23 February 2010

Kapowing! The Kapow Color Pop

by guest columnist KatieKapow (''')-.-(''').  Follow her on Twitter.
 As a photographer working in the digital age, I'm a firm believer in the magic of Photoshop. A small twist here or there can make the difference between something good and something wow-tastique! If you haven't noticed yet, I'm also a huge fan of colour. Turning the colours in my photos from normal to surreal is a constant of my work. In this installment of Kapowing, I wanted to share a simple technique to help make the colours in your digital photos POP!

I work in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. For this “how to”, I've included screen shots and instructions on PSE, but if you're an original Photoshop user, the instructions are pretty much the same.

It's a very rare occasion that Kapow shares any of her techniques. So pick that jaw up off the floor and let's get to colour poppin'!

1 ★ First things first: Open your photo in your project bin.

2 ★ We're going to boost up the contrast to add to our pop! Go to > Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Brightness/Contrast > and pull the contrast up by 25.

3 ★ Let's make it thick with colour. > Enhance > Adjust Color > Adjust Hue/Saturation > and match the contrast with a + 25 to saturation.

4 ★ Now, double click your background layer to change it to Layer 0.

5 ★ Right click Layer 0 to duplicate the layer, and change the layer type from “Normal” to “Overlay” on the drop down menu.

6 ★ Now for the big changes! Create a new layer (Layer 1) also changing the layer type from “Normal” to “Overlay” and get ready to make a feathered vignette. Click your marquee tool to make the Feather box visible. You'll want to set the feathering based on your photo's pixel dimensions. It should be as close to a tenth of the images smaller side. My photo here is about 8 mpx so I've set the feather to 250. Set your foreground colour to black and hide your other two layers on the layers menu.

7 ★ Using the marquee tool, drag and select the entire blank layer. Invert your selection using the command “Control + shift + I” on your keyboard (command + shift + I on a Mac). Using the paint bucket tool, fill your vignette with your foreground colour, black.

8★ Make your previous layers visible once again on the layer menu and duplicate your new Layer 1 for a more dramatic affect!

9★ Create a new layer (Layer 2) and set the layer type to “Overlay” from “Normal”.

10★ Change your foreground colour from black to white. Click the gradient tool and choose “radial gradient” at the top menu. Select “Foreground to Transparent” on your gradient style.

11★ From the center of your photo, click and draw a line to the far right side of your image.  When you release you're the mouse button, you will have filled the center of your image with a burst of white light in a radial fashion.

You can change the opacity of this layer. I like to tune it down to 50% of the gradient's strength, but adjust how your eyes see fit.

12★ Right click on your Layer 2 and “Merge Visible” - ta da! You're all done! You just added a whole lot of pop to your photo! Compare the difference!

Of course this colour popping technique isn't right for every photo, but it's fun to play with on your colour rich photos and see what you can make of them. This guide will give you a good foundation to work with, and there's always room for fine-tuning. Give it a shot, and as always, if you feel like sharing, throw me the link! I always love to see what you come up with. (^_^)

★Kapow (''')-.-(''')

Random Fact Of the Week About KatieKapow (''')-.-(''')
I see the world very differently from most. Someone could, say, look at a tree and see a tree. I might look at it and see the way the colors and surrounding landscape might make the tree look strong, or towering, or even tiny. It’s an emotional experience, looking at the world through my eyes, for a number of reasons I won’t get into here. As such, when I look, I emote and assign emotion. I can’t help it. It’s what I do best.


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