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Color Matching in Photoshop

Lesson 4 of 6

Using Curves to Adjust Color in Layers and Masks

Jason Hoppe

Color Matching in Photoshop

Jason Hoppe

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Lesson Info

4. Using Curves to Adjust Color in Layers and Masks

Lesson Info

Using Curves to Adjust Color in Layers and Masks

Now, what's interesting here is that yes, we do have this kind of brighter area in the middle right there. It looks a little bit more yellow, but this is the great part because we're doing this on an adjustment layer here. I can also go back in, and I can mask out the certain areas that I would like to adjust less. Okay, so when we do this and what seems really crazy here is that, you know, even though we over adjusted right there, I could go back in and I'm actually going Teoh, ramp this up a bit and this looks like a little bit too intense to me right there. So I'm gonna select my mask, going to take my brush tool, take a very large brush. I'm using my right bracket to make it large. My shift left bracket to kind of soften that up and I'm gonna paint with black and actually an opacity of black here on this layer in order to go in and kind of cutback, the amount of color adjustment on that layer. So as I apply the mask to it, it's going to go in, and it's going to give me that softnes...

s right there. And what's interesting is when you actually now go in and drag your orange over to there and you look at those areas there. You can see that we've got that orange fairly close in there. And it's really tricky when you do something. This with this much light in this much dark in there with this, I would probably go back into and probably take out just a little bit of the yellow in there. But from what we started with, we had that. Now you notice I didn't go in and adjust any of the shadows Highlights Midtown's at all. I just kept the color range right where it iss. So if I were to go in and want to do something like this on a less complicated object, like a shirt, it works a whole lot easier. But with something like this, where you have your highlights and shadows there, it gets kind of complicated. So if we jump over to the shirts here, which we have my properties out of there, this is where I could go in. And I could sample colors for an Emmy, any image, and apply under the shirt. Now, what works Nice here. We have very continuous color. So I want to go in and I want to color an orange and a red in the green shirt here with this. So what I'm gonna do, we just create a new layer, and I take my selection tool. And I would put my orange here, jump over to my pepper. I'm gonna grab the red of the pepper Here, take my eyedropper tool very large average on him in a sample over this and run my cursor over until I I think I get a pretty decent reading. I don't want to go to dark. I don't want to go to light. I'm gonna go someplace in the middle here because my perception of color I mean, everybody sees this is red, But what color red is it is the highlight. Red of the shadow. Red. So I'm gonna select that red jump back over to the shirts here, draw another selection here for the red, And then I think I'm gonna grab the green from the leaves of the orange here and using a very large average, I'm gonna go in. I'm gonna sample that, and I think that's going to give me a decent green right there. Jump back to my shirts, go in and there's my color right there. So when I start off with my shirts here, nice thing is they're all the same color now. What's interesting here is that I specifically picked like the shirts here. It's got a decent saturation to it. It's really tricky. If you want to go in and take a very lightly like a dusty pink or a dusty yellow shirt and try to make it really saturated, that's a lot more difficult. So starting off with a fairly equal saturation is gonna help out substantially because we're just going for the color matching here. And once you get into the highlights in the shadows and the saturation, it becomes quite tricky. It's doable. But with the shirts here, I'm just going to take a quick reading on this and with my shirts I have got reading of basically two or 31 12 and 1 48 and if I jump over to my orange here, I see that I've got my to 33 that's gonna be my orange and someone start off with my very first shirt here. It's gonna be that one and gonna jump into my hue and saturation right there. And I'm going to get that as orange as I can. And, you know, sometimes you just get hugely lucky and you just land on that color orange or the color blue or whatever, and I'm guessing that that's going to be kind of the closest I'm going to get to that orange right there. Next, I'm gonna go to this shirt and I'm going to create my hue and saturation layer here. And what's interesting with this is if I put my hue and saturation above the second shirt and I begin to adjust it. Do you see how it adjusts all the shirts below? Because, of course, every adjustment layer affects every single thing underneath. So I'm gonna just this shirt until I get to the red. It's like that's darn close, but it's also how taking my orange shirt and completely adjusted that. So when I do an adjustment layer, what I'm