Color Matching – Color Grading

I recently received an email from Wayne, an EverydayHDR subscriber, asking me about Color Matching the palette of one photo and applying it to another.  Here is his inquiry:

It has me wondering if there is some way to take a colour palette from a picture whose palette I like and transfer it to another picture of mine so I can get the feel and mood in the one palette into another. I realize I would have to be careful to use a new palette so it is believable in the new photo.

I came up with 2 methods to do this based on Wayne’s request.  Watch the video tutorial at the end of the post and get the Actions!

Option 1 – Color Match – Color Matching

I love a good challenge and Wayne surely got my gears spinning in a fun direction!  I remember a few months ago I was playing with this very idea using the Match Color feature in Photoshop.  It is not a common adjustment that we use as it is hidden in Edit– Adjustments– Color Match.  Using this tool you can essentially steal the color palette of one photo and add it to another.  This method has its pros and cons of course.

Color Matching Option 1 - Color Match



Quickly and easily matches the color palette of one photo to another

Can be destructive if you do not duplicate the background
Simple tools to match the color – Luminance, Color, Fade Not quite as many tools as other options for color matching – limited use

Can be difficult to remember where to find the tool

Option 2 – Gradient Map Color Matching

The other method I describe in the tutorial uses a clever way to break an image up into its main colors and apply them with a gradient map.  If you have been following the blog long you may find this familiar as it uses similar steps to a Topaz ReStyle technique to find the perfect preset for an image.

This method starts by breaking down the image you would like the palette from.  It breaks it into 5 or 6 color blocks, almost like a painters palette after a long day of painting!  From there you take the colors you would like and attribute them to a gradient map.  This grants you the ability to apply certain colors to certain tones in an image.

Color Matching Option 2 - Gradient Map



Nearly unlimited control over the colors being applied Can be difficult to remember how to make the color palette
Non-Destructive in nature Not for the PS faint of heart, but can be taught
When applied with Blend if and Blending Options this method shines
If you save the gradient you have very quick access for future photos


Which Color Matching Option will you choose?

Take a look at the video below and be sure to grab the Actions!

Get the Actions!

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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