On this tutorial I will show you how you my technique for color grading an image in Photoshop and match the colors of another photo.
If you paid attention when watching a movie you will see that all major productions use certain color casts which makes them more recognizable. A clear example is “The Matrix” which has a green color cast in most of the scenes. That color cast is called color grading and in this tutorial I will show you the technique I use when color grading in Photoshop.
In order to make this kind of editing job, we need a reference image which we will use to emulate the colors. I used a screenshot of a random move (just googled move screenshot). It’s important that the photo you want to color grade it’s similar to the reference image in terms of lighting.
Reference image analysis
Before starting color grading the image, you have to analyse your reference image and see what colors dominate on the image and analyse the highlights and shadows. You can use the Curves Adjustment Layer and the Hand Tool to move across your reference image and see what tone corresponds to which area on the Histogram.
The Eyedropper Tool is very helpful too because you can sample colors from the reference image and see what tones you have on your shadows and highlights.
Once you identify the colors on your reference image, make adjustments on the curves on each channels and try to match the colors of the reference. For this you have to understand how the Curves work in order to know how each adjustment affects the photo.
The Selective Color adjustment layer can be really helpful to fine tune the colors of your image because it allows you to change the color cast of all individual colors of you image. For example if you want your yellows to have a cyan and green cast on them you can use this adjustment layer.
For the final touch you can use a Photo Filter adjustment layer with the predominant color of you reference image. In my case I used a green photo filter because the man was lacking green tones on the skin and I couldn’t add it with the Curves without affecting the rest of the tones.
I’ve set this adjustment layer on Soft Light which gave me the color I wanted but increased the contrast too much. So I used the RGB curve to recover the contrast I had prior to using the the Photo Filter.
Color grading in Photoshop step by step
How to match colors in Photoshop using adjustment layers
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