gonna do is I'm going to At the bottom of my adjustment is I'm going to do what's called a layer clipping and it's going to clip this adjustment Onley to the layer that's below it. And so it's only going to clip it to this shirt, which means it's only affecting that shirt. I didn't have to mask it out or anything. I just simply clipped it. So wherever that those pixels exist on that layer, that's what I get. And then the 3rd 1 I'm gonna jump over to this shirt right here and again. I'm gonna do a hue and saturation layer on this, and I'm going to make sure I clipped that to the layer so it doesn't change everything else. I'm gonna slide this over to the green and see where my green is going to get. It's kind of a yellowy green right there. Now, the red turned out pretty good. The green did. But the orange certainly has some issues, so we're gonna have to adjust now. What helps is that people's perception is different. So what I do is I literally take those colors watches on. I put them right on the image itself, Okay, so they could actually see. And maybe you want to put him right in the middle here. If you want. You can see how the white affect your perception of color, because when you put it on there, it's like, Wow, that red looks pretty close. You know, this greens watches a little bit lighter, but when you put it in the middle of their you're like, Oh, yeah, you know, it changes substantially. And the thing with color, everybody has a different perception of color. Okay, that's why we do this by the numbers to make sure that we get everything adjusted the way we want. Teoh. So I'm gonna start off here on, We'll start with the green shirt that I have and I'm going Teoh, go in and I'm going, Teoh, create an adjustment layer here using curves and with my curves adjustment layer going to go in and I've got my green here on. I'm gonna take down my green so that I know what my green is. And my green is gonna be 1 35 It's gonna be 1 89 and 66 these numbers are basically close. We want to get it in that range. So when I have my curves adjustment here, I want to make sure that that curves. Adjustment is also going to be clipped to that layer. So what effects on Lee my shirt. So because they didn't do that when I created my layer adjustment, I can go into my layers panel and hold down my option key an option. Click that on there or unclip it. And now I've got my adjustment. So I'm basically at Let's see here. So I've got my shirt. So my blue for my shirt right here was basically 31 12 and 1 48 just to confirm that. Here. So Yep. 31 12 1 53 So that's my actual color right there. But when I come to my green here, I turned that green layer on. This is fairly close. So with my adjusted turn, this layer on here and I see now my adjusted one is in the nineties, like 1 50 and blue is too. So I'm not too far off from a turn on my curves adjustment layer. And I'm in a double click on that curve there, and I'm to start off with my red click on my little scrubby tool. Right? They're gonna hover over this. So my read is in the nineties, and it needs to bump up to, like, 1 35 So I'm gonna go up and I'm gonna bring this up into kind of like the one thirtyish range someplace around there. And I know it may seem a bit too much, but we still have to balance the other colors. My 2nd 1 is going to be my green, and my original reading was, like, 1 50 now it needs to be like 1 89 So again, I'm gonna click on the same area of my shirt on. I'm gonna bring this up to, like 1 89 and all of a sudden it's like, Oh, my gosh, See that green swatch disappearing? Now we know that were dead close because the last adjustment, it look like we're going way far away. And that's where people stop. They're like, Oh, my gosh, you know, I'm going the wrong direction and it's like, Okay, it's one turn of many in this whole drive process, and then the last one is going to be my blue here and with this, the blue was kind of low, so we need to bump up the blue and that's gonna add more blue to it. And I needed to be in the 60 s range. That's pretty good. I mean, it's almost impossible to tell. And it's like, Okay, no amount of going in there and sliding sliders and pressing buttons are going to do that. It's all by the numbers. Now. Keep in mind that the numbers are not exact. It's a general range because you're gonna have different tonal ranges in your objects. Okay, so there's the green, the greens taken care of, and it's like, Wow, I mean, since that greens watches disappeared on their you know you've matched it. Not bad. So let's try the red here, so I'm gonna go in with the red. And what's tricky is that we have a question. Okay, it iss a photo. Wander wants to know. Does Jason. Every is an anchor point to reference the same spot for color that I don't use an anchor point simply because I use a general area. So it would be great to have an anchor point, but that anchor point is totally subjective. So you know, why is that anchor point better than another one? I choose a general area. So if I go in, I always go back like here. I just targeted, you know, kind of in this area right here, general area, because the numbers are just close. Okay, so we want to get those in there because it was a solid color than that's great, But