Color Theory as it Applies to Photoshop: Part 3 of 4

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Color Grading - Infinite Color Panel

This is part three of the four part series. In this segment we will tie everything we learned about Blend If and color theory together to color grade our images. We will look at some third-party tools and we will use a Photoshop action along with the Adobe Color Themes tool to see how we can color grade with existing Photoshop tools. This segment assumes you have your libraries palette setup and usable. If you don’t spend some time understanding Photoshop libraries. There are excellent tutorials on the Internet.

When I first started color grading it was hard to find resources. My first attempt was to set up a group with three layers, one for highlights, midtones, and shadows. In these beginning stages I set each group to Color. 

I also made use of Blend If to control where the colors where applied by adjusting each layer to appropriate tones for highlights, midtones, shadows.





From there it was just a matter of using a color wheel to choose Triad colors from the Adobe Color Themes Wheel and assigning one color to each layer. 

This system proved fairly successful but I knew it needed to go a little further. The fist tool I came across was the Infinite Color Panel I mentioned in the second tutorial of this series. Infinite Color Panel, as it turns out, uses a similar method to color grade with a feature called "Harmonize". This would automatically find an appropriate color and apply an analogous theme to the three layers. It was doing the same task I was only on a more automated platform. Infinite Color Panel also brought with it a suite of additional grading tools as well. 

Let’s start by color grading an image with Infinte Color Panel.

Color Grading with Infinite Color Panel


To use the Harmonize feature simply click on the word "HARMONIZE" then sit back on watch the fun. 

When HARMONIZE finishes its task you will find that Infinite Color Panel has added a layer group consisting of a Triadic color scheme. The layers target shadows, midtones, and highlights in the same manner my manual process worked. On first examination you may wonder what happened to your image. The colors may look a bit off, as is the case here. The purple is overpowering in the shadows. 

However, a quick adjustment to the shadow layer yields a much more natural result.


Another feature of Infinite Color Panel is the "CREATE" button. This button can either be set to Light, Medium, or Intense. I like to start out with Light. Clicking on the "CREATE" button will set up a new color grade layer consisting of Color Lookup, Gradient Map, Selective Color, Color Balance, and Curves. Each time you click on the "CREATE" button a new Infinite Color group is created, overwriting the existing group. You should be able to find something that looks ok, but may not be exact with just a click or two. I stopped here after two clicks. The color isn't exactly what I am looking for but the colors I need are there and can be fine tuned in the next steps.


On the Infinite Color Panel there is a shuffle icon for each of the five layers. Additional, you can opt to turn a layer off. There are a couple of options. Clicking on the Shuffle icon next to each layer will cycle through various settings. For example, clicking on the Gradient Map Shuffle icon a different gradient map from the gradient maps saved in Photoshop will be applied. Another option is to highlight a layer, such as Color Balance, and manually adjust color balance settings. You will quickly see how this works after a few shuffle clicks.

Use opacity to control how much affect Infinite Color Panel has on your image. You can control opacity of each individual layer or of the group. For example, I set the opacity of the Infinite Color group to 25%. If you look at the layer stack carefully in the following image you will notice a layer labled IC1. You can run multiple iterations of Infinite Color. In this example I ran a second iteration of Infinite Color. This allows a user to build color on color, or apply color to different areas by use of masks on the layers or clever use of Blend If. However, if you plan to do this rename the group you would like to keep. Otherwise it will be overwritten.

As a reminder, Infinite Color has a very active Facebook group with lots of gorgeous images submitted by users. The Infinite Color website has a number of helpful tutorials as well as a You Tube presence. I use Infinite Color Panel regularly, in addition to other tools.

We will continue our discussion of color grading in Part 4 of this series.


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