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Creating vintage color looks in Color Efex Pro

From: Nik Creative Effects Workshop

Video: Creating vintage color looks in Color Efex Pro

Applying a vintage color look or an old film faded look has become quite popular. And there are lots of presets and filters out there that will do it for you. But of course the way to truly make your own unique look is to start from scratch using a tool like Color Effects Pro 4 and to build your own recipe. Come up with your own combination of effects that will give you the look that you're after. The way that Color Effects Pro 4 works is, you combine a series of filters that you find over here on the left, into something called a recipe, over on the right. You can start with any filter that you like.

Creating vintage color looks in Color Efex Pro

Applying a vintage color look or an old film faded look has become quite popular. And there are lots of presets and filters out there that will do it for you. But of course the way to truly make your own unique look is to start from scratch using a tool like Color Effects Pro 4 and to build your own recipe. Come up with your own combination of effects that will give you the look that you're after. The way that Color Effects Pro 4 works is, you combine a series of filters that you find over here on the left, into something called a recipe, over on the right. You can start with any filter that you like.

So, as you scroll through here, you'll see things like the black and white, and bicolors and bleach bypasses, colorize, and so on. And the whole idea here, is to take multiple filters and combine them together in a totally unique and new look. Now there are some film effects, nostalgic, vintage and things like that in here. And those are pretty good but I think if you really want something unique that you can call your own you want to come up with your own custom recipe. So, I'm going to show you one of my favorite recipes. And of course what you should do from here is take this information and work on your own. So the first thing I want to do is add a Bi-color filter. Now, there's two different types of Bi-color filters in here. There's a series of gradients that have been predefined that you can choose from. Or you can go to this one called Bi-color user defined, where you can define your own colors to start with.

Now, one of the things to note about the Color Effects Pro filters. As you roll over each of these, you'll see a little icon show up to the right. If you click on that, it'll open up to show you a series of presets. Now, the presets can be really good and helpful starting points. So, for example, here with the Bi-color user-defined, you've got a blue to tan, you've got brown to pink, green to yellow, and so on. And for the vintage look that I'd like to work with in here, green to yellow and this one here blue to tan. I'm going to go ahead and work with this blue to tan which I think works out quite well with this image.

But as you can see its really really strong so we are going to need to scale that back a bit. The whole idea behind a color shift like this or a color overlay is that were trying to make it look like it's faded. Or maybe something got on the print and its been sitting around a while and the colors just arent quite right anymore. So what I'll do first is just take the opacity down. I like the colors as they are, but they're just too intense. If I take them all the way down to zero, of course we see the original photo. Let's just drag that out to, maybe right about there. I think that's pretty good place to start. Now, older photos are usually not so saturated.

This is pretty brilliant looking image, even with the colors that we've just applied to it. So, what we really want to do is just scale the saturation back. So, to do that we're going to look for something in here to pull back saturation. Now there isn't a filter in here that says saturation, however if you look for one called Brilliance and Warmth this will allow you to affect the saturation of the image. Now here's something to watch out for when working with Color Effects Pro 4. If I simply click on the this filter right here it's just going to replace the filter that I added so, I've just lost all the work that I did. Well, fortunately if you do that you can just hit undo, you can't get to it from the menu up here.

But if you just tap Cmd + Z on the keyboard you will undo and get back to where you were. So, instead of simply clicking on the filter that you want to add, you first have to click this button here that says Add Filter. This opens up a new filter cell so that you can go ahead and add a new filter from the list. So now we'll look for that Brilliance and Warmth filter and add that in. And as you can see, you have a saturation. And a warmth saturation is the brilliance in this case so let's just go ahead and take that down a little bit. And as you can see if we go all the way down it will go to basically black and white. We don't want that but we do want to pull some of the color out make it not quite so saturated not quite so rich. Let's try something like that.

Now old pictures tend to be a little bit grainier, at least that's how we like to perceive old film is grainy, so let's add some film grain into this. Remember to add another filter, and then find the film grain in here. There's a few different film effects, but straight up film grain is what I'm after. And I really want to make this pretty grainy, so let's just take the grain per pixel, so that's the number per pixel. A higher number's going to be a finer grain image, the lower number's going to be a grainier image. Now, we don't want to go crazy here, but let's just scale it down to maybe about so, so that we get a fair amount of texture in there.