it isn't a solid color culture. So with the red here, now, keep in mind when you go in and you measure the color, I want to show you this. If I go in and I measure my shirt and I just hover over this and my adjustment layer is turned off, I'm measuring that shirt with no adjustment layer. So the blue is like 2113 1 48 If I turn on that adjustment layer and I now hover over that same layer and I do the readings again, they're totally different. Okay, I don't want to go in and click on the adjustment layer here because the adjustment layer isn't what's doing the reading. I want to click on the actual image with the influence of that adjustment layer to get the right readings and have done it before where I've accidentally measured the wrong thing, and I'm having a heck of a time because I'm driving the wrong direction because they didn't get the right directions to begin with. So the red of my shirt here that I'm reading is about 1 50 40 and two, and it needs to be this color red. So I'm gonna click specifically on that layer to know that I'm getting that specific color. I'm gonna hover over the red and it needs to go to 1 92 28 28 So gonna go back. Teoh my shirt layer. Here. Make sure when I do my adjustment layer, it goes on top of my other adjustment layer. I don't want it sandwiched in between or else I'm going to completely skew the results. So I'm gonna click on this Adjustment layers. When you create a new adjustment layer, it goes above this one. So then new adjustment layer do curves and I call it my curves. And I want to take that I want Teoh clipped that to it. So I've got that click on my scrubby tool click on that same area of the shirt that I measured everything else as well. And what's great here is pay attention to these numbers. So, as you see is I'm going. I started off like 50 It needs to go to 1 90 So I'm gonna drag that up and I can see those numbers going up and up and up, and I can see my image changing. It's giving me the first number, which was my reading originally my pre adjusted number and then my number. After that, I don't know what the flashing is. You know, you're getting close to the end. So there's my red. It's kind of in close to the 1 90 area. Then I'm going to go in, and I need to make sure that I adjust that specific channel and not all of them. That's what happens when you get to talking. Need to pay attention to what you're doing. I want to just just the red here, Not all of them. So I'm gonna go to the red, and now I'm going to adjust that and then up the red Teoh, the kind of the 1 90 ish area right there in a sample, my green as well, and my green needs to come down a bit into the high twenties right there and then sample my blue and my blue needs to go up substantially. And as the blue goes up and up and up into that range, that's looking pretty good as well. Now the numbers will get you dangerously close in some cases because they may have a lot of shadow areas. I may go in and adjust the numbers overall. You may also notice, too, that if you do this quite a lot there shortcuts to get to all of your channels. Here, option 234 and five is basically how to jump through. You're composite, which is your RGB option. 34 and five is going to be your red, green and blue channels. So if you don't want to keep choosing a little drop down menu here and you do this quite a lot, it's just option three option for option five right there. So we're back to our RGB right there Now if I zoom in really close here, But I look at that, you know, that's really hard to beat. Okay, I do see a little bit of black in there, but there is no little black in there to, um, I could adjust this overall, but looking at that, I don't know how it looks in the monitor. Their it looks even better on the monitor. Pretty close, you know. And so I always put the color swatch on top of my object so that, you know, having it off. Whatever background color you use is always gonna influence your color. And because everybody perceives color differently once you put it on there and it disappears, you know it's there, you know it's there. What takes time is understanding what color to adjust if you go in there and do it manually. And some people can understand Oh, it needs more red and you take out the blue What people don't understand. When you take out blue, it makes it more yellow. When you take out, read, it makes it more green, and then they're like, Oh, yeah, you know, gets kind of weird. Some people can do it. So now this is looking pretty good. I've got my green shirt. I've got my red shirt. Now I've got my orange here, my oranges substantially darker. So we're going to see how this turns out as well so I'm gonna jump down to my orange shirt right there. Make sure I have my color adjustment on there. There is my orange shirt. I'm gonna hover over the orange is 1 51 86 3 And it needs to go to my new orange. I'm gonna click on that layer with my swatches, so I specifically know that that is my target. And I'm gonna copy those numbers down to 31 60 someplace around there. There we go. So as I go in, make sure I'm on the right layer. Click on my adjustment layer so my new adjustment layer goes on top. Can't stress to you how important that is. Because if I put it in between