Color Corrections

Q: How can I color correct a photo of my painting? There is glare on the upper right, the green should be more saturated lime green, the lower leaf inside the bubble is not that bright.

A: First of all let me say that your painting is awesome!

Second, let me apologize for the delay in getting to your question. I have been trying to figure out the best way to answer all your questions.

Let's start with the glare on the upper right. Try these steps:

Step 1. Duplicate the Background Layer.
Press Control-J (Mac:Cmd-J) to create a duplicate Layer above the Background Layer in the Layer's Panel.

Step 2. Change the Blend Mode of the New Layer.
In the Layer's Panel change the Blend Mode from where it says Normal to Multiply. That will add weight to your photo. But it probably added too much weight and it added it overall. You just want it applied to the area that looks faded from the glare.

Step 3. Add a Layer Mask.
A Layer Mask will allow you to hide the effect on the areas where you don't need it.

Click on the half white/half gray circle in the Layer's Palette to create an Adjustment Layer. From the drop-down menu select Levels.

Don't make any adjustments. You just need an Adjustment Layer because it comes with a Layer Mask which you can use.

For versions of Photoshop Elements prior to version 8, click OK in the Dialog box. Version 8 users don't need to click anything.

Notice how the Adjustment Layer shows an icon representing Levels and to the right of the icon is a square white box. That white box is the Layer Mask.

You need to do a couple things to have the Layer Mask affect your Duplicate Layer. First it needs to be below the Duplicate Layer. Click and drag the Adjustment Layer below the Duplicate Layer. Don't grab it by the Layer Mask icon, drag it by the part of the Layer that shows the Levels icon.

When you see a double bold line appear between the Background and the Duplicate Layers release the mouse button and the Adjustment Layer will go into place. Now the Levels Adjustment Layer should be between the Background Layer and the Duplicate Layer.

Next you need to group the Duplicate Layer with the Adjustment Layer. To do that click on the top Layer to make it active. Now press Control-G (Mac:Cmd-G).

When you do that the top Layer will scoot over to the right and a 90° down arrow will appear to the left of it. That indicates that the two Layers are grouped.

Now you can use the Layer Mask to hide part of the Multiply effect on your Duplicate Layer.

Step 4. Use the Layer Mask to Hide the Effect.
Click on the Levels Adjustment Layer in the Layers Palette to make it active. Now select the Brush tool from the Toolbox to make it your active tool.

Make sure your Foreground Color (the top square at the bottom of the Toolbox) is black. If it's white press X on your keyboard to switch it to black.

Now move your cursor over the part of your photo where you want to remove the effect and "paint" the effect away.

If you accidentally brush away an area you didn't intend to, you can switch your Foreground color to white by pressing the X key. Then repaint over that area again and the texture will be revealed.

Your photo and Layers Palette should now look something like this:


See how the Layer Mask reflects where you painted on your image with black? The effect is still too strong though.

Step 5. Lower the Opacity of the Duplicate Layer.
Click on the Duplicate Layer in the Layers Palette to make it active. Click on the Opacity field at the top of the Palette to access the Opacity Slider. Drag the Slider to the left until it matches the density of the rest of your photo. I found 60% to be a pretty good match.

Use a combination of Opacity amount on the Duplicate Layer and painting with black and white while the Adjustment Layer is active to tweak your photo to your liking.

Here's a look at my before and after results:


To Be Continued

After I posted this tutorial I received a nice email from the artist thanking me. She suggested that there wasn't much change between the before and after.

I explained to her that I didn't want to go too far and make it darker than the original art. Without having the original in front of me I didn't know how much glare was introduced. Once I got some feedback from her it was easy to go back in and make further adjustments on the Layers.

This type of flexibility is one of the benefits of working on Layers. I had lowered the Opacity to 60% in Step 5. I just clicked on the duplicate Layer to make it active and raised the Opacity back to 100%.

To remove even more of the glare I painted a larger area using white with the Layer Mask active.

Here's the new before and after:


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