Today I’m going to attempt to teach you guys photo colour correction. This tutorial will only touch on the basics, as the topic of photo editing can take up entire books.
The point of colour correction is to make parts of the photo more coherent. The aim is to make the objects in the photo appear like they belong together in the photo.
Photo Colour Correction Tutorial – Step 1
Download this image from Flickr:
Open this picture up in Photoshop, and try not to stare at her eyes for too long. This image has already been edited and has a nice colour balance already. The red in her face really brings out her pretty blue eyes and the neutral colours in the rest of the photo make it the perfect practice photo for us to experiment on.
Photo Colour Correction Tutorial – Step 2
Photoshop has a lot of preset settings which can be a nice foundation for experimentation and some of them can add a nice effect. However using these presets straight out of the box is a huge amateur mistake. When people see an image edited by preset effects they can tell it was edited by an inexperienced photo editor.
Here are a few Photoshop preset filters and effects that can be a starting point.
Photo Filter Adjustment Layer
The quickest way to add a colour overlay is to add a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer to your image.
Add the Photo Filter adjustment layer to your image and select the filter from the image below to add some warmth to our image.
You’ll notice that our image has an orange glaze applied and gives the image a lot more warmth.
Now we are going to edit the adjustment layer and fix it up a bit. The image below will show you where to paint on the layer mask for the Photo Filter. This will fix the colour, for example the photo filter added a lot of red to her white top that we don’t want, and it added a bit too much red to your face.
The photo is starting to look better, now we want to add a bit more light to the photo and soften the photo. We are going to “bleach” the colour by slightly overexposing the photo. Add a Exposure adjustment layer from the adjustments panel.
Use the settings below and then set the Exposure filter layer to 20% opacity.
Now our image is much brighter, but it is a little too bright towards the bottom of her top. We are going to mask away some of that shine and reduce the overexposure of that area.
Mask out the bottom of the photo where the white top looks too bright.
Photo Colour Correction Tutorial – Step 3
One of the best ways to apply Photo Colour Correction is to use a Curves adjustment layer. Save the image you’ve been working on and now open up the original image again and we are going to colour correct the photo using Curves.
Since there aren’t many hues in this photo the only thing I would really change in this photo is to reduce the amount of red in her face. While I said it really brings out her eyes in the photo I think it’s just a little bit too much. First add a Curves layer to your image (remember we are starting over again with the original image). Use the settings below.
Our photo will now have a lot of blue in it, but that’s fine. If you remember your colour theory, adding blue to areas of red will neutralise the colour. As you experiment more with photo editing you will begin to realise how to apply your knowledge of colour and colour theory to balance out your photos.
We are going to add blue to her face, so mask out the rest and add a little bit of masking to the face so it fits in with the rest of the image and she doesn’t have too much blue on her face.
It is very subtle, but it takes away enough of the pink and redness of the face to make it a bit more balanced.
I hope you guys learnt how to approach photo colour correction. This tutorial is just the absolute basics of image/photo editing, there are lots of books out there that cover this topic in a much greater depth. I hope this tutorial taught you the basics so you can avoid amateur mistakes. At the end of the day, photo editing, much like art is very subjective and is all down to personal preference.
Experiment and find out what effects you like best.