Soft Contrast & Antique Color in Photoshop
Often times with my images, I end up creating a soft look that gives a lot of contrast to something, and I want to show you how that could be done. When I do this effect, you will find that the, um the fact is too strong when I'm done it's always so strong, I want it to be too strong because then I can dial it down and control it. If it was already at a strength that was somewhat appropriate, it would be difficult to increase it, so I wanted to be a little bit too strong to begin with. So what I'm going to do here is I'm actually going to duplicate this layer twice, and I used the keyboard shortcut of command, jay, I think of it is jumping to a new layer, so I'm just going to type that twice I'd be controlled. Jay and windows, so command j command jay got two of them now when lined up doing this, the colors in the image usually shift, and to prevent the colors from shifting, I'm going to take that top version of the image and I'm going to change the blending mode to color, and that mea...
ns the color and we end up with in this picture is going to come from the top layer. So the colors in the image aren't going to be able to shift. If I didn't have that top layer set the color, the colors would become too vivid and wouldn't look right because of what's going to happen on this middle there a middle layer? What I want to do is I'm going to change its mode to a choice called overlay and that's going to give this image a lot of contrast, but I want this to be soft contrast where it makes the image field nice and soft and to do so I'm going to soften it, but I'm not going to do it with the normal blur filter you could, and it would look okay, but instead I'm going to go to the noise menu and there's a choice, and they're called median and with that, I'm going to bring this up until all the fine detail is gone, but I can still recognize shapes, so you still want to be able to recognize that there's a leg there and, uh, you know things, but I don't don't want it to become just us all a blob like that and that's giving me this really soft contrast he look, then I can just take that middle layer in lower the opacity of it to control how strong this effect is, how much additional contrast and softness that I want but that's what I call soft contrast, and I apply that to a lot of my images, and people often ask, you know, how do you get this certain look of my image? Well, that's one of the ways if I didn't have the top layer and they're set to color, if I turn it off, the image would be way too colorful. So the colors air coming from that copy that sitting on top the contrast is being added by the middle layer. The one that's had median applied and it's an overlay mode in varying the opacity of it will control the strength. Now, let's do another, uh, effect that I commonly do. This is one where I want the colors to look more muted and it's what I call antique color so it's just a kind of feeling of antique e um what I'm going to first do us, paul the color out of the image, and I'll do that by doing a black and white adjustment layer and feel free to find tune this by clicking on your image and dragging to find tune the brightness of various areas. For now, I'm not going to be overly picky with ah the results there but if this was an image that I really wanted to look good I would be more concerned with what the black and white looks like the main thing is we use a black and white adjustment layer to pull all the color out now we're going to end up putting in the color again and I don't want to paint it in I want the color to be based on the original so let's work on original layer let's duplicate it with a command jay and let's put it on top then I'm gonna change the blending mode of the top of my layers panel to a choice called overlay and when I do some color will come back into the image but I want to blur that layer to soften it so I'm gonna go to the blur sub menu and choose gazi and blur and I'm going to bring this up again until fine detail is gone but I can still recognize shapes and you can get it nice and soft if you want to look ok then I find that this always makes the shadows too dark and in this image since there's a lot of dark stuff in it the whole image is way too dark to get some of that brightness back I'm going to go down to the letters fx and choose blending options we use this once before today the beginning of this session I believe we ended up pulling in this slider to hide the dark parts of a layer that's what we're going to do here, what I'm going to do is actually split the slider in half by holding down the option key alta windows and grabbing the right edge pointed over and as I do, I should seymour amore shadow detail returned to the image if you need to, you can bring in the far left edge as well, but most the time I leave it pretty close to the end then just like with the previous technique, this one is always too strong when I'm done and I like that it's too strong because then I can dial it down and back up and really get it where I wanted to be. The problem is that the effect is made out of two layers, not just one and so I need to do something where I can lessen the effect of more than one layer at a time, so I'm going to select both of these layers that make up the effect and I could then adjust the opacity right now to affect both of those layers. But I just find it to be a cleaner look overall if I throw him in a folder so I'll throw him in a folder and then I'll adjust the opacity of the folder I'll bring it all the way down to zero and I slowly bring it up in the higher I bring it, the more I get that muted, uh, color look, that can give it kind of an antique e field and oftentimes they'll end up applying both this effect and the previous one called soft contrast to an image in the two. Put together, khun give it a little bit of a kind of nostalgic feeling to an image. If you ever see any of my finished images of gas stations, I have a boat load of them of vintage gas stations. They almost all of them have had that done to them and, uh, that's what gives them part of the overall look that they have? So what we have here, we have one layer that takes all the color out of the image to begin with. Then we take the color of the original image up here we soften it, so the transitions between the colors will be softer, because if you want an antique kind of look to it, things used to be hand colorized and they wouldn't be perfectly crisp on the edge where one color ends in the next color begins blurring. It gives us some of that, and using the mode called overlay ends up making it so the color is not applied in a straightforward, blatant way so we can get a more muted color palette which I find to be nice. The combination of that, and the soft contrast, can give image or rather nostalgic feeling.