Photoshop tutorial: Match the colours of objects in Photoshop using the Match Color tool

The Match Color tool allows you to apply the tonal range from one layer of an image to another. Here's how to use it to composite objects from different sources realistically.

Intro


When creating digital composites, one of the most important factors is maintaining a constant colour balance throughout the entire image. Whether you’re shooting your own photographs, creating your own CG elements and/or working from a stock image library, quite often the individual components will have been shot or rendered under different lighting and will need adjusting to match their environment.

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Match Color is a handy built in Photoshop tool that allows you to apply the colour range from one layer of your image to another, creating continuity between the layers.

Here photographer Tigz Rice shows you how it works with an image that draws on the look of Disney’s modernised story of the witch from Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent, which stars Angelina Jolie.

Time to complete

5 minutes

Software needed

Photoshop

Step 1

STEP 1

Open your chosen digital composite in Photoshop.

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In my example, you can see that most of the image has already been matched to the blue tones of the background. However the cauldron still has a warm tone from its original source.


Step 2

STEP 2

Click on the layer with the element you want to alter – called ‘Cauldron’ here – and duplicate it by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + J (or dragging the layer down to the New Layer icon in the Layers panel).

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Editing on the duplicate cauldron will allow us to edit the object non-destructively.

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Step 3

Step 4

STEP 4

First, we’ll choose our Source, which is the document we want to pull in our colour tones from. While it can be handy to pull colour tones from another composition – for example to match tones across a project’s worth of photos – I want to use the document I’m already editing (called WickedWitch.psd), so this is the option I need to choose from the drop down menu.

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Step 5

STEP 5

Next, we’ll choose the Layer, which is the specific layer in the document we want to match our element too. In this example, I’ve chosen to sample from the ‘Background’ layer.

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Step 6

STEP 6

Now that you’ve colour matched your element to the background, you can fine tune the effect with the Image Option sliders.

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For this particular object, I moved the Fade slider up to 30 to slightly reduce the amount of blue tone applied to the cauldron. I also reduced the Luminance down to 30 to create the appearance of a less reflective surface.


Step 7

STEP 7

Once you’re happy with the results, click on the Save Statistics button to save the profile you’ve just created, and save it to a safe location on your computer.

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This will allow you to load your settings and apply them to more objects in your composition without having to re-enter the same values repeatedly.


Step 8

STEP 8

Once you’re happy with the results, press OK to commit the changes to your Photoshop layer and continue working on your composition.

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