Advanced Selections for Color Theory


Color Theory for Photographers


Lesson Info

Advanced Selections for Color Theory

We're going to do two different things. We're going to talk about the inversion of our image and how when we invert our image and we look at the actual data that's in it, we can invert it to get all of the complementary colors in the image. I don't need to use this right now. And do some really cool things with it. We're also going to talk about how we can selectively break things down. So, these colors are in here. Everything I've talked about right now has been global, all right? So there's different things when it comes to where we get our produce, whether we get it globally or locally. Well, it happens the same way in Photoshop. If we wanted to get really local with this, there's a really cool thing up here called Select, and if you go to Select and you go to Color Range, it's gonna allow you to either sample any color you want, so if I said, you know what, I want to just isolate these yellows, I could hit that, and I would see here that you have what looks like a black and white c...

opy of it. Don't be afraid. What that's saying is that white is the color that I've selected and black are the things that are not selected. It will output a selection for me that I can then make a mask from. The cool thing about this is you get this thing called fuzziness. I don't know why they call it fuzziness, but it's how bright, it's how fuzzy those things get. It's how bright those things get. So, you select that color and then you increase the fuzziness and it starts to fan out a little bit and give you more selection. I guess more selection wouldn't be a cool word, so they called it fuzziness. I think of a Muppet when I hear that. If we go down into the Select and we go to yellows, we can also just select all of those yellows. So now you're thinking, "Okay, where is this going?" Well, if we go down here, we go to our curves adjustment layer, just like we talked about before, we now have isolated all of the yellow in this image into this, what we call a mask. So, this mask is only affecting this curves adjustment layer, and will not affect anything else. So, this is where you get the true potential to be a painter in your images with color and light. So if I were to go ahead and move this down, I can make the overall contrast a little bit darker in those yellows, but I could also come into those RGB channels here, and go into maybe blue, make it more yellow, and boost up the amount of yellow in it by dropping this down, or, if I wanted to correct those yellows, to make them not so powerful, I just add its counterpart to it, make it more blue. And those yellows get less vibrant or more vibrant. What is really cool is that if we go into something like Select and we go to Color Range and we go to our greens, we can isolate our greens. It's gonna give you this thing, we can't select any more than 50%, you're going to think, "Oh, it's not doing anything," but it's actually doing something. It's just not going to show you the little racing ants. We go to curves, and now we have our greens that are isolated, So all those green highlights that are sitting there isolated. We can boost up the amount of highlight that's coming off of those greens, or we can go into those greens and maybe say, "You know what, green, I think you need to be" "a little more on the yellow side," "because I want you to be more yellow" "to match those leaves." This is where we get the ability to push and pull the color within the color. We've got green isolated. Sometimes it's hard to wrap your head around. We've got green isolated, and we're saying, "Green, get more yellow in your midtones." But let's say, you know what, green, don't get more yellow in your shadows, pull that up. Complete control over color. Another really cool thing is that we can look at how we can come into this image here. Here, we were using selective color on it. Watch what happens when we use what's called an inverted layer. This is where I'm getting back to the very beginning of this whole thing, where I said I failed, because when we invert this image, this inverted adjustment layer is taking every color in our image and flipping it over on the color wheel. So imagine all your reds becoming cyan, all your cyans becoming red. It's a complete inversion that's happening with the image. And you go, "Wow, that's awesome, I'm going to post that" "on 500px or Flickr." No, don't do that. What I'm saying is that we can use this information for two very critical things as far as properties are concerned. So, if we come down here, and we change this blend mode to color, what's happening? Our tones are being protected, and that inverted layer is applying itself to our image. So what that means is that all of those reds that have been turned cyan are applying themself to the underlying reds of the image. If we drop this percentage down to 50%, look at what happens, it starts to get more on the gray level. Well, watch what happens if we bring this down to something like 12% or 13%. What we're doing is we're subduing all of the colors in the image with the inverted values of it. And you're thinking, great, that's great that we can do that, why would we do that globally? I'm glad you asked. Because if we come up here and we go to Select and we go to Color Range, and we go to red and press okay, we're now only telling those reds to subdue themselves, and we're doing it with complete control in Photoshop, because now, what's the difference between this and something like Adobe Camera Raw with Lightroom? I can see red. I know what red is now. In those other programs, those other applications, you cannot see red like that. You see a slider that says red, and you have to trust it, that it's modifying your reds. Here, we get complete range over those reds. We know what it is, and if we wanted to modify this mask even further, we