Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Using adjustment layers to create better color, part of Portrait Project: Fixing a Distracting Background.
- The next step that we'll be taking in our project will be to create two color adjustment layers. One which affects just the subject, another one which affects the subject and the background together. Let's begin by clicking in to the top layer, the Portrait layer. Then click on the Curves adjustment layer icon. Here let's create an exaggerated adjustment. I'm going to click and drag down. You can see that I'm darkening everything, the subject and the background. Or we could click and drag up, and you can see how we're brightening everything.
Rather than having this affect the entire image, the foreground and the background, I just want it to affect the subject. To do that we'll click on the Layer Clipping Mask icon, it's right here. Now we have an adjustment which allows us to control the brightness and also the contrast that we have here on the subject. Let's brighten the subject up a little bit because it seems like it should be a little bit of a brighter, more high key light, so we'll go ahead and brighten that up just a touch. Then I'll bring down just a little bit of contrast there as well. Here you can see our before, and then now the after.
Next I want to apply an adjustment to everything. Sometimes when you're combining images together, it's a good idea to make an adjustment over everything, because it will visually connect those two images. The adjustment that we're gonna do is one which involves a Black and White adjustment layer, then changing the layer blending mode. The way that we'll do that is we'll create this black and white adjustment, then change the layer blending mode to Soft Light. This creates a unique aesthetic which sort of has this look where we have muted colors but some interesting contrast.
We can change values here by increasing or decreasing our sliders. We can brighten up those yellows. We can do the same thing with the reds here, too. What we're looking to do is to dial in a look which is affecting the subject and the background. You can see the before and after and how that's affecting the overall image. Currently, I think it's too strong. We probably need about half of what we have here. Just a subtle, little contrast layer where we're muting out some of the colors which we have in our photograph. That accomplishes this step.
Here it is, the before and after, at least for the adjustments we've made so far.