there and I just the numbers, it'll look totally different because the layers adjust from top down. And if I put one in between, the human saturation is adjusting my curves. I don't want that. So I can't stress that enough because even I've done that. Why is it not working? Nothing like following my own directions. Okay. I didn't want a hue and saturation layer. I need to pay attention to what I'm doing here. maybe I don't curves. That's what I want. Okay, So with that to go in, I don't need to clip this to the layer because it's the bottom. Most layer in my document there wouldn't make any difference if I did s Oh, there we go. So I'm gonna jump into my red channel Here, grab my little scrubby tool. You have to keep going back and clicking on a little scrappy tool when you do a new layer adjustment there. If you go into a layer adjustment, that scrubby tool is on if you've turned it on. But if you create a new curves adjustment, you will need to go win with that little scrubby. So I'm gonna go in and I'm at 1 50 I need to be at 2 33 with my orange. So I'm going to go up with the red substantially, and it's like, wow, Okay, I wouldn't have thought that I needed to add more red to this perception of color and reality doesn't matter. We're going by the numbers, So I'm gonna jump down to my green here, and my green needs to nearly double, so I'm gonna click right in the same location up my green substantially there as I go up and it's like, Wow, look at that. That's just, like, totally crazy. Okay, so I'm gonna get it around there and then my blue as well, and I made up my blue substantially to, and this would gets a little bit more tricky because with this, what's happening here and it's happened on the other ones, I'm actually applying blue overall, if you look at these curves, it's actually changing by entire curves. Ramp right there and you see how it's actually just flattening out the image. This is a little bit tricky because everything else that I've done with my adjustments here, it's always been going in and bending the curve. It's been leaving by saturated shadows here and my highlights here in the same position. It's just been adjusting the colors overall on that curve. When I get into a position like this and it starts to flatten this out, I have to cheat a little bit. Okay, I have to go in. And if I adjust right here, I see it's actually moving the whole thing. I don't want to do that. I'm actually going to go into this curves ramp here and I'm gonna put a point on here, and I'm going to adjust it differently so that I don't actually move this as much. But I try to go in and move my entire curves ramp so that I begin to adjust that curve. I may need to adjust this a bit, but I don't like to adjust this too much simply because it gets it starts to flatten out the image in that particular color range. So that's why curves work really good. So with this, I realize that that color I'm trying to go in and I'm trying to drive that color in a very different direction. And I'm having a little bit of issue trying to get to that specific color, which is why we chose this, because the orange is very bright and my blue was a bit saturated here. So with this, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go back to my hue and saturation, and I'm going to see if I can change that color at all to get a little bit closer to that specific orange that I was working with and see if I can get into that range a little bit. Mawr using my human saturation right there. So I get to that point and it's tricky and you're always starts to play really funny tricks on you right there. You know? And I could saturate that a little bit Mawr Teoh make that little bit more intense and then they could go back to my curves right here and see where I need to be. Now I have gone in and I have changed my human saturation, so my numbers overall have changed. So when I look at my curves number and I go back to what I needed here and I look at that, those stayed pretty much the same. But my blue here is going to be a little bit of an issue trying to get exactly to that orange. And if I go in and I take a little bit of the blue there, a ramp that up So you want a little bit more yellow in there? I'm doing that trying to get a little bit close, and I'm having trouble getting that blew up there into that specific range right there without flattening my entire image as I go in. There's not much blue to go in and really edit. That's close. And that's actually pretty close. Because when we take out the black in that background there, that's looking pretty close right there. If we have Teoh at this point, we may need to go when we may need to target these colors very specifically. So I got it as close as I could, using the color adjustment there. And the 3rd 1 that I'm going to do is I'm gonna go in and do a new color adjustment here, and I'm gonna go in and I'm gonna dio Selective color and selective color is absolutely awesome. And the reason why I love selective color is I can go in and I can specifically target any color in there without putting a selection around it. Which is why this is called selective color. I don't have to put a selection around a color. I can say I want to target a specific color and even