Color Matching in Photoshop
Hello again Commotion Art family! I have been deep in a large color matching project lately that’s going to continue for a while, so I thought I would share a few tips on the subject.
As with other topics I’ve covered, I’ll include common mistakes that I see and offer solutions.
Highlights & Shadows
Before diving into the fine-tuning aspect of color matching, it’s important to be sure you define your darkest and lightest points within the photograph. This can easily be accomplished with the eyedropper inside the Curves tool panel.
Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Curves and select the black eyedropper to define the blacks in your image.
Checking your Info tool palette as you mouse over the file in Photoshop will help you find the spot with the most black. Sometimes a combination of black and other colors will be your darkest spot.
Once you find the right area and click on it.
Then, select the white eyedropper and do the same for the lightest point in your image.
You’ll notice with these simple adjustments that most photographs will have richer color and much better contrast.
Isolate to Correct
Now that your image is looking more crisp overall, it’s time to start fine-tuning specific areas.
If you are working with commercial product photography, color correctness will be crucial.
A common mistake I see is adjusting the color or brightness of an entire image. A much better approach is adjusting specific areas that need tweaking.
Maybe you have an area of red that needs to be brighter. So, you decide to punch up the brightness of the entire image.
The problem with this approach is that while your red may now be the correct color, the rest of your image has been thrown off.
The solution is to isolate the area you need to adjust.
There are several ways, one of the best tools is under Select -> Color Range. This tool does just what it sounds like. It allows you to select a specific color and has settings for sensitivity so you can include more or less of a range.
Once you have the area of the image selected that you would like to adjust, it’s a good idea to copy and paste it to a new layer. Making permanent changes to the original image is a bad idea — it prevents you from making future edits.
It’s also a good idea to save your selection incase you need it later, this can be accomplished under Select -> Save Selection.
A very powerful tool inside Photoshop is the Match Color tool under Image -> Adjustments.
This allows color matching from one file to another, or one layer to another.
The source image should have the correct color that you want to achieve, while the target image will be the one that needs work.
With both files open and set to RGB, select an area in the target image with the desired color. Then, go to the target image and select the area and layer that you want to correct.
Open the Match Color tool, and under Source select the source image that you would like to sample from. If that image is layered, you’ll need to specify which layer to pull from.
The result should be close to the original, but if needed you can adjust the Luminance, Color Intensity and Fade. I usually have a sample swatch from the color corrected image overlaying my adjustment image for comparison.
Photoshop is a huge program, and there are several ways to accomplish any task. This is a great way to match colors from image to image, but may not work for everything.
I have over 18 years of experience with image retouching and editing. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have when adjusting your photographs, just ask!
Contact Commotion Art today for help with your color matching project!