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Colour, Colour, Colour.

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  • Colour, Colour, Colour.

    Hey All,

    So I'm a photographer but have been retouching a lot of my own work for a number of years now. I've read a lot, watched a lot of online videos and spent hours trying out techniques that I stumbled across on this forum and others. I feel as though I have a fairly good and well rounded skill set and knowledge base. Importantly I realize that there's always a lot more that I can learn.

    My request today was prompted by another thread - "The demystification of... Vogue colour?". In it there's a very interesting discussion going on about the colour aspect of retouching. The discussion really centers on how much planning goes into colour strategy, how much is achieved on the shoot and how much is achieved by post.

    So my request: Can anybody point me in the direction of a good book/video that discusses the theory of colour as it relates to retouching? I don't mean a book detailing the tools needed in Photoshop (there's loads of them out there) or a book on colour theory (loads of them as well). I mean an essay on the decisions that are made when retouching colour, and the reasons for these decisions. A good book on the theory of colour grading for film would answer the same questions.

    Perhaps such a thing doesn't exist! If not: what are peoples' thought processes when dealing with colour? For instance, I try to retouch colors so that they are all working towards the same goal: if the overall feel of the shot is cool then I push all other colors in that direction. I'll often chop the image up so that I can fine tune various elements separately. I then tweak and tweak until I'm happy. But! I'm pretty sure that I can do better.


  • #2
    Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

    I can hihgly recommend the dvd's of Natalia Taffalar, imho she is one of the best retouchers around today together with Gry Garness...There is a great explanation in regards to colour vs retouching


    • #3
      Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

      I too am on this quest to understand color and color grading better. I think it really separates retouchers and those that do color grading very well are a leap above the rest. Retouching in itself for me is quite simple. I mean come on, who doesn't know how to whiten eyes or fix pimples, reshape the body, D&B, these techniques for the most part are straight forward but coloring is a completely different beast. I am constantly looking at magazine and editorials from the latest Vogue and Elle, and I want to be able to pick out the colors that make up a certain look and be able to replicate that if I want. I still seem lost when it comes to color. I'm mean look at the Gucci ads with the dark blue skies and the yellow/orange skin tones.... Or the Michael Kors ads with the bright colors and a very airy breathable feel to them. I've seen examples here of OP trying to do these colorings but I'm still not convinced that anyone here has done a superb job of color grading. Where are these retouchers hiding? I'm sure that Mr. Pascal Dangin does alot of final coloring grading on most ads more than he sits there and removes pimples and blemishes, that's seems like the grunt work whereas the final coloring/grading of the images is handled by him.

      Let's see some more posts on this subject please!!


      • #4
        Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

        Secret is in masking, mask what you want and then use selctive color, color balance or curves to adjust color. Also, Painting some areas on a separate layer with color and blending at different modes gives you interesting results.

        It's not really anything technical, it's mostly due to experimentation, practice and learning to control the effect.

        I'm experimenting with every single image, "style" comes later.


        • #5
          Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

          Thanks for all the replies so far. I hope this will become an interesting thread and there's lots of the general theory end of grading that I for one am fascinated by.

          @glamguru: Glad you're on a similar wavelength. I too stare at adverts and films on TV, as well as features and ads in magazines and wonder what the thought process of the person doing the grading was.

          @skoobey: Thanks for the reply, although it's really the decision making process that I posted about. There's many threads about the tools to get from A to B and I know I'll keep reading them as they're great. But what I'm really interested in is how and why a grader chooses to push things in a certain direction.

          FWIW I think that Happy Finish in London are really great at color grading. But they're not just good at producing one look. Instead of following the same recipe time and again they clearly work to a brief and seem to make sure the overall grading and contrast of the image support what the image is trying to achieve. Have a look here: , if you have a look at Stefano Cherubini's portfolio you'll see that he changes his style based on the brief to hand. He's clearly flexible and can work beyond whatever style is in fashion currently. I believe this takes thinking beyond knowing the tools to hand and I'm keen to learn more about the thought processes that go on with him and the team he works with.

          Anyone care to give a 'thinking workflow'?


          • #6
            Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

            Very interesting thread! I don't know much about color, but I can share some of my thoughts.

            It is likely that you have some directions for the color scheme in mind, based on the image you want to produce. It could be helpful to just desature your image and very roughly 'paint' it over with hues you think would work well on 'hue' blending mode. That could be a very quick and easy way to see if you like the color scheme you have in mind. This feels like an expressive and abstract way to try things out. Also, you have the ability to use your rough schemes as a reference. If you like it, there are a dozen of ways to actually apply the color scheme to your image.

            Some things are known to work well, like a complementary color scheme or a monochromatic color scheme. Most of it is a matter of trying out, I think. If your brain responds positively to what you see, the brains of other people will likely do the same.

            And that's what it's all about; really liking what you see instead of thinking that you like what you see based on theory...
            Last edited by mcdronkz; 03-06-2012, 04:08 PM.


            • #7
              Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

              I'm very much so interested in this thread. I do believe that colour is one of the biggest aspects of a professional photograph. What i've been noticing is that the more simpler pallet of colours in the image, the more professional and capturing it looks (please disregard selective colour :p).


              • #8
                Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                Bump! Only trick i really seem to use these days is blue set to exclusion on low opacity and im kind of tired of it i too like to learn some new color tricks. Maybe some pro retouchers out there would do a usefull video on coloring a inviromental portrait with some interesting techniques and put it on rental here on retouchpro. Really highly in demand i think


                • #9
                  Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                  YES, a color grading tutorial would be awesome! I'd want to se the retouchers work first as there aren't many that do this well.


                  • #10
                    Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                    Colour is just an illusion different for each one of us,
                    but we can't really compare how one sees with the other.

                    however some cultures see so differently,
                    that we can empirically show the difference
                    (and not because our physical eyes are different, but how we process it mentally)



                    • #11
                      Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                      I found this recommendation somewhere, but I can't figureout where..sorry, I'm old :-)


                      Some food for thoughts


                      • #12
                        Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                        This is the Bible for color retouching. It is a mandatory read for all our retouchers. Once you know this stuff well you can figure out how most adjustments were made.


                        • #13
                          Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                          amica999, I just quickly looked through that book.

                          it looks mostly about the design on set, not specifically about post processing
                          it has few visual examples (one frame per movie), but it explains in details the intent and reason behind the used tones, and personally I will find it interesting. Thanks.

                          Shoku, that looks like book about colour correction...
                          the grading usually starts after the colour correction is complete.. doesn't it?
                          Last edited by ShadowLight; 03-09-2012, 05:40 PM.


                          • #14
                            Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                            Shadowlight - it's all color correction - altering the values in the file for a specific effect.


                            • #15
                              Re: Colour, Colour, Colour.

                              Originally posted by Shoku View Post
                              Shadowlight - it's all color correction - altering the values in the file for a specific effect.
                              maybe this will shed some more light:


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