Cinematic Color Grading (Movie Look Effect) in Photoshop – Video Tutorial

This video is a lot more than a tutorial on cinematic color grading in Photoshop.

We will dive deep and take a comprehensive look at what color grading is, and how it works. Then you will learn how you can apply it in Photoshop using several easy methods.

The Color Theory Behind Cinematic Color Grading (The Movie Look Effect)

The popular “teal-and-orange” film look effect is the main effect that we will recreate in this Cinematic Color Grading tutorial.

You often see this effect in summer blockbusters and action films. The dark shades of blue or teal, against the bright orange tones that are usually found in the skin.

This complementary color combination makes the actor stand out in the frame. Complementary colors pop when they are used side-by-side, so they are recommended when applying color grades.

Check out to see an interactive color wheel and understand how complementary colors work.

But color Cinematic Color Grading is a lot more than making your actors pop. The Color grade should always enhance the story that your image (or video) is trying to convey.

Color Correction vs. Color Grading

In this tutorial, we discuss both color correction and color grading. A color correction removes color casts from neutral grays. While a color grade adds a creative color correction to tell a story.

It is critical that your images contain neutral grays and that they contain no color casts. If your image contains a color cast, you will not be able to accurately add the colors that you intend. Although this is not a color correction tutorial, we will learn how to do a quick color correction.

If you would like to find out more about color correction you could check out my tutorial on color correction or my course on mastering color in Photoshop.

Adjustment Layers That Can Apply a Movie Look Effect

We will look at all the different tools that you can use to apply the Cinematic Color Grading effect. I prefer to use the Curves Adjustment Layer since it gives you the most control. But you can use almost any adjustment layer that allows you to control color and tone.

If you have any questions, leave a message below!

Final Image

Drag The Slider To See Before & After

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Danny Joiner

Really nice!

Ken Webb

Really enjoyed this tutorial. It showed me how to use Color Grading in the creation of posters.

Javier Somoza

Really great tutorial, I will give it a try asap!

Good job!

Peter Ebel

Hi Ken, just detected your website through CGMeetup. Great Tutorial, thanks!

Ken Webb

That would be me, Ken Webb. Just an admirer of great tutorials on PTC.


Thank you! Glad you liked it!


Great tutorial!!


Awsome tuto!!!
Can you just say what is the shortcut to switch between different present in channel mixer?
Thank you!


Unfortunately it doesn t work, and usually i work without mouse. Did you know maybe how can i make my own shortcut for this?


Great, many thanks! That info will be a big help on my project to design a film poster style catalogue cover!

Would be even better if you didn’t talk QUITE so fast 😉

Carol Varveri

This is a great tutorial! ! Steven does have a very good point when he says it would be even better if you didn’t talk quite so fast. BUT -that problem and the slow learning problem like mine could be better solved, (I think) if you started having transcripts for your tutorials. Thanks

Carol (again)

Angel with the Phonebox

I always think it’s nuts when people tell narrators to “slow down.” YouTube videos have *pause*, *back*, AND *speed controls*!!… 99.9% of the time, I put it on 2x, and this was no exception. Great tut, keep speaking at your normal speed! ^_^


A video that actually teaches and is not a springboard for a one man show. Really likes it and will view again to ensure I have mastered all the nuances. Thanks!



first, fantastic tutorial!

one question. You pulled the lights of the green channel to the left and said you would like to add magenta. If I compare this to what you said about the red channel I expected that dragging lights to the felft would add green. The same you said about the blue channel afterwards. Now I am confused, what did I miss here?

Thanks in advance and best regards,



Great tutorial. One of the best I have seen on this subject.

It might also be worth mentioning on future tutorials when you are working in curves that the same workflows can be achieved using levels adjustment layers too instead. I have always preferred levels to curves and some other people do too. So I followed this tutorial using your blended adjustment layers using levels and achieved the same results of course.Cheers.


Awesome tutorial and many thanks!

This will be really helpful for the poster i’ll be needing to create for my assignment!


Thank you

Mari Nino


I want to thank you with all my heart for this tutorial. Amazingly explained, interesting tips and positive teaching. I have a result to share which I am proud of. I created a series of works that shows a story ‘Trepidation nature’ –

I wanted this cinematic effect in my pictures and create a viewer’s feeling as if he/she watches motion picture. For that I used your methods and a movie format 16:9.

Thank you once again!

Greeting from Russia

Louis Heeren

Again another great tutorial

Thank you so much



Hafid Ayllon

Hi Jesus,
great tutorial! Very impressed on how you dissected the elements of color grading. You made a complicated subject easy to understand ! Well done.


I love this tutorial because it actually is a Color Grading lesson. Very easy to understand.
Thank you.

Very gooooooooooood Really enjoy it. Love the way you show movie examples , reminds a lecture I gave in June in my Photoshop class. Congrats from Portugal

Bob Daniels

This tutorial is great! The whole channel is great, congratulations. A quick question. How does this tutorial differ from the tutorial you have on Creative Live?

Thanks, Bob Daniels


This is awesome! I have used this tutorial from Creative Live for sports team photos!!



Great explanation and tutorial thank you


Thank you buddy for sharing

Murugan G.R.

nice advance tutorial

Javier Veliz Delgado

Really amazing tutorial!
Thank you so much


Hi Jesus,

I can’t say more then the others, but amazing work, tutorial and explanation as usual.
You always go deeper in your explanation to provide the bites and bytes in each step which is great for all photoshop users level.
Thanks again and keep it up.
One last question regarding the files, I can’t manage to download them each time I got an error when extracting, can you help me please. Also, I am not sure if you provide the complete movies color grading as per your video or not, but I am highly interested to get them.



Great tutorial, good pacing, good voice and unpretentious. Pleased to have found this site.

Randy Moore

Hi Jesus. The resource files associated with this training cannot be downloaded. When I try to download the zip file, it’s just empty. Can you help?