Color Match: Curves
Alright so here's where we're gonna talk about often challenges we have where clients will supply an image, any kind of image: a stock image, a poster, or something they found, a childhood photo, whatever and they say, "Hey, we'd like this image on camera right "to have the same vibe or feel "of the image on the left-hand side." It can be really challenging, especially when the tone and the contrast is so different and the color scheme is so off. This is a technique that is a little scientific and logistically heavy, but so well-worth the process because what it's gonna do, it's gonna separate this into value and color and have you look at the image a little differently and hopefully help you arrive to the result you're looking for. So I'm gonna walk you through kind of slowly. Take some notes, breathe. We'll do this together. Let's just be perfectly clear: the image on camera left is the image we are wanting the color to be, the hero color we like. The image on the right, the cowboy-i...
sh is what we're gonna change to match. So the first step to do is make a color layer. Make a regular solid color layer. We talked about this at the beginning of the course. You want to make sure it's 50% gray. It's at 128 red, 128 green, 128 blue, solid gray. You're gonna put that on color mode. So these are two things we've already talked about before. We talked about solid color and we talked about layer mode. Okay, so this is easy peasy, lemon squeeze-y. What this allows you to do is to look at this piece and not look at the color of it, but just look at the tone. So at this point, I would make a correction and I would call this number one and I'd call it luminosity or tone, whatever word speaks to contrast for you. I like to do it in curves because we have all those adjustments. So this is the adjustment I had made and let me show it to you. Basically, what I was looking at was I was looking at the mid-tones down here, the three-quarter tones and the mid-tones. I need to bring them out. I did not want to take the three-quarter shadows out because it needs to have some kind of contrast. So basically the move, this is what it was before, is something around here. You can really fine tune this to whatever you need. The great thing about this process is as you work through it, we're doing the tone first, then we're gonna do the color, you can keep going back. So let's say you didn't quite get the tone right. No big deal. Go back, open up the curve again, and you can redo it. So I'm gonna say that that's okay. Let's go back to your layers palette. Excuse me. Just close that. Where are layers? Here they are down here. Alright. So the next step. These are the steps that I really want you to pay attention to. First, the curves and colors you're gonna put on top to manipulate both images so that you can do your correction. So the first step is color. It's 50% gray and it's on the mode called color. Once you have done that, you turn that off and then you do a 50% gray. The same 50% gray, exact same, only now you're gonna put that on the mode called luminosity. Normal. Color. That's what we just did. Now, it's luminosity. Do you see what it does here, you guys? It actually takes the color and the tone and separates them so all we are looking at is color. That is it. Why do you do this? You do this so you're not confused by the contrast. I don't want to be confused. I just want to look at the color. So the color curve. The color curve on this one was pretty wacky, I'm gonna tell you, and on a workflow method, I'm gonna suggest you number them. First step was luminosity. Second step is gonna be color and number it color. As you can see by my icon, I'm a curve gal. I like my curves. I use them for almost everything. I'm gonna show you what the curve is. I'm gonna take this out. I think I can reproduce it. Make sure you're on the curve and let's reset it. So you go to the colors. This is where you kind of have to start managing your windows a little bit 'cause you got to move things out of the way. Like my papers I need to move out of my way. Alright. So I need to take some of the red out. The primary color that you're gonna see is this yellow. Do you see how blue it is on the camera right and yellow on camera left? So you know your blues are gonna have to come way down. Do you see that? The blues come way down. Now, I'm starting to get into the ballpark. It feels a little bit green to me. Do you guys see that green? So that looks green to me compared to this. The file I want to change looks a little green to the file I want it to be. So now I'm gonna bring the greens down in the highlights. Do you see already that this conversation has changed? Like I'm just looking at color, so the shadows where this can be a little challenging is I've got shadows over here, but the shadows are on the side here. The shadows look a little cyan to me, so I think on the red I probably moved it too much. I'm gonna move it back. I'm not sure on your guy's screen, those of you viewing at home if you can see that, but the area I was looking at was the shadow area right here. I'm gonna take a look. You know, I'm gonna say, "Wait." I'm gonna give this a go. I'm gonna see if I'm getting close. The nice thing about this process is you can go back and forth 110 times 'cause it's all adjustment layers. So to see how I'm looking so far, I need to turn off the adjustment layers. Come on, that's pretty darn close. How did I get there? I got there because I wasn't looking at the whole file and getting confused. I was looking at individual sections. So when you look at your file... Those of you following at home, let me see. I'm gonna make this window a little smaller. I'm gonna suggest for those of you watching at home, take a screen capture of that right now. Okay, take a screen capture of that right now. What you have is below this is my sample. Below that are my adjustments that I'm using on my hero image. Above that, these adjustments here are what I need to turn on in order to make my corrections. I've got one more correction to show you, but I just want