In this tutorial, you will learn how to Match Colors in Photoshop using the Curves Adjustment Layer.
One of the most common problems when compositing images in Photoshop is matching the color tones of multiple images.
In this 90-Second Photoshop Tip, we will use the Auto Options in the Curves Adjustment Layer to quickly and easily match the colors of two images.
To follow along, you can open any of your composites in Photoshop, or download the images I used from Adobe Stock. The watermarked versions are free or you can license the hi-resolution versions if you like (Background and Foreground).
Steps to Match Colors in Photoshop:
- Create a Curves Adjustment Layer
- Clip The Curves Layer To The Foreground
- Open The Auto Options
- Select Find Dark & Light Colors
- Apply Dark & Dark Colors from The Background Image
- Fine-Tune The Curve
I’ve already extracted the background from the model layer, and as you can see, the background and foreground do not match.
Follow the steps below to make sure that the colors of both layers match.
Step 01 – Create a Curves Adjustment Layer
Start by creating a Curves Adjustment Layer. Click on the New Adjustment Layer icon and select Curves.
Step 02 – Clip The Curves Layer To The Foreground
We will use a Clipping Mask to make sure that the Curves Adjustment layer only affects the model layer.
Press Ctrl Alt G (Mac: Command Option G) to make a Clipping Mask.
If you did this right, you will notice a down-pointing arrow next to the Curves Adjustment Layer.
Step 03 – Open The Auto Options
Before you do anything else, click on the Curve’s Layer thumbnail. The Focus, the white outline, need to be on the Layer Thumbnail and not the mask.
In the Properties Panel, you will see the Curves properties.
Hold Alt (Mac: Option), and click on the Auto Button to open the Auto Color Correction Options.
Step 04 – Select Find Dark & Light Colors
In the Auto Color Correction Options, select Find Dark & Light Colors, and uncheck “Snap Neutral Midtones.”
Step 05 – Apply Dark & Dark Colors from The Background Image
This is where the magic happens.
You need to match the shadows and highlights of the background to the shadows and highlights of the foreground.
First double-click on the Shadows color swatch, then click on the darkest point of your background to select that color. Pure black will not work.
Double-click on the Highlights swatch and this time select the brightest point in of the background. Pure white will not work.
After you select the shadows and highlights, the foreground element should more closely resemble your background.
When you press OK, you will get a notice asking if you would like to make the colors you chose the default colors. Click on “No.“
Step 06 – Fine-Tune The Curve
For most composites, you will need to fine-tune the Curves Adjustment Layer to make a better color match.
In this case, creating contrast in the RGB curve makes the image look more realistic. But your composite may require different adjustments.
And there you have it! That’s how you can easily match colors in Photoshop!
Give it a try! If you create something using this tutorial you can share your results on Instagram with the hashtag #ptcvids!
Check out our Photoshop compositing tutorials for more tutorials like this!
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