HOW TO USE A SOLID COLOR FILL ADJUSTMENT LAYER
A few weeks ago I discussed one of the ways to use Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers in my How to Use the Apply Image Command for a Cross Processed Look blog. This effect used two fill adjustment layers set to the Color blend mode to create a very nice effect. This week a few more tricks using them will be shown. The image above was taken recently in Savannah, Georgia, on a perfectly gorgeous Sunday morning. Color Fill Adjustments were used to make the beautiful colors in this image. But this is not the only way to use these rather obscure layers for adding “color” to an image. As shown below, they can be used as an overlay to add soft colors or localized ambient light to an image, or to match borders seamlessly to a finished image.
Adding Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers to Add Color to an Image
This technique is just one of several I learned from Calvin Hollywood in his Color Adjustment and Manipulations video on Kelby Training. This is another top-notch Kelby Training video and Calvin has many great techniques once again. (See my Spotlight Effect With the New Subtract Blend Mode blog for another of his creative techniques.) This was a 3-image HDR TIFF file that used 4 solid color fill adjustment layers in Photoshop using the technique below. See image 1 info at end of blog for more details.
1. By going to Layer -> New Fill Layer -> Solid Color, the New Layer dialog opens up where the Mode can be changed to Soft Light and click OK.
2. In the resulting Color Picker (Solid Color) dialog, sample a color over an area you want to enhance in the image. To get a really nice rich tone of that color, choose a little darker color than what you sampled by dragging straight down in the swatch so it is just below the middle. In this images case, a rich brick brown, a turquoise, a golden yellow and a light brick colors were used. Be sure all the Color Fill Layer Masks are set to Soft Light Blend Mode.
3. Fill the layer masks with black by clicking inside the mask and inverting (CTRL+I ).
4. Paint with white in the layer mask over areas matching the color in the layer color thumbnail.
5. Now the layer’s opacity can be adjusted as a last step so you do not over-saturate the image.
Adding color in the image this way can really just “pop” the colors, and it can be localized to just include the colors you want more vivid. I find this definitely works best on images where there is a very colorful element in the image to begin with. You can see in the above the difference between just a tone-mapped image, and the addition of the Solid Color Fill Adjustments. And notice that the street and most of the greenery were not changed much – just the house colors added the pizzazz to this image. It takes a few minutes to do, but I think it is definitely worth the effort since the effect can be localized to just what areas you want.
This pink gerbera image contains two Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layers – one was added to bring out the pinks more and it was set to Saturation blend mode, and the second was a white one with a pattern painted on the layer mask to add some subtle texture to the background – it was set to Soft Light blend mode at 69% layer opacity. Both of these layers added some color shifts and lightening that I really liked in the image. See Image 2 info below for more about processing. You can experiment here using different blend modes and also filling the layer masks with black and painting in the localized effect.
Use Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer to Add Some Localized Ambient Light to an Image
Here is a great example how using a Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer can help lighten an image to give it a real warm feel. This image of a porch in Savannah, Georgia, was taken in bright sunlight but it did not have that real translucent golden-hour feel. I followed a similar technique as used above, but this time just a really bright Yellow Fill Layer was added, then filling the layer mask with black and painting back only the leaves and flowers, thus directing the lighting effect to areas I wanted brighter. I love the final look – a beautiful place to have your morning cup of coffee! For more post-processing info, check out Image 3 at end of blog.
Add Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer to a Border or Frame
I have used this technique many times where an already created PNG overlay file is used as a border and I want it to blend in perfectly. (See my How to Create an Overlay Out of a Texture blog.) By clipping the Solid Color Adjustment Layer to the PNG or JPG border (ALT+Click between the layers to clip), you can sample (click on swatch and move eyedropper in image and click on a color) to match the border to the image background color easily. This can give a nice finished feel making it look like you painted the frame in the image. Below, the Granada Bridge on the Halifax River in Ormond Beach, Florida, used a Watercolor Border Frame from another image and then a sampled light beige solid color fill was clipped above it and set to 69% layer opacity. For more details on image, check Image 4 information at end of blog.