you to see how the file is constructed. Please, if you're at home doing this and your head hurts, you are not alone. I've been doing this a really long time and every time I do this, I'm still like, "Alright, what do I need to do here? "Okay, I'm trying to do this." So don't feel bad if you're trying to do that. The next step which is step three which is the saturation step. This one I find not as imperative, but I feel I need to tell you about it. Saturation I feel like I can do with my own eye fairly comfortably, but it's a really good step to take. Again, I want to stress, it'll be on the handout. Saturation, to do step number three, you use selective color and how you want to set it is the colors red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta. The colors. You need to swing the black all the way to -100. Okay, let me repeat that. The red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta. You want to slide the blacks into each one of those down to -100. The white, neutral, and black. The white, neutral, and black, you do the exact opposite. You swing all the way plus 100. It's okay, don't freak out. You've got this. White, neutral, blacks. The blacks go to 100. Colors: magenta, blue, cyan, blah blah blah, the blacks go all the way to -100. What that does is allows you to have saturation. So now I'm gonna do the saturation move I did. Saturation is hue saturation. You can see do I need to saturate my image or de-saturate my image? Here is how you know the difference. You're still with me. Take a quick screen capture, folks at home. When the image is more saturated, you get a solarization in the highlights. Do you see that? When the image is less saturated, you get a darkening of the highlights. More saturated, solarization. Less saturated, it gets darker. What you're doing at this point is you're looking at the image next to it and that's a very low-res image next to it and that's what your client will give you, I assure you. You will get a low-res image you have to match to. So this, step three, is definitely the most (groans) wiggly I would say, out of all of 'em. You just want to see if you can make the saturation get a little closer. In general, if you see this high key, you know you have too much saturation. That high solarization. That's basically all you're doing. So I have a very gentle saturation move. I am now gonna turn off that selective color and I'm gonna look at my result. Here's before and after. I personally think this is absolutely a viable sample to give to a client and say, "Hey, what do you think?" As far as you guys might want to consider for working, that levels move you don't need. That levels move you don't need. Let me repeat that. You're gonna have a luminosity is step one. Luminosity is step one. Let me repeat what it is. Excuse me, I totally just lied there. Luminosity is step two. Sorry. Color is step one. Selective color for saturation is step three. The color is a solid color layer. The color 50% gray, 128, 128, 128. It is on the mode called color. That is why I call it color. Please do not get confused. I have a solid color on the mode called color and what it's helping me figure out is my black and white values. No, I wish it was the same word. It's not the same word. Please do not get confused. Number one is set on the mode called color, but it's to find black and white value. Okay, don't let it confuse you. This is a great method. The second step. The second step is gonna be that same gray scale color. If you're feeling brave you can use the same layer and just switch the mode, but I'd suggest you do it this way so you know step one, step two. That is on the mode called luminosity and that is to help you figure out color. Okay. The third step is the selective color and it's on that weirdo, wacky setting which is all the colors are zeroed out at black and the white, neutral, and blacks are all put to 100% black. Your corrections, just to repeat the corrections how I do it. You do not need to do it this way. I just want to stress this is my way of color correcting. I did the value first. I still used a curve, but I did value first. Okay. The second step I did was I did the color. Again, I used a curve because I like to do a curve. You could do the value with levels and do your curve with something else, I mean, your color with something else. I'm gonna recommend the curves 'cause you have the most mobility, but on the black and white, you could use levels. Then, the hue saturation for step number three. I just use the hue saturation. It's pretty standard. So please feel free to take a screen capture of what you see right here. I'll take that little logo off here. This is hard. Let's say the truth. This is hard. This is a hard process to do. It's very kind of mechanical and it's not fluid, but once you get this down and you allow yourself to just kind of zen out and go, "Okay, I need to match color," I think you'll have a really good time with this. I do want to show one other trick about this. When you are trying to match in particular the color, I will often grab a piece of the match to file, command+J, and I will stick it over here next to the item I'm trying to match because then when I go to that color section, it's a little easier for me to see if I need to make an adjustment. I probably would make an adjustment here. I'm just trying to give you some tips to kind of walk you through. What it feels like to me is that maybe the mid-tones need to come up just a hair. Maybe. Maybe. It's a little challenging, but I got to tell you, I wouldn't have been able to get this close before. Can I make another suggestion? When you're doing color moves, God, be brave. Pull it all the way down. Pull it all the way up and then start looking at it again and pulling things down, pulling colors down. Move you palettes around. 'Cause you see I want some magenta. You can see that magenta right in here. So don't be afraid to do broad moves. Okay, cool. Again, a little hairy carry crazy, but definitely in the ballpark, right. It needs a little more cyan. It's a little too red, but alright.