Photoshop tutorial: Use colour theory to balance a photo’s colours using Photoshop CC’s Color panel (or Photoshop’s Kuler panel)

Learn how to use Adobe's Color Panel add-on in Photoshop CC 2014 (or Photoshop CS6 or CC's Kuler panel) to recolour clashing elements and harmonise the overall colour scheme of an image.

Intro


Colour theory is something that has been drilled into our heads as designers, artists and photographers - but it’s often harder to get right in practice than you’d think. If you’ve been looking for help to make your images pop, Adobe CC Color Panel - known as Kuler in older versions - is a great Photoshop tool from Adobe which gives you access to a list of complementary, analogous, triad or compound colour schemes, saving you time in the process.

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In this tutorial, we’ll look at how you can use Adobe’s Color Panel add-on in Photoshop CC 2014 - or Photoshop CS6 or CC’s Kuler panel - to recolour clashing elements and harmonise the overall colour scheme of an image.

The Adobe Color Panel is also available as a free iPhone app for those wanting to create on the go. You can even create your own colour schemes by taking colours direct from your photos.

Model: Ivy Paige

Software needed

Photoshop CS6, CC or CC 2014

Time to complete

5 minutes

Step 1

STEP 1

First, if you’re using Photoshop CC 2014, let’s access the Adobe CC Color Panel.

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If you’re working in an older version of Photoshop (CS6 or CC), you should already have access to the panel by going to Window > Extensions > Kuler and skipping to step 4.

If you’re working on an up to date version of Photoshop CC 2014, you will need to activate the panel first. Open up your browser window and log into your Creative Cloud Account at http://www.adobe.com/


Step 2

STEP 2

Once you are logged in to your Adobe account, you’ll notice a panel on the left of your screen with a number of options to manage your account. Under Apps, click on Add Ons and use the search bar to find the Adobe Color CC Panel.

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Click on blue FREE button to activate the Adobe Color CC Panel. It will automatically install the extension into Photoshop for you.

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Step 3

STEP 3

Now you’ve activated the Adobe Color CC Panel, restart Photoshop and go to Window > Extensions > Color Themes to open up the panel. Here you can see a selection of colour schemes made by other users that you can use in your own work, but for now go ahead and click on the Create tab.

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Step 4

STEP 4

Open your chosen image in Photoshop. Before we get started on colour theory, lets go to Filter > Camera Raw Filter and correct any exposure or white balance issues. Once you’re happy, press OK.

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The Camera Raw filter was added in Photoshop CC, so if you’re using Photoshop CS6, use the traditional Camera Raw window on a Raw image or Photoshop’s standard Exposure or White Balance adjustments


Step 5

STEP 5

We’ll be using the model’s hair as the base colour for our theory-based palette - so with the brush tool selected, hold down the Alt key and click on the hair to make it our active colour.

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Then, in the Color Themes panel, click on the middle icon beneath the colour wheel to set the selected colour.

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Step 6

STEP 6

Next, click on the drop-down menu at the top of the Color Themes panel and choose Complementary. This should give us a selection of turquoise greens and orangey browns to work with, although the exact colours will vary slightly dependent on where you sampled the hair from.

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Step 7

STEP 7

Now that we’ve got our complementary colours for this image, go ahead and click on the Add To Swatches icon to bring these colours into our normal swatches panel ready to use in our image.

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Step 8

STEP 8

Let’s have a look at the background colour. It is very similar to the turquoise in our new swatches, just a little desaturated – so we can leave that as it is.

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On the other hand, the red curtain stands out as a clashing colour – so let’s look at changing it to match the turquoise tones of the rest of the room. Click on the darker turquoise colour in the Swatches panel to set it to our active colour.

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Step 9

STEP 9

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Fill Colour… Change the blending mode to Hue and press OK. The Color Picker dialogue box should then pop up with our chosen turquoise green. Press OK to confirm the colour.

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Step 10

STEP 10

Next, click on the Create New Hue/Saturation Layer icon in the Adjustments panel. Select both new layers in the Layers panel and hold down the Shift key while clicking on the New Group icon to pop them in a group together.

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Rename this group ‘Curtains’. Your Layers panel should now look something like that shown here.


Step 11

STEP 11

Hold down the Alt key while clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon to create an inverted (all black) mask, removing the new turquoise colouring.

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Select the Brush tool and paint over the curtains with white to bring back the turquoise.

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Step 12

STEP 12

At the moment, the curtains are too bright for their environment, so select the Hue/Saturation layer and bring the saturation down until the colour blends with the tones of background.

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Step 13

STEP 13

Now we’ve address the curtains, let’s use same technique to tone in lips and nails.

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Highlight the Curtains group and press Cmd/Ctrl + J to create a duplicate group. Rename this group ‘Lips and Nails’.


Step 14

STEP 14

Now we’ve address the curtains, let’s use same technique to tone in lips and nails.

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Highlight the Curtains group and press Cmd/Ctrl + J to create a duplicate group. Rename this group ‘Lips and Nails’.

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Step 15

STEP 15

Set the foreground colour to black and – with the ‘Lips and Nails’ group mask highlighted – press Alt + Backspace to return to mask to 100% black.

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Then select white as the foreground colour and brush over the lips and nails to allow the new colour through. The curtains should now be back to green whilst the lips and nail are desaturated.


Step 16

STEP 16

Clicking on the Hue/Saturation layer in the Lips and Nails group, reset the saturation back to zero by double clicking on the word Saturation in the dialogue box. You may also want to reduce the Lightness slider by 15-20%

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