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  1. we're going to be talking about creating the cinematic effect using color grading techniques in Photoshop. Usually, the term color grading is reserved for a film but these days, a lot of people are using that term for photographs as well. You might have also heard it referred to as creative color correction and that's what we're going to be doing today. We're going to take this image and create a look of a summer blockbuster. But before we get started, we're going to talk about the differences between color correction and color grading because they're very important to this process. And to explain it a little bit, we're going to click over just for a minute on to this file that I created and as you can see, this is the color wheel. We're going to talk about it in a moment. But before we do, I want to show you some still images, so you can see the effect that we're going for. This is the still of the Terminator Genisys and as you can see, this is the movie look that you might be familiar with. And just to point out, the color scheme that a lot of these films have is Teal tint in the shadows and orange color in the highlights mostly in the skin tones. It is because they're complimentary colors. And as you know, when complementary colors are put side by side, they pop and they standout. In this case, they make theafterstandout. That's one of the reasons why that particular color scheme is used for movies. the story that you're trying to convey by adding this color grade. This another image dark areas and the lights especially the skins do not have that Blue tone. Here's another still frame with The Matrix and this is a little more exaggerated. The skin stones actually do have some of that Green tint but as you can see in the shadows, the Green is really noticeable. And this still is from Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles and as you can see, it's the same color screen. Teal in the dark and Orange the light. This is the reason why we have the color wheel earlier. The Yellows, Oranges, Reds, and Magentasare usually where you find the skin colors and the opposite of what are the Greens, Teals, Cyans, and Blues. If you don't have a color wheel, I'm going to show you a little trick. You can go to the color. adobe. com and you get this color wheel here. You can click in complimentary and if you find a color that is similar to a skin tone and I'm just going to find one here really really quick, I may not be too exact on this but I mean what this said that this color here is the color of the skin. You'll notice that the opposite color is theCyan color. And no matter what may be when that thinks of your skin tone then we haveGreen. And if we move over in, you know, this color would be a skin tone, so as you can see the cool colors are all in the opposite end of the color wheel when it comes to skin tones and they're complementary, which is why color is used this color scheme for the movies. So, we're going to try to do in Photoshop is replicate that effect. Now, how does this related to color correction? If you're going to apply the color grade to an image, it is a good idea to have an image that has neutral grace. That means there's no color cast on the image that you're going to working with. Now, this is a color correction blog. If you would like to get a clipping path service you can contact them. color correction and color matching with curves and type in the search bar, you'll get this blog where I talk about color correction and color matching for about 30 minutes. But just in case that you don't know how to do color correction, we're just going to do a really quick color correction on this image. And if we're going to color grade this image, we will first need to remove the Green colorcast and one of the easiest ways of removing the Green colorcast is with the Curve Adjustment Layers, so I just created our Curves Adjustment Layer on top of that and if I click on this icon hereon this Eye Dropper, I can set the dark point on my image. If I click on this handle here and hold Alt, Option on the Mac and drag, you see how the image just gets its weird color, so you see Cyans, and Greens, and Yellows but I keep dragging to the right, at some point, you'll see where the image starts showing Black, and those should be the dark points of my image and that's where I want to click, so come along on the left wheel, so I'm just going to click on that and that's it the Black point and notice right away, how much better my image looks, and I'm going to do the same thing for the White points. So, I'm going to click under White Point Eye Dropper, hold Alt, Option on the Mac, click and drag on this. I'm going to click and drag this to the left and wherever I see my image turnsWhite, that's where my lightest point is going to be and I gotta be careful not a specular highlight. I want it to be a White that does have some detail and in this case, it's probably around here, so I'm just going to click there for now. And now, I'm going to click on wherever I think may create point should be. Anything on my image that I think should be neutral gray, so it could even be this White here, so I'm just going to click on there and this should probably pretty neutral. And one way to tell if your image has a colorcast or not is by grabbing the Eye Dropper tool, click on the Info panel and go in over an area that should be a neutral gray. So in this case, if you see here, right over here, there's going to be two numbers. The numbers in the left represent the numbers before the Adjustment Layer and the numbers on the right are going to be the numbers that represent the image with the Adjustment Layer applied to it. So if we hover over the White, you'll see that it's Red of 164, Green of 162, and blue of 163 