Match The Colour And Tone Of Any Photo With Three Simple Adjustments

The right colour balance, contrast and saturation can make a decent image look amazing, but how do you get the look that you want? If you have a style you want to emulate, three simple adjustments can help you achieve it quickly.

Note: For those of you without Photoshop, you can still implement this tip if your image editor offers layers, layer blending modes, masking, and Curves for colour correction.

As the video above demonstrates, you can match an image's style pretty easily with three masks. Just put them side by side and do the following.

  • Luminosity: Create a 50% grey layer above both images and set its blending mode to Colour. Next, create an adjustment layer for the photo you want to adjust and experiment with curves until you get matching contrast. To do this, you'll want to pay attention to the histogram of each image and try to make them look the same. This is pretty easy if you know how to use curves. If not, check out our Photoshop night school course for some help.
  • Colour Balance: Change the 50% grey layer's blending mode to Luminosity. This gives you a colour map of your images and you can see very easily where your colours are lacking (or overabundant). Create a Curves adjustment layer for the image you want to adjust and select the colour (Red/Blue/Green) that you need more of in your image. Adjust the curve to bring more in if you need more of a colour or lower it to remove it and bring in the other colours. This will take a bit of practice if you're new to balance colour this way, but knowing the basics of colour helps . Be sure to watch the video above for a demonstration if you need one.
  • Saturation: Create a Selected Colour adjustment layer at the top of all your layers, then set the black saturation point of all colours to -100% and the white saturation point of all colours to +100%. (Ensure you're doing this in absolute mode and not relative mode.) This will create a saturation mask and you can quickly tell which image is more or less saturated. From there, you can create a saturation adjustment layer for the image you're working on and dial it up or down until you see a visual match.

This all might sound a bit complex, but it's actually quite easy. Once you get the hang of using these adjustment tools in Photoshop (or your favourite comparable image editor), you can perform these tasks in about a minute. If your Photoshop knowledge is lacking, be sure to check out our night school course to learn more.

Match tone and colour in Photoshop [computerarts on YouTube via PetaPixel]


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