Now, another thing we have under this filter, is the film contrast. You may have noticed when we enabled this, that the contrast increased in the shadows in here, and I don't really want that. I don't want it to be quite so contrasty. I want this to be a bit flatter. So I'm going to take that film contrast and bring it down pretty much all the way. I think I kind of like it like that, a little bit flat in the shadows. It's definitely working towards that old film look here. And remember at any point you can compare this with your starting point by simply pressing and holding on the compare button.

So, click and hold on that and you'll be able to compare that. You can also do a split screen preview or do a side by side comparison. The next thing I want to do is soften the overall image. I'm looking at this thinking, you know a lot of older pictures tend to be a bit soft not quite this sharp. This is so sharp we can see the veins in the leaves in here. And frankly I think it's just a little bit too much, so I want to soften this up a bit. So, once again click on Add Filter and then I'm going to look for a soft focus filter called Classical Soft Focus. Here we go.

Now this Classical Soft Focus is pretty good. We can take the strength of that way up and just really soften the image overall. It gives a nice glowy effect to it. But there's a little bit of a problem here. What I've just done and its kind of softened up the grain and that's clearly not what we need to do. The way that these are rendered they are rendered in order. So, if I have grain before soft focusing, I'm going to end up softening my grain which is probably not what I really want. So, I'm going to take this soft focus drag it back a level. Let's go behind the grain in there and now our grain is still applied after the soft focusing. So, the softness is not affecting the grain itself. Now we can go in there and play with that soft focus a little bit. Maybe diffuse some of the detail in there.

I think it's getting a little bit bright let's just take the brightness back on that, has added a bit of brightness I don't want in there. You could also play with the shadow detail if you want to lift that up a little bit. But I think this one's fine, right down there at the default of 0. Now the last thing that I want to do to this image is to add a border on it. Now border effects can really be overdone. It's very ease to add a big huge border on there, and, you know, frankly that's not how all old pictures looked. They didn't all have big, huge, chunky borders. But it can be kind of effective to add a little border, just to give it a little bit of texture, little bit of roughness around the edges.

So, once again I've added an empty filter, and I'm going to scroll down here and find the image borders. And once again, this kind of a border in here is just a little bit too much. But we're going to fix that, we're going to change this to make it look a bit more natural for this particular photo. The first thing you can do is choose what type of a border, and that's probably the first thing you should do, decide what type of a border you want on here. Now, again, I don't want anything big and huge and chunky and floating. I want something a bit more subtle, so I'm going to go for, how about that one right there. Type 10 looks pretty good. So as you can see, we have some nice soft edges.

It almost looks like the paper is curled up a little bit. There's a bit of a shadow underneath it. But still, against this solid white background, it's just not really working for me. It's not going to give me the old world look that I want. So, let's start by taking our size and taking it all the way down, so that our edge butts right up against the edge paper in there. And then I can take the spread and play with that as well, and you can see as I drag that back and forth. It's almost like the edges of the paper curling up a little bit. And I want a bit of a spread in there, so I want a little bit of a curl going on. That's pretty good. (INAUDIBLE) And then I can also change the roughness of that edge. How rough or smooth is that? So, we'll just put that somewhere in the middle.

And don't forget, you have this button here, very border. What this does is it just adds a random seed number in to the calculation here to change it. So, that you don't end up with the exact same border that somebody else has. You can go in here, and actually punch in your own number if you want to. I don't know that that's going to give you much of anything, but if you just type on the very border button. Then you can get some totally randomized edge on your image. Now this is looking good, but I still have a bit of a problem here. Let's just zoom in, go up to the corner here. Notice that what we're looking at is a colored image with a shadow behind it against the white. And that's white is what's bothering me there, I really don't like that white on there.

So, here's what I'm going to do. Remember u points? We can add a u point to a frame. So, here we have the ability to add two different types of u points or control points. A positive point or an add point. And a negative point or a subtract point. What will happen here is if we click on the plus then the whole effect is going to go away from the entire image and only where I've added this point is the image. Effect going to show through. I'm going to go the other way. I'm going to grab the minus and add a minus point up in the corner here and let's make that nice and big so it covers as much of the image as we can.

