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Blend if and Color Grading


The Absolute Power of Blend If


Lesson Info

Blend if and Color Grading

When it comes to color grading, this is a portrait that I took of him in my studio for a headshot, and as a headshot it's probably good. I'd probably leave it at that. We did a series of images. But, if I want to take this into a more artsy type of realm, or into a more like, I don't know, fine art type portrait rather than just being, "Hey, this is me." Because, you don't see me color graded when I walk around. That'd be cool if we did, I'd probably choose like a dark, cyan color, that's one of my favorites. But, we can choose that when we get into the fine art realm of things. There's a plethora of ways that you can color grade and one of my favorite ways to color grade is actually by using something called the gradient map. The gradient map is kind of like a Blend If, so to speak, it kind of thinks about things in terms of zero to 255. So, when I tell this thing to be a gradient map, it's saying, "Okay, anything that's the darkest dark pixels in this image, you want me to turn black...

. And anything that's the lightest pixels in this image, you want me to turn white." That's what the gradient map is doing. This, just as another aside, my absolute favorite way of black and white converting. Because it makes true black and white conversions. Navy or blue, let's say, is a dark color on the color wheel. If you do a desaturation method of black and white conversion, guess what. Your blue just turns to gray. But this, your blue will be a darker color. Or your yellow will be a light color. So, this is awesome. It maps out your colors and turns them into tones. If we choose black and white. But if we go really wild and we click on here, and I suggest you make a bunch of gradients if you don't have them. This is saying, "Okay, you want me to turn your darkest dark colors a purplish magenta. And your lightest light colors this kind of baby blue color." You may not be able to see it very well, with this color scheme, but how about this one? (makes a cringing noise) You want the darkest dark colors, because you're crazy, to be blue, and the lightest light colors to be magenta. That's why we no longer have a black and white look, we're telling white to become magenta. We're telling black to become blue. And it's taking on a whole new mind of its own. Now, I also challenge you on top of using Blend If and everything that you do. Use disgusting gradient maps. Okay. Try it, okay? You can just go, "Oh, I'll just do it. I'm going to be brave and use this one." Press OK. And I'm going to go right here where it says normal and change this to soft light and see what happens. You start to get a pretty nice looking color scheme. But then we also have opacity, so we can drop that opacity down. Okay. And if I were to double-click on the gradient map, guess what it has in it. If you haven't realized by now, it's got a Blend If in it. We'll double-click on that gradient map. If we turn our color overlay on, we can see what's happening. Because we dropped the opacity, that color overlay is not going to be as powerful as it could be. Let's go to our blending options and let's say I only want this to affect the dark areas on this portrait. So, I'll drop this down and say those highlights will no longer get that pink look on you, sorry, I, maybe you enjoy it. And we'll press OK. Turn that color overlay off, look at the difference. But the cool thing about this, you click on that gradient map. Now I can change it to any gradient map I want. And get a different look on this photograph. Look at that, look at that one, that's like, "Whoa! That looks good man. You actually look a lot better than you do in real life." (laughs) He is definitely not watching this, I know that. But you know, when we think about color grading, to me, color grading is the most important step in the image. It's what happens at the end. Okay. And you want to pick-- you gotta be careful about color grading, and I would suggest being in the mood that you want the viewer to be in when you color grade. Ooh. So, have you ever thought about editing when you're mad? Typically we don't, because that's not something we want to do. But if you want the viewer to be mad while they're looking at it, be mad while you're editing. Because then when they see it, they're like, "Ooh, this makes me really uncomfortable." Because you're putting yourself into it, right? You're putting your mood, you're putting your emotions into that photograph as you edit that image. So, with this image in mind, how do I want the viewer to feel when they see my cousin? Do I want them to feel like, that manly cold? Or do I want them to feel more of like, that pink tutu type feeling? (audience laughs) Let's go with that. (laughs) But it still looks like a pretty good image, right? The color grading is still nice. But color grading ties everything together. It takes what you do to the highlights, it takes what you do to the mid-tones, it takes what you do to the shadows throughout your whole editing process and it ties them together in a nice little bow with a color on it. And that color is typically what you want them to feel when they see it. Like I said before, this is just, you know, maybe a good, not really color grade, my wall is actually that color, so that's why that color is coming through, I didn't do any color grading to this when I was editing this image. But then when I add that color to it, it gets that mood, it gets that feel, it starts to bring things about. Again, think about it this way. Anything that changes underneath there the color is going to change on there as well, okay? So, if we have that gradient map on there, as things get lighter or darker, I just used a different color so you could see it a little bit better. The grading is going to change. So, this gradient map was set to red to cyan. So, a complementary color. If we bring this down, the whole image is getting darker. So, because the whole image is getting darker, more of that red is coming through. So, it's really cool to use color grading at the end, because then there's those times where we're like, "Oh, this looks good, but what if I went all the way back down to this layer and changed it?" Well, if you just use a stamp at the top and didn't use any Blend If, you're stuck. But here's the cool part. If you use that color grade on the top, anything that you do underneath, or anything you have to go back and do, it's going to fluctuate as it needs to, like liquid. And it's just going to go with the flow. Just like you. Okay?

Class Description

Hidden deep within the Layers Styles panel is Blend if, one of the hidden gems of Photoshop®’s tools. Blend if sliders allow you to blend images together to achieve more natural, creative and impactful results. In this course, Blake Rudis will show you how to unleash the power of Blend if in a multitude of ways, from noise reduction to sharpening to color grading. By the end, you’ll realize there’s almost nothing you can’t do with this multifaceted feature.