could. We could paint on it. We could do a levels adjustment on it to really crunch that down. If I were to come in with this mask selected, go to Adjustments and go to Levels, we can dictate how much of that red is being selected by making that mask a little bit darker or making that mask a little bit brighter, and how much is actually being selected in that. Again, we're in the more advanced level area of things there, but if we were to go ahead and, let me go to my history palette and back up a little bit here, okay, we've got the inverted image there. The other cool thing about this is that there's another blend mode in there that you're never going to use. Nope, not until you see this. It's called subtract. Heck, subtract, what the heck is that doing? What subtract is doing is the opposite of the color blend mode. The color blend mode is applying all of those colors to the image and telling everything to get a little bit more dull. What subtract is doing, and I love this moment, this was like a boom moment for me, and I hope it is for you, because man, this is like the excitement of my life, you can tell. So if I bring this down to something like 25%, look at the before and look at the after. It's boosting all the colors. But you're like, oh, interesting, Blake. What's happening here is it's taking, and this is the part that's phenomenal, it's taking the red and it's saying, "Okay, red, what's holding you back?" "What's holding you back?" It's that inverted color that's holding it back. It's the amount of cyan that's actually present in that red, and because it said to subtract, the math that's happening there is it's subtracting those colors of cyan from the red to give you the most natural saturation boost, along with a tonal correction, because there's also white and value in that image as well. So when you set that to invert and you set that over to the subtract blend mode, it's like, "All right, blue, what's holding you back" "from being a beautiful blue sky?" Yellow. Let's just take it out. How would we do that any other way? Because we don't know what value of yellow that's in there unless we do something like the subtract blend mode. All of this happens from experimentation. All of this happens from experimentation with the color wheel, it happens from experimentation with color theory, and at this point, you've seen that we can do this for very technical things like color correction, or we can do it for very exaggerative things, like when we get into the gradients and the gradient maps. So that concludes what I have to teach you. Do you have any questions? Okay, so I understand that when you're going from the artist's color wheel to the digital, you have to wrap your head around the new colors for specifically technical reasons, but when you're thinking about composition and emotive responses, do you stick to the artist's one? I was really, did you set her up for this? (laughs) I've lost sleep over this, okay? Because it's an input process output. I didn't really want to teach you that, because it's like... Okay, so the input is, you have this idea of a composition of colors that you want, with that color palette being blues and oranges, right? Well, if you try to bring that into Photoshop and you invert that, your blues are not going to be orange. Your blues are going to be yellow. So the input is the idea that you have for the color palette that you want, the process is the digital color wheel to output to the painter's color wheel. So it's not like, hey, throw this information away. It's, just put it aside, just so that you can learn this digital stuff, but understand that this is a whole other category in and of itself. So to get those nice cohesive harmony is what we're looking for. Is cyan and red harmonious? Would you ever wear cyan leggings with a red shirt? I usually just wear black. Okay, perfect. Like, perfect, I get it. Yeah, exactly, so no, you wouldn't, you need to wear your greens and your reds, so you're absolutely right, you still have to remember that, but it doesn't help when you're in the editing process. In the editing process, you have to flip the other switch. If you go to this website right here,, and you get on the email list, everything I do, I kind of funnel through that. So that's my form of getting all of my information out to you, so that's the best place. is my website, and that is a great place to get signed up and get connected, and I am very responsive of my email. Anything that comes in goes out.

Class Description

Color Theory is often referred to as "Painter's Knowledge." However, the truth is that having a strong foundation in Color Theory as a photographer can make a world of difference in your finishing effects and help you define your artistic style. Post processing expert Blake Rudis walks through Color Theory from the basics to the practical application so that you can improve your photography, post processing techniques, and style.


Cheryl Tarr

Blake shares some very interesting concepts and tricks which I hope to learn how to use. As a beginner who is still struggling with Photoshop, it went too fast but it is a short class where he covered a lot of ground. I will need some more basic understanding of Photoshop and then I want to watch this again to get a better grip on the tricks he showed. I can see where learning the material in this class will improve my processing workflow and help me bring to fruition the vision I have in my head for where I want an image to end up. Thank you!


Mind blown in this short class! MORE, MORE, MORE...I'm going to go find his other classes right now. He does go pretty quick but the tidbits of amazing tricks using curves and gradients are amazing!


I really enjoyed Blake’s class. He is very clear and concise and I found it very helpful to learn a bit more about colour interaction and how to play with it. I would also like to know how to add the zone chart.. many thanks!