And then the opacity is set to zero by default. We're going to take that up a little bit. I don't want it to be zero. I just want it to be. maybe about 50%, or so. And notice how the original color of the image is showing through back there. So, the border is no longer quite so prominent and strong as it was before. Now, I want to duplicate this same capacity point, stick it in this corner. So, to do that I'll just hold down the Option key, and click and drag on this point and drop it into the corner here. Depending on your image, you may find that you want to add one to the other corners as well. That's really just up to you and how that image looks.

Let's go ahead and zoom in again. I'll just tap the spacebar to zoom in this time. Why don't we check out another point? We'll use the navigator to drag over here. And as soon as that draws out, we can see exactly what that's looking like. So, we're getting something kind of interesting and cool in here. I, I really like the way this is coming together. Zooming in at this point's a good idea, too, to check things like your grain. This might be a little bit too grainy for our look. But I'm going to leave it as it is. It just depends on what you're after in there. Now that I've done all this. Looking back at the overall scene. It seems like the saturation has been kicked back up a bit.

I think maybe adding in a film grain or maybe even a soft focus just brought some of that saturation back. We remember earlier we were able to re-arrange the filters here. So, we move the soft focus behind the film grain. Now is a good opportunity. Just take this brilliance and warmth one, and move it up to the very last part of the filter stack. And then we can take our overall saturation, and bring it back down a little bit. Now we're getting somewhere. So, now I have this image that has a color wash over it, using the Bi-color user defined. I've added a bit of soft focusing with the Soft Focus filter.

That is some great film grain, put on a border and then took the whole thing and desaturated it a bit. Now at this point I can go ahead and click on Save. But if I do I'm going to have to come back and redo all this again later. So, don't forget to save your recipe. By clicking on Save Recipe it saves all these filters together as a combination or a recipe that you can reapply at any time. We're going to call this Vintage Film and I'm going to go ahead and click Okay. Now one thing to know about these presets you save about these recipes is that the Control Points are not safe with them. Control points are unique to every image that you apply. Now granted in this particular case we're just stuck in the corner. But chances are just as good that we could've put it over this green leaf here.

Or maybe over the pink bud. And that would not make sense on another application of this recipe. So, the u points are not applied. That just means that for this particular look you're going to have to remember to put those u points back on in those corners if you ever want to replicate this. Once you're done, just time to hit Save. So, let's go ahead and save this and check it out compared to the original. And then we'll take this same recipe and apply it to another image and see how that looks. Here we are back in Aperture. And as we can see, we've got our before and after there's the original and there's a new version of it.

I think it looks pretty good. Let's go ahead and try another shot here. We have this Celtic cross here from a cemetery in Belfast, Northern Ireland. And it's a bright and saturated image not quite the look that I want for this photo. So, once again I'm going to right-click and choose Color Effects Pro 4. And this time because we saved that recipe all I'm going to have to do is apply the recipe. And then stick those view points on the corner so I can get that same film edge effect that I had before. Here's my custom recipes that I have saved. There's the vintage film one that we just did. Overall it looks pretty good, maybe I want to bring the saturation back just a little bit just for this image. Remember each image may need a little bit of custom tweeking. No problem in there.

Let's just take that saturation down to right about so. And let's go into those image borders and add the control points in. So, remember a minus point is what you want in there. We'll just make that a bit bigger and take the opacity to roughly 50% or so. Just going to depend on your image. And let's go ahead and option drag a control point down to the opposite corner here and do the same thing. I think we're going to go ahead and stick one on each corner on this. Just to really make sure that the edges look great. And we're good to go. Let's just take a quick zoom in.

Take a look at the edges see how those look. Looking pretty good. I like the look of it overall. I'll go ahead and save that and apply it and go back into Aperture and see how the two look side by side. And there we have it. So, there's that image, lets take a look at this one next to the other vintage image that we did, the flowers here. And this is looking pretty cool. Let's go ahead and go full screen on this and see how these look. Fantastic. This great old film vintage look is consistent across the two images. If I want to go back in and make individual changes to them of course I can do that as well.

But in general we have a good old film look that is our own custom recipe. So, take this information, go in and build your own custom look, maybe play with other colors and film grains.

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Nik Creative Effects Workshop

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