The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2. | WebReference

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2.

The Hidden Power of Photoshop Elements 3, Pt. 2.

The simplest way to add color to a black-and-white image is a method similar to applying the color component in the luminosity and color separation. Try this out:

1. Open any one of the separations you have made for the lily, or create a black-andwhite result for any image.

2. Copy the layer you want to color to a new image (on the Layers palette, choose More > Duplicate Layer, and then choose New from the Document drop-down list in the Duplicate Layer dialog box).

3. Flatten the New image (Layer > Flatten Image) and change to RGB mode (Image > Mode > RGB Color) if necessary.

4. Create a new layer above the black-and-white image background, and set the new layer mode to Color. Name the layer Color or something more appropriate to the color you will be applying (see the next step).

5. Change the Foreground color to the color you would like to paint in the image (click the foreground swatch on the toolbar to open the Color Picker, or use the Eyedropper to sample a color from another color image).

6. Choose the Brush tool (press B on the keyboard), and paint over the areas where you would like to apply the color in the new layer.

7. To paint in another color, repeat steps 5 to 6. Your layer setup should look like Figure 2.6.

Figure 2.6 In this technique color gets flatly painted over tone in its own layer.

The preceding steps let you paint with whatever colors you like. Colors could be added all in a single layer, as in this example, or directly to the tone, but these options offer less opportunity to adjust the colors later. For more flexibility, you can add additional colors to separate layers. To add additional colors on separate layers in the lily.psd image, continuing from the previous exercise, you could just do the following:

The drawback to this hand-coloring method is that tone gets flatly covered with color. Although the color varies as you see it because of the underlying tone, it doesn't always map as you would expect—it can be weaker or stronger in areas because the tone below it varies. You can adjust the color with layer opacity, and other tools, like smudge, Gaussian Blur, and other filters.

If you try this in an image with people and attempt to replace the skin tones, the flatness of the resulting skin tones will be quite evident and unnatural. Though this result can be improved by adjusting the quality of the color you are applying (see "Managing Image Noise," where skin tone is adjusted using noise), the color isn't as "smart" as you might expect. A Gradient Map can often be a better choice for hand-coloring.

Figure 2.7 Multiple layers are used in this example to separate colors on their own layers and the flower from the background to better isolate color application.

Hand-Coloring with Gradient Maps

Usually, applying flat color is not the best way to hand-color images. Instead, you can use gradients, which create a progressive change in color. Gradients can be applied using the Gradient tool or Gradient Map adjustment layers. The Gradient tool applies the gradient color according to the pattern selected in the options in the direction and distance that you apply the tool. This has somewhat limited application in hand-coloring and is more likely to be used in creating effects. Gradient Map adjustment layers replace colors and/or tones by using a customized color mapping. When a gradient map is applied, Elements replaces each level of gray with its corresponding gradient color as you've set it up in the gradient mapping.

So, say you have a grayscale image, and you apply a gradient map that has 100 percent red (R = 255, G = 0, B = 0) at the halfway point on the gradient (50 percent gray). All of the gray pixels at 50 percent brightness will display as red. If this gradient blends evenly to black at 0 percent and white at 100 percent, the red will fade to pink and then white where tones in the image get lighter; the red will darken to brick and then black where tones in the image get darker. Gradient application of color and tone can be infinitely more complex than this simple example by using more complicated gradients.

Remapping color and tone can work well in a limited area of an image. For example, you might use selection or masking to target a specific area of an image for recoloring skin tones. You can combine effects of two or more different gradient maps in a single image by using different maps with different selections or masks. Gradient Maps can also be used to create toning effects.for example, in sunset scenes or for duotone that the tone in an image can be associated almost exactly one-to-one with color.

To work with gradient maps, you need to be able to create and manipulate gradients. To work with gradients you will use the Gradient Editor, which can be opened from the Gradient Map dialog box. Open the Gradient Map dialog box by applying a gradient map as an adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map, click OK). When the Gradient Map dialog box is open, click the color bar under Gradient Used For Grayscale Mapping to open the editor.

Once the Gradient Editor is open, you can edit the current gradient, and create and save custom gradients for reuse. New gradients are created by adding and removing color and opacity stops, choosing a name, and clicking the New button. These new gradients are stored in the gradient library and are available whenever you choose gradient functions. Figure 2.8 shows the Gradient Editor dialog box and a breakdown of the major features.

Figure 2.8 The Gradient Editor allows the creation of custom color and tone alterations based on existing image tone.

Features in the Gradient Editor include buttons, the Name field, opacity and color stops, and Stops options.

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: December 27, 2004