I’m sure most of you have been very curious about how I get those beautiful colours on my images. Well, I don’t have a magic preset that edits my images with one click. Unfortunately. I tried to create several, but the result was different each time I applied them to my photos so I just gave up and chose a different way, which gives me more control and freedom. But before I tell you what it is, I want to explain why I use this editing method.
As you can see, I love playing with colours and keeping the aesthetic look. Since the beginning of my creative career I knew consistency is very important if I want to build a strong brand and portfolio. I was looking for popular themes, and one day I found an Instagram account that grabbed my attention (Arielle Vey) and that day I decided to use complementary or split-complementary colours on my images. Ok, that time even I didn’t know what these words mean, but here is a little explanation:
Complementary colours are two colours that are on opposite sides of the colour wheel. Split-complementary is a colour scheme using one base colour and two secondary colours.
Basically a combination of warm (orange, red, pink) and cold colours (cyan, blue, green). Here is an example.
To get this look, I always have to change the blues to cyan and the yellows to orange. If I don’t have enough colours to work with, I add more, like the flowers on this wall. I’m super inspired by the 70s bold design and I try to build those elements into my works whenever I can.
The editing process
If you want to edit like me, you must have an active Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. It’s not cheap, but it can change your life, believe me!
First I open Adobe Bridge and choose the photo that I want to edit. I usually take 3-6 photos of the same object from different angles so I have more options to choose from later. I always shoot in RAW instead of JPEG to get the best results after editing.
JPEG is a good-looking image right out of the camera, so basically your camera does the editing, The RAW file, on the other hand, is processed by you, so you decide how the image will look.
I open the raw photo in Camera Raw which is a free application by Adobe and it’s like a simpler version of Lightroom.
You need to set the preference in Photoshop first, so your raw photos will be able to open directly into Camera Raw.
- In Photoshop, go to Edit > Preferences > File Handling.
- Under File Compatibility, check Prefer Adobe Camera Raw for Supported Raw Files, then click OK.
I do all the basic editing in Camera Raw e.g. white balance, shadow and highlights, vibrance, contrast, optics, geometry… If I’m not happy with the image in Photoshop, I always switch back to Camera Raw to fix the problems.
To edit again in Camera Raw, in Photoshop, go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter
The two features that are very useful in this application are Dehaze, I use it for sharpening, and the Texture, which is good for editing the skin.
Next, I open up the photo in Photoshop where I do the rest of the editing. First I crop the image, 4:5 ratio is the best for social media. I duplicate the photo, merge down and start editing the colours.
The main tool that I use in Photoshop is the Selective Color tool. It helps me to individually change the colours and turn the yellows and reds into orange, and the blues to cyan. Basically I play with the sliders until I get the perfect look.
You can even change the brightness and contrast of the image by adding or removing black from neutrals!
With this tool, you can easily create a unique looking photo. It’s like creating your own filter.
There is another great tool that I recently started to use in Photoshop, the Replace Color tool. It’s the mixture of the Hue and Saturation and Selective Colour tool. With this, you get more control and freedom, because it changes only those colours that you choose with the colour picker.
Here you can see how I turn that brownish colour to green with the Replace Color tool.
And here is the final image. Magic!!! I sometimes change the sky too to get a more dreamy look. Notice the changes in the colour palette. Complementary as I mentioned above.
This editing process takes 2-3 hours, and sometimes I restart it because I can’t get the right balance. I create several versions and choose the one that fits better into my aesthetic feed/portfolio.
If you play with the colours like me, don’t forget to check how the final image looks on your mobile phone before closing Photoshop. It has to look perfect on every display. Avoid oversaturation! Also, I don’t recommend using this technique to edit portraits because it can mess up the skin tone easily. Nobody wants orange skin. Right?