though I'm an RGB mode, I could do RGB. But I can also do sign magenta, yellow, black whites and neutrals, and I know one of the problems that I have with This is kind of the shadows of the ribs of the shirt. There are giving this a slightly darker look and we zoomed in close here and we saw that that that is a problem with those specific ribs. And I look at that. And if I were to take an average of the light yellow in the dark yellow here, that would probably be the color orange that we're going for because we did this by the numbers and I sampled it and they kind of did an average here. So it's like, This is really interesting. So now what I'm gonna do is I'm going to play around with us a little bit more to see if I can go in and I can knock back some of the darker areas. So when I go into my selective color, it's a layer adjustment here, and I have relative and I have. Absolute relative is going to adjust it based on the amount of color that's actually in there. So if I have 10% red in there and I do absolute when I slide my reds up and downs, it's only gonna just it very little because there's not enough. There's not a lot of red in there. If I do, Absolute. This is going to allow me to get the full slider mode so I can create substantial adjustments here through there. And I know by looking at this and you may not know, but there is read in these particular areas here. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to start with my reds here, and I'm going to see if I can just take some of the reds out of there. And, of course, when I dio, it starts to reveal a little bit more green. Okay, so this is the tricky part as you go through once you start taking colors out. And so if I go in and that kind of take some of that scion out a bit and some of that magenta and maybe ramp up a little bit of the yellow there, that may help. But I get that overall dark in that a bit gets really tricky to basically go in and target that to see if I had too much scion. It gets too blue. Take out the magenta needs at certain amount of agenda in there not enough yellow does that black overall and just takes a little bit of work. So let's see what that looks like. One museum out. We have a question. Their video. Somebody asked if they could just enter the value in the curves output box? Sure. Yeah, absolutely. That's the easy way. I want to show you the hard way. So we had zoomed in on that. Okay. And see that difference that that selective color made? It's very slight, very subtle. And it went in. Now, I can tell you that at this point, this takes a little bit of work. Okay, When we zoomed in on there, it didn't look the same. But I've done this once or twice. So when I go in there, I have a fairly good sense of color. I'd like to think and going in and doing that adjustment you can see without that adjustment layer. It just looked a little bit black and ever so slightly green to me. And by taking those out looking at this here Now, with that color swatch on there, we see now it's very deceiving because when you look really close, you're like, Oh, that looks nothing like it. Okay, but also realize that we're looking at this nearly on the cellular level and seeing what this looks like. The average of what we have here is going to be this. So overall, if I were to look at my shirts and those were going to go into a catalogue and be printed at that size there, I would say that because you can't see the color swatches on there that's pretty close. Could you go in there and spend all that time to go in and make sure you've got everything? Absolutely. You certainly could, but it's doing it by the numbers now. Like I said, because these shirts were fairly saturated, I would say where they were a little bit more saturated, you know, They were like in the Midtown, a little bit more saturated. You are gonna have trouble with some of the colors when you go in and try to a color justice. But overall there's all my shirts, and now we have the catalog and I can turn on and turn off my color squares, and you really can't see much difference right there.

Class Description

Stop depending on Photoshop's Match Color feature, and learn how to match any image color, no matter the use case. Learn how to use the hidden features of the eye dropper tool. Use the info panel to fully understand color composition. Apply color adjustments with an eye for preserving the highlights and shadows of the original image, while expertly importing the sample color to your image.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2

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Color Matching in Photoshop

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Janaina de Assis

For me it was easy and simple to understand, easy for an online training. His formula to teach is amazingly fun and energising.


This is a concise course which teaches the concepts of color matching "by the numbers" in a clear and easy-to-follow manner. It was fun to try the techniques I learned in this class on one of my own photographs and the results were not only accurate but quick to achieve.

Emily Bristor

I learned a lot from this course, and Jason Hoppe gives clear instructions and explanations. I'll be looking for more of his courses.