and that is pretty neutral and I could tell that there is no colorcast on the image. Now, there is a slight color cast here on the shadows and we can fix that by going into the Curves if you want it to but that's not the point of this blog. So for the most part, this is a good image to work with. It's a lot better than what we started with. Now one thing before we get going, one way that you can tell if an image has a colorcast is what I just showed you and just to emphasize that point, I'm just going to show you how that works. If we have a neutral image, notice the RGB numbers here and I'm just going torid of this Adjustment Layer, so we see one set of numbers when we hover over the gradient here. Notice that Reds, Greens, and Blues have exactly the same numbers in this area here. That means that there is no colorcast. Now, I'm going to hover over this image here. Notice that in this case, the number where I hover on this gradient on the left side, the Red is always higher. That means that there is a Red colorcast on this gradient and with this gradient on the right side, we have something similar but in this case, the Blue is highest, so therefore there is a Blue color tone to the image or it could be Green or a combination of two colors. But if you want it to be a neutral gray, the numbers are going to be identical or as close to identical as possible. Sometimes that's not possible depending on your image. But anyway, now we're going to get into the color grading of our image. And just to remind you, what we're going to do is we're going to have the Teal in the darks and the Oranges in the light areas especially in the skin tone source that gets pops out of the image and it creates the cinematic effect that we're used in seeing in a lot of movies. So, you might want to take a look at that if that's something that you're interested in. But anyway, so how do we color grade an image in Photoshop? As I mentioned before, one of the things I recommend you do is to color correct your image. As you can see, there's a lot of neutral grades on this image. If I hover, for example, on this pillar, you'llsee that the Red, Green, and Blues are actually very very close or 89, 88, and 88. If I hover over in his suit, maybe in this area, 63, 60, and 66, so still pretty close and that close as there in this color but overall, this image does not have a colorcast, so that where I'm going to start with. What I'm going to do first is create a Curves adjustment layer. I'm also going to delete the layer mask just to keep things cleaner and you can see what's going on. I want to rename this curve Color because this is going to affect the color and I'm going to create one more curve and this one is going to affect the Luminosity, the luminance values of the image. I'm also going to delete Layer Mask and I'm just going to rename this Luminosity. So now, I have two Curves, Color and Luminosity. And we're going to start with Luminosity at the bottom, so the Color Curve AdjustmentLayer is top and Luminosity at the bottom. I'm going to click on this little Eye icon to disable it. Even though I haven't made any changes, I just want to disable it, so we know that we're working only with the Luminosity. Now, why that I name this Luminosity? It is to remind us of what this layer is going to control and this going to control how dark or how light the pixels in our image are. So you'll notice that if I create, for example, an S-curve, it darkens the image. I'm actually going to make this an extreme case, so you can see what happens. So, the image is darker and lighter and the lighter ear is creating higher contrast. If I zoom in into the image and I'm zooming in by holding Alt and using the mouse wheel, does Option and mouse wheel on the Mac. Now, one downside of doing the curves in a normal blend mode is that it also affects the colors of the image. But if I only want it to affect the lightness values, I can choose some blend too in Luminosityand notice what happens. The image is still dark but the colors are not affected. It just makes some darker without increasing the saturation of the image, so that's what we're going todo. The Curves Layer that controls the Luminosity, we're going to change the blend mode to Luminosity and I'm going to disable this for now. And for the Color, you've probably guessed that already. We start changing the different Alpha channels and increase the Red. We don't want the Luminance Values to be affected, so we're going to change that into color and you'llnotice what happened there, they're normal. You see how the image was lightened because dragged this up. It lightens the colors but I don't want the colors to be lighter. I just want to add the color, so change that to color and the Luminance Values stay but the colors go up which is what I want. So, I'm just going to click and drag on that point and drag it out, just so I have a straight line again and then I want to bring it back here just for now. So, I want to disable the layer just by clicking on the Eye icon and I want to enable the Luminosity Layer and that's what we're going to be working with. And I'm going to click and drag this out and that's where we going to start with a clear luminosity Adjustment Layer. So, the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to, first of all, zoom out and we're going to look out at our image and what I want to do is I want to increase the contrast and make the background much much darker like so. And by the way, I don't want you to try to duplicate exactly what I'm doing in terms of the inputs and outputs and try to get the exact curves and numbers because for your image, it may be different and in fact, it will be. All images are different. So, just look at generally at what I do and try to tweak it, so it matches your image. For example, on