Bair Art Edition's Tutorial on:
Adjusting Color & Exposure
In Adobe Photoshop

Color Adjustment: Painting Color Casts

I know I have given glowing descriptions of many other techniques, but seriously now, this is my favorite one of all!

We've discussed ways to select out specific colors, and specific tonal values at that, but what if you only want to change a color in a specific portion of the image without affecting the rest of the print at all. In other words, you want to tone down a specific place, but that color value exists elsewhere in the image and you don't want it toned down as well.

Here, for example, is an image that is nice, at least I think it is when it isn't cropped this close, but there is too much red/magenta in her forehead, I've circled the area I need to change (ignore the small circle for now).

You are going to be changing the image itself, so you might want to either 1) make a copy of the background layer so you can toggle on and off this adjustment, or make a new merged layer.

First select a color from the skin tones that you like. I generally pick a point sample (you can do 5 x 5 average if you want - both are uses of the eye dropper tool) in the highlights of the skin, otherwise the color is too dark. The small circle above her eye is approximatly the area I took the color from. The skin color I get on my color pallet is this:

Now I select the brush tool, and set the blending mode to Color:

This blending mode makes it so you won't be actually painting that color onto the image, instead you will be painting a color cast.

I set my brush as a soft-edged brush, and the opacity to 30 percent:

Now you go to your new layer that is a copy of the other layer(s). I painted in the area I outlined above, and made two passes. Remember that when using the brush, each time you hold down the mouse counts as only one pass at that opacity, no matter how many times you go ver the same spot. You must let up on the mouse and depress again in order to make another pass.

Each pass you make has an additive effect, but don't be too bashfull about going overboard; it is okay to adjust too much! Your safety net is that you aren't changing the image itself, but a copy of it that resides on a layer above it. If you paint too much of a color cast, lower the opacity of the above layer, and more of the original color will come through on the layer below.

Here are the two images side by side, before and after:


Now you may not like the one on the right, but that doesn't matter, the important point is that you can see the difference. I actually toned it down a little much so it would be visibly different on the web. And remember, if my photography doesn't look good to you, you need to calibrate your monitor! Okay, I'm just joking.

Remember this: And this is true for not only the techniques of this module, but the entire tutorial, if you have selected any area using a selection tool, any adjustments made (including with a paintbrush) only will occur in those areas. In other words, if you are trying to paint and nothing is happening, you may have a selection (not where you want it) and don't see it.

Also, always make sure you are on the correct layer!

The following are the other sections of this module: