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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to invert the colors in a layer and then match those colors to another layer inside your composition. Specifically, we're going to invert the moon and then we're going to match it to the fiery red background. Along the way, we'll take advantage of a couple of color adjustment functions, at least one of which we haven't seen so far. I'm still working inside Road moon & sky. psd, found inside the 08_selections folder. Make sure that the moon layer is selected. Click on it, if it's not. Then to invert the colors, that is to create a kind of photonegative effect where everybody switches to its luminous opposite, that is black becomes white, white becomes black, red becomes cyan, blue becomes yellow and so on.
You go up to the Image menu, you choose Adjustments and you choose Invert, or better yet, you press Ctrl +I or Command+I on the Mac. Now even though that's a static modification, that permanently affects the colors of pixels inside that layer, it's nondestructive, meaning I can press Ctrl+I or Command+I to restore the exact original version of that moon, with no harm done. The reason I can do that is because every luminance level has an exact and unique opposite, so none of the colors step on each other.
The only time you have a destructive edit in Photoshop is when two or more pixels that were formerly different colors, become one color. That doesn't happen with Invert. Anyway, I'll press Ctrl+I, Command+ I on the Mac, to invert that image. The next step is to go to a command that is definitely destructive. It's only available as a static command. You can't apply it as an Adjustment layer. You go up to the Image menu, you choose the Adjustments command, and you choose this guy right there, Match Color. It brings up what has got to be Photoshop's most poorly organized dialog box ever.
The reason I say this is because it is totally upside down and nothing is selected properly, by default. So, you start with this option here. Of all the options inside the dialog box, you start with Source, down here in the bottom-left corner. You change it from None, which why in the world would you want a Source of None? Because presumably, you're trying to match the color of something, otherwise you wouldn't be here. But None is what Photoshop guesses. What you want is the name of the current image, which in our case is Road moon & sky.psd.
If you've been working along with me since very beginning, then your image would be called the Fiery sky.jpg. Anyway, go ahead and select it. Then you need to specify the layer that you want to match. By default, again, Photoshop gets it wrong. It goes ahead and selects the active layer, which is never going to be the right choice, because you don't need to come to Match Color to match the colors of the active layer, it already is its own colors. So you'd switch from moon to, in our case, Background, because we want to match that fiery red sky. Then we start to achieve some meaningful results.
Now it's time to go up to Luminance and Color Intensity and Fade. Now Luminance is going to allow us to make the moon either lighter or darker. So if we take up the Luminance value, we're going to brighten the moon. If we take down the Luminance value, which is what I want, we're going to darken the moon. I'm going to take it down to 50. Color Intensity is going to determine how saturated the colors are, based on the saturation levels inside the layer we're trying to match. So it's going to infuse the moon with either more reds and yellows, or fewer reds and yellows.
And in my case, I do want fewer, but not quite this low. I'll go ahead and pump that value up to 75. These values are based on trial and error on my part. They are in no way magic values that you use with every single image. Fade allows you to fade the coloring away. So at 0, you're going to get full strength color, which if you ask me, it doesn't make any sense, but that's the way it is. If you increase this value, you're going to get less color, that is you're going to infuse less color from the background sky. So a value of 100% means you're fading away the effect entirely, which presumably, you'd never want to do.
Anyway, I'm going to change that Fade value to 0. You also have the option of neutralizing what Photoshop considers to be the neutral details inside of the moon. So, it's going to try to flatten out some of the colors, change them to gray. You're going to lose color. No matter what you do, you're going to lose color with Neutralize, but you may find that it's effective for some situations. In our case, it's not, so turn it off. These are the values we're looking for, and that's it. Go ahead and click OK in order to recolor that moon. Just to give you a sense of what we've done here, let's zoom in on the image a little bit.
I'll drag it down, so that we can see the very top of the Image window. I'm going to press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command+ Semicolon on the Mac, in order to hide that Guideline. Now I'll press the F12 key, in order to restore the last saved version of my composition. There's the original colors in the moon, and here are the altered splendidly red of the moon, thanks to the power of the Invert command, which is nondestructive and the flawed, but exceedingly powerful Match Color command, here inside Photoshop.
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