this image here, most of the data is on the dark pixels as you can see and this is what the graph is showing us. You may have an image where the data is in the lighter pixels or in the mid-tones all across spectrums. So if you duplicate exactly what I do to the curve, it may affect your image differently, so keep that in mind. By the way, you can download this file, and follow along with this file once, and then apply to your own projects but, you know, this file is available for you to download and play it with and this is a composition that I created using several stock photos but anyway. So, I'm going to click and drag down on this curve and this is going to make the darker pixels even darker. If I want to lighten up the lighter pixels, I can just click and drag this up and I'll do this for now just because I think this may work but, you know, we can always change our mind and come back if we want to. So now, I created contrast in that image like so. I think the Luminosity is okay for now. so I'm going to click on Color, enable that layer and now we're going to be playing with color. So if you remember, in the examples that I showed you, the darks had Blue-Teal effect to it and the skin colors were not affected at all, in fact, they stand out. So, we're going to try to create something similar here. So, how do we create a Teal color in the background while leaving the colors in the face intact? Well, we're going to use the RGB channels for that. We're going to start with the Red channel. If I click and drag this to the right,it takes away Red. What that means is that it adds Cyan. And if I click and drag to the left, it adds Red. If I click on this point and drag it up, it adds Red. If I click on these points and drag it down, it adds Cyan. So, how do you know what happens when you click and drag these points. The opposite of Red is Cyan, the opposite of Green is Magenta, and the opposite of Blue is Yellow but how do you know that I going to remember thatone tip I can give you is clicking on the Info pallet, which is this pallet here. You can go into Window > Info that is not enabled and you'll see here your RGB. The red opposite is Cyan. The green opposite is Magenta, Blue opposite is Yellow. That's one where you can remember. So, we're going to start with the Red channel and we're going to add some Cyan to the dark areas. I'm going to click and drag and place this point here in the middle because I don want to add any color to the lights. Actually I do, I want to make them redder. I just want to click and drag this point on the top over to the left and now you see how the shadows got a Cyan looks of them and the lights got a Red looks to them as well. I'm going to click on the Green and I want to drag up just to add a little bit of Green and maybe drag this over to the left just right a little Magenta on the lights. I just want to click on this curve and bring that back to the middle, so the middle stays the same. The darker pixels get Green and the lighter pixels get Magenta. Now, I'm going to go into the Blue Channel. Click in the middle again and I want to add a little bit of Blue to that and I'm going to add a little bit of Yellow to the light colors like so. Before and after just so you can see what we've done there. And from this point on, we can start playing around with different parts of the image. For example, if I think there is too much Red, for example, on this face here, I can click on this icon. Come to the part of his face where I think there's so much Red. You'll notice a circle up here right around this area as I drag along his face that I can click and it's going to create a point, then I can use the Arrow Keys in the keyboard if I want to bring that down, so it just takes a little bit of that Red away. If I want to go back into the Green channel and add more Green, I can click on that point and just use the Arrow Keys to adjust that. Actually, it has enough Green. Maybe it needs less Green. I'm trying to get that Teal color and I think this is working fine. So as you can see, we're almost there. This is obviously bluer than what we've got going here but I wanted to go for more of the Teal look and the Orange look. Like I said before, there's no right or wrong. It all depends on the story that you're trying to convey and the look that you're going for, so you don't have to get it exact. You can change it or you can do whatever you like. Okay. So what I'm going to do now, is unleash the Channel Mixer just to create a more interesting look and the name of this Adjustment Layers actually very descriptive. It mixes the channels. So before I get started, let me just get rid of this layer mask just so we can keep things clutter-free and things won't distract you. So with this Adjustment Layer, you have different Presets. For example, if I click on Black and White Infrared, you see what happens here. There's negative 70% on the Red Channel, 200% of the Green channel, and negative 30% on the Blue channel. blue filter, no Red, no Green, a 100% Blue and the total is down here at the bottom. You can have higher than 100% if you want it too but usually, we try to stay around 100%. And there are different ones and what I'm going to do is I want to look for one of these presets that sort of gives you the best contrast of my image and I think I want to go with Black and White with Orange and what I'm going to do now is I'm going to bring the Opacity down all the way to 0% and then just bring it up to maybe something like that. And once I'm here, I can go back and change my presets and maybe another one will work better. Actually, I kind of like the one with a Red fill because his face stands out more, so maybe that what I will use and maybe I will bring the Opacity because a little too strong but you can use the Channel Mixer to desaturate