge to how bright should it be. I just clicked on a letter B over here where the number was. Use the down arrow key until I got at least 3%. Now the good thing about this is when you click on okay and I actually click on okay here it'll ask me, do you wanna change that so they're the new defaults? And I'm gonna say yes. And therefore you only have to do that once. It's a pain in the butt. You don't wanna mentally think about it at all. But it's important because now when I click with the white eye dropper it's not gonna become white where I click. It'll become really bright but it will be dark enough to still have a hint of detail. And therefore it will give us a better end result. Only need to do that once. And the only time you'll have to do it again is if you're Photoshop preferences somehow get reset. You know, somebody threw away your preferences file or it ran into a big enough problem where you had to you know mess with them. But otherwise it should remember them, okay. Just have to do it once and the way I did it is I went in here to levels, although you could do the same thing in curves. I double clicked on the white eye dropper. And the same setting is used for all eye droppers that end up with, when you have a black, a gray, and a white eye dropper they're all connected to each other. So changing the setting for one of them like the one in curves is also changing it for the one in levels. They're identical features. But then you can see it's still set. The one for black you don't usually need to adjust and the darkest part of the photograph I do like it to have a speck of black there so I don't change that. And for those of you that print on printing presses as long as you're in RGB mode when you use this eye dropper you'll be fine. Because it will if you convert to CMYK mode which some people need to do before printing on a printing press, it will automatically make sure you're not using too much ink in the dark part of your image. When you convert to CMYK mode. Alright so we got that. So now I think we've gone through most of the essential concepts for color correction. And now we just get to explore a bunch of images that are messed up. And how do we fix them and are there some other little special techniques we can throw in there? But I mainly wanted to make sure that you had more of an understanding of color correction instead of just a bag of tricks that you don't understand. Alright, I'm not saying you totally understand what's going on but you got a hint that there's something behind it. Some logic that hopefully makes sense.

Class Description

Master the art of color correction, and learn how to edit images with challenging lighting issues. Make use of the wide variety of features that Photoshop has available for images with mixed light sources, complex highlight and shadow situations, or underwater lighting. Gain the ability to bring images that you believe to be terrible back from the brink of the trashcan, and shoot with greater confidence that you can correct your images in post.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2


Rachelle R. Vetter

Great course w a lot of good information.

Carolyn Whiteside

Awesome explanation of color and how to use that knowledge to apply to color correcting techniques!