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Toning colour images (further information)

Toning colour images

A key function of any digital camera is its capacity to produce images with colours that match or closely resemble those of the original scene and, generally speaking, most do a good job. There are exceptions – e.g. when the camera’s automatic white balance gets things wrong – but most of the time you can be fairly confident that what you see is a reasonably faithful ‘copy’ of the original scene. From a technical point of view, this is a good thing, but aesthetically it’s a little more complicated, not least because digital images can appear quite sterile.

In this tutorial we will explore these aesthetic limitations in a bit more detail before moving on to discuss a variety of tools and techniques you can employ to tone your colour images. This will include a discussion of the Channel Mixer, the Selective Color tool and the Curves tool. We will also discuss the merits of selectively toning specific areas of an image to increase their overall impact.

The topics covered in this tutorial include:

  • Digital versus film
  • Using the Channel Mixer
  • Understanding complementary colours
  • Using the Selective Color tool
  • Comparing the Channel Mixer and Selective Color tool
  • Using the Curves tool
  • Warming and cooling an image
  • Reverse S-Curves and cross processing
  • Selective toning

By the end of this tutorial you will be able to:

  1. Use the Channel mixer to alter the tone of a colour image.
  2. Use the Selective Color tool to alter a specific colour range and the colours of a particular tonal range of an image.
  3. Use the Curves tool to alter a specific colour range and the colours of a particular tonal range of an image.

This tutorial contains 5420 words, 59 illustrative images and screen grabs, and has received 27 comments.

Photoshop files included with this tutorial

Each of our tutorials is based around a series of Photoshop files, at the resolution originally posted on chromasia, and each contains all the original adjustment layers I used to create the final image. The ones that are included in this tutorial, and a brief description of how each one will be used, are listed below – the ‘before’ version on the left, the ‘after’ version on the right. Each of these files can be downloaded after you subscribe.

How to get from this … to this
Image 1
In this example I will show you how to use the Channel Mixer to tone a colour image.
Image 2
In this example I will show you how to use the Selective Color tool to selectively tone a portion of an image based on either its colour or tonal range.
Image 3
In this example I will show you how to use both the Selective Color tool and Curves tool to tone an image.
Image 4
In this example I will demonstrate how selectively toning specific areas of an image can greatly increase its visual impact.
What our subscribers have said about this tutorial

"This is an excellent tutorial. I am by no means a neophyte when it comes to using Photoshop to process my images, but I had always wondered about the toning effects I have seen on Chromasia. There are some techniques here that I really hadn't used or seen tutorials for, so this was definitely worthwhile!"

Dave

"These have been truly a joy to go through. I especially appreciate that you reinforce the concepts as you go along. Thanks for being a good steward of your gifts."

Brooks

"This was the best of the bunch so far, and had me scurrying away to apply the methods in CS3 and also the concepts in Aperture."

Jeremy

"Your tutorials rock. they simply explain what could potentially be a very confusing process. When i can afford to order more, I shall."

Gypsy

Content overview (the rollover graphics and embedded videos are not illustrated)
page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4 page 5 page 6
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To find out more about our other individual tutorials please click any of the following images. Alternatively, you can visit our main tutorials page for further information on: our annual subscriptions; our forthcoming issues; and our current members’s offers. You can also read through our sample tutorial on Tonal Range and the Curves tool.

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HomeOnline tutorials27 comments 
Toning colour images (further information)