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2 Powerful Techniques to Quickly Match Subject To a Background in Photoshop

if you are new to Photoshop adjustment layers or you find color correction a little bit hard then you're in for a treat because Today I'm going to show you how to quickly and easily match color in Photoshop using two easy and powerful color correction techniques


are you ready? let's get started

#1 - Using The curves Automatic Color Correction Algorithm

So here we are in Photoshop and we have two images that we need to match their color together
And as you can see that our background is warm and our subject has he cool contrast and we need to match the color in this case I want to match the subject to the background 

match color in photoshop

So what you need to do is create a curves adjustment layer on top of the subject, Then hold alt or option and click between the two layers to create a clipping mask, You can also create a clipping mask by clicking on the clipping mask icon in the properties panel

And what will this do is the curves adjustment layer now is only affecting our subject and not the background

Now what you need to do is click on the menu in the curves properties panel and then select auto options, This will bring us the auto correction options dialog box, And it has four different algorithms that we can use the auto color correct images

Very important

Make sure that the layer of the curves adj layer itself is selected and not the layer mask, and you will know when you see it highlighted when you click on it, otherwise this is not going to work

Then choose enhance per Channel contrast, and click on Shadows and then sample a color from the shadows in the background image, and Photoshop will automatically apply that color to the shadows of our subject,

click okay and now click on highlights and this time sample a color from the highlight area on the background, In this case I'm going to select a bright orange color near the Sun, And now that color is applied to the highlights in our subject, 

Now click okay again and now Photoshop Will ask you If you want to make this color as the default highlight and shadows colors for curves, In this case we don't want that we only want to apply this color once so choose an option

And now as you can see our subject is matching the background, that looks a lot better than before

but if the adjustment for you was not looking the way you want it you can always go back to the auto correction options by holding alt or option and clicking on the auto button, And you can go back and edit the colors to your liking 

And if it's still not matching and doesn't look right it's probably a Luminosity problem, So if that is the case I'm going to show you how to fix that,


so to figure out if it's a Luminosity problem we need to see the image in black and white by creating a check layer and it could be as simple as creating a black and white adjustment layer


Or we can create a solid color, And then choose a neutral color it doesn't matter white black or 50% grade, You want to make sure it's neutral and you can tell By looking at the Hue and saturation values and you can see both of them are zero,

And they stay at zero even when I'm moving the color picker up and down, But when I move it to the right you can see that the saturation value has changed, So make sure it is neutral and then click okay,

And now what you need to do is change the blending mode to color, And that will convert our image to black-and-white, And this is actually more accurate than a normal black and white adjustment layer because a color blending mode will only affect color 

You can see when I turn it on and off there's no change but if I turn the black and white adjustment layer on and off it is affecting the Luminosity values 

But we can still make the black and white Adjustment layer more accurate by changing its blending mode to color and now it will only affect color
This is another way of doing it and I just wanted you to know different methods if you want to be more accurate when you’re making your adjustments.

So now we have eliminated color from our image that was Distracting us before and now we can only look at it in black and white and ask ourselves is the subject matching the background in terms light or not,

And in this case our subject is a little bit brighter than the background, So I'm going to create another curves adjustment layer Then create a clipping mask and then make the subject a little bit darker

and by doing that you can see that it's looking much better now and matching the background, here is the before and after

Now this Curves adjustment layer is also affecting color, but when you change the blending mode do luminosity,  it will only affect luminance, also I'm going to change the blending mode of the color balance as well to color

And now it's only affecting color, and now you can change color and luminosity accordingly and this is a great technique if you want to work on your color and Luminosity separately

So that's one way to match color quickly and easily, I'm going to show you now a different technique using Color check layers

#2 - Method 2 : Using a color Check layer

first of all delete the color adjustment layer and leave the luminosity adjustment layer and now we can only focus on color


So to create the color check layer we're going to need to create another solid color, And you need to drag the Color Picker to the top right corner So that the saturation and the brightness is at hundred percent, It doesn't matter if you change the Hue slider or not for now, 

and now change the blending mode to luminosity, And this will leave us With only a color map of the image and this will help us match the color of our subject to the background

we can also create a hue saturation adjustment layer on top and crank up the saturation, And that will help us see the image of a little bit better

So now let's add a color balance adjustment layer this time and clip it to our subject, And now looking at the image we can clearly see that the subject is not matching the background and has a blue color contrast, So the first thing you're going to do is Reduce blues and add Yellows,  add a little bit of greens and reds,


 And you can see now how the subject is starting to match with a background, Now go to shadows and add little bit of yellow to the Shadows a little bit of greens as well and more Red

Now in the highlights, do the same thing, this time do not make it Extreme changes, And now as you can see the color in the subject matches the background

And if I turn off all these check layers here's how the it looks like

you can also change the blending mode to color as well so it's only affecting color

All right that's it, these are the two techniques That what I wanted to show you today, These techniques will help you quickly match color between two images, Especially if you're not sure where to start to match the color

So if you have found this tutorial helpful tell as what you think in the comments bellow, also if you want to get deeper and understand the secrets of compositing checkout  The 5 Secrets To a Realistic Composite in Photoshop this article talks in depth about perspective, color matching, luminosity matching, choosing the right image in compositing and more

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