your image and give it more contrast as well. And once you've gotten to this point, you can also make other changes. You can subtract colors from this channel. \ Maybe he's got too much Red and you want to add some green or subtract some Blue. It all depends on what you want to do but I'm just going to stick with what I have before. And you know what, I'm looking at it, still color to dark and maybe lined it more. I think that works. Notice how Red the face is and it's little too dark and if I have this Channel Mixer, it takes away that Red and it lightens it, so that's what I want to do. I want to put all these Adjustment Layers into one group, so I want to Shift-click on the top one while holding Shift, I'm going to click on the bottom one. Ctrl J, Command J to turn that into a group and I'm just going to name this Grade because we applied a color grade to it and you can see the before and the after. Now, this was done using two Curves Adjustment Layers and if you find Curves Adjustment Layershard to use, I recommend that you spend the time learning them because they're really really powerful. And it's pretty much the only adjustment layer for color correction that you'll need if you learn how to use them. Now if you're a beginner and you're just starting and these sound very confusing, there is another way you can do this. It's a little more visual but I don't think the results are as good, so let me show you what that is really quick. Use a Selective Color Adjustment Layer and again, I'm just going to delete the layer mask to keep things clutter-free. What this adjustment layer allows you to do is to add cyan-Magenta-Yellow or Red-Green-Blue to any one of these colors. So for the Blacks, we want to add Cyan, so we're going to increase that. We don't want any Magenta, we want to take the Magenta away, so we're going to add some Green. We don't want to add any Yellow, so we're going to take away which gives us Blue and the image is a little washed-out, so we're going to increase the Blacks like so. And you know what, maybe a little less Yellow and a little less Magenta. Something like that and maybe increase the Blacks even a little bit more. So if you notice, we added Blue, Green, and Cyan to the Blacks, to the dark pixels, which is what we did earlier just even in a more controlled way. This might be a little bit easier to see but the result is not as good in my opinion. Then we can do the same thing to the neutrals. Reduce the Yellow, reduce the Magenta, which addsBlue and Green. Maybe add a little bit of Cyan and make these colors darker. Of course, I'm going a little fast, maybe you can get these colors a little bit better if you took your time and I don't want to do anything to the Whites. Now, I'm going to go there. I don't want any Cyan in the Reds, so I'm going to bring that down. Maybe add a little bit of Magenta. Maybe add a little bit of Yellow. I'm looking at the face here. That's what's my real concern is, and just find a nice skin tone, and maybe do the same in the Yellows. Maybe bring the Cyans down, add a little bit of Magenta, add a few Yellows. Something like that and I know it's oversaturated but we're going to fix that in a moment and we're going to do what we did before by adding the Channel Mixer and I'll delete the layer mask. And I'm going to go into the Presets and we'll choose you Curves Adjustment Layers to create your color grades, I would recommend learning curves using a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer. What a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer allows you to do is to use L-U-T files, LUT files which are lookup tables. That software that I mentioned earlier, SpeedGrade, uses color LUTs. We have all of these and we haveóI'mjust going to scroll to them really quick, so you can see that the different ones that are available in Photoshop. One of my favorites is film stock but this does not have the color effect that we were applying earlier but this one does. Teal-Orange, I want to select thatone and this is the effect that we get, a Teal-Orange effect. Now if you compare to the rest and to compare although what I did earlier, I want to open up the History Panel, click on the snapshot, so now we have the color grade that we did manually. We have the one that we used the Selective Color Adjustment Layer and we have the one that we created using that Lookup Adjustment Layer. So as you can see, they're all very similar but using curves has the greatest control; second, it will be the Selective Color Adjustment Layer; and third, it would be Color Lookup Table simply because you really don't have any control. If you wanted to change the Color Lookup Adjustment Layer, you would have to add other CurvesAdjustment Layer and, you know, maybe change the Luminosity or change the different colors then why start with a Color Lookup Adjustment Layer, you can just use curves. Now don'tget me wrong, I use Color Lookup Adjustment Layer all the time but for a specific color grading effect, there's nothing better than using curves and you have the control of coming back and making any change that you want, and maybe, if you want less Green to have more Blue then you can do so. So, I want to go back into the Blues channel and increase that Blue, so notice how this now has a blue tone to it and maybe this is not as bright as we would want it to be and actually, maybe that's a little too much Blue and maybe something like that. And then maybe, add more red to the face and we change the Yellow a little bit and I think maybe even need some Magenta. But anyway as you can see, this is a completely different look that we easily achieve just by changing the curves in the Color AdjustmentLayer and just for fun, I'm just going to add another snapshot.
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