The solid color fill adjustment layers are often overlooked but can be quite effective with some experimentation. Note that lots of the expensive actions use the layers in their actions setting them to different blend modes and opacities to get certain looks they want. Lots of fun once you start playing around with these layers and so easy to manipulate. Definitely take a look at what they will do and I think you will like the results. I know I did!…..Digital Lady Syd
Image 1: In Lightroom three images were opened in Nik HDR Pro 2 where the Graduated I preset was applied – top image in tych above. It came back into Lightroom as a TIFF where Basic panel sliders were set and the Lens Correction panel with the Remove Chromatic Aberration checked and Upright Auto used – bottom image. Next it was opened in Photoshop as a Smart Object. Note the Layer opacities were set at various amount depending on what looked right – you do not want to over saturate the image. Then just a little clean up to the sky area was done. Very simple process and quite lovely!
Image 2: In Lightroom just the Basic panel changes and some sharpening with the Adjustment Brush on the flower center. In Photoshop a bright pink Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added and set to Saturation blend mode to really bring out the colors in the background. Also in the Layer Style the Blend If This Layer black tab was split and set to 0/94 to add a little more lightening to the background. 2 Lil Owls Studio French Script Brushes 31 and 27 (see my Tidbits Blog sidebar for website link) were added and the lines were painted off the leaves using a layer mask. Next a white Solid Color Adjustment Layer was added and set to Soft Light blend mode. I used a really rough brush I had created years ago to add a grainy feel to the whole image and painted with black into the layer mask of the fill adjustment. A Levels Adjustment Layer was added and the Output Levels was set to 30/255 to lighten up the image more. The last step involved adding Nik Viveza 2 to give the center a little sharpness and the edges just a little darkening vignette.
Image 3: I had to crop this image in quite a bit to get the look I wanted. Next Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) DeNoise 5 was set to an overall setting of 0.09. To get the fall look, a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and the Reds, Yellows, Greens, Neutrals and Blacks were adjusted to get colors I liked. The Camera Raw Filter was applied to get rid of some purple fringing I found while clean up the image – worked great! Nik Viveza 2 (my favorite plug-in) was applied and the flowers were sharpened and saturated with control points. Next the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer was added using the color #e7e148 and a black mask – just the leaves, flowers and gold fence tips were painted enhanced. Set to Soft Light at 57% layer opacity. Next a Color Balance Adjustment Layer for the pinks in the image (same process as the Solid Color Fill Adjustment Layer) and another Selective Color Adjustment Layer for just the Yellows were added. It sometimes takes a lot of little tweaks to get the image the way you like it.
Image 4: The image was created using a technique I discovered. French Kiss Collection Studio 3’s White Wash texture (my favorite of hers) was applied on top of a white background in a New Document. Next the texture’s layer style (double click on layer in Layers panel) was opened and a Pattern Overlay was added that used my original image that had been saved as a pattern (Edit -> Define Pattern) along with a Pattern Blend Mode of Vivid Light, Opacity 100%, and Scale 53%. The texture layer was set to 55% layer opacity. Next a composite (stamped) layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) ReStyle’s Tuscany Memories preset was applied (set Texture to 0.33 and Structure to -0.44). Back in Photoshop the Sketchy font was used with an Outer Glow (Opacity 27%, Spread 44%, and Size 62 px) and Drop Shadow (Opacity 41%, Distance 9 px and Size 4 px) Layer Style applied. The frame I had created used my free SJ WC Salt Brush set to 69 px on a blank layer clipped on top and painted around edge of a different image to get a nice effect. This layer was then saved as a PNG file to be used on other images, as in this case. The last step involved clipping the Solid Color Adjustment Layer with the cream color sampled from the image to the frame.