Colour Balancing Montages

Example of using gradient maps, overlay layers, etc to harmonise colours

Here’s a montage of two images:

The combined image having masked the figure doesn’t quite work as the chap’s face is rather bright and pink.

Placing a Gradient Map (Black to White) above and reducing the opacity to 40% reduces the colour overall and makes the two images blend more harmoniously.

Here’s a cut out I created of a dancer shot in the Lake District. I added the extra fabric.

I then wanted to look at placing different backgrounds behind. Background 1 was OK – tones work OK.

Same for Background 2.

Background 3 is less convincing...

The warmer tones in Kate and the fabric clash with the blue tones of the background. Adding a solid blue layer at the top of the stack (Blend mode set to Colour), reducing the opacity to 30% and masking Kate’s body, makes the fabric take on a blue hue more in keeping with the background. I’ve also allowed it to colourise the foreground rocks too.

If I’d wanted to just colour the fabric I could have clipped the Colour layer to the cut out group or masked the foreground.

Did the same with background 4, this time with higher opacity (40% and the sunset on the horizon also masked in addition to Kate to give the impression that the warm tone there is responsible for the warmer flesh tone.

Continuing the theme, I used a warm sunset as a background. The grey fabric doesn’t make sense and jarred until I added a new layer (using a colour picker to match a tone from the background), clipped the layer to the cut out and masked so it just applied to the fabric. This time the blend mode was Overlay at 25% opacity.

Another example. Combining a cut out of Ziggy, with a painting in a stately home.

I duplicated the background, flipped, altered the blend mode to Overlay, reduced the opacity and added a vignette to get this background.

The background was predominantly oranges and the wine colour of Ziggy’s outfit clashed.

Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to the group containing Ziggy and her retouching (but not the background) at about 40% opacity improved the colour harmony.

Taking a colour swatch from the background and applying to the entire image (Ziggy and background) at 50% opacity (Normal blend mode) – improved the colour harmony, but left Ziggy looking very washed out.

So final adjustment was to add a Channel Mix adjustment layer to the Ziggy cut out, to restore some warmth to her skin tones. As before, I reduced the opacity on the layer to enable some of the original to come through.