Catalog > Free Tutorials > How to Match Colors Automatically in Photoshop
  • How to Match Colors for Compositing in Photoshop

  • by Aaron Nace
    August 23, 2018
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Download Sample Images

Click the link below to download the sample images and follow along with this tutorial.


Tutorial Description

Some of the most challenging and satisfying work in Photoshop comes when we need to composite images together and make them appear like each piece existed in the same environment. This sort of problem solving often requires us to match color, luminosity, and perspective across multiple photos. Today, we show you how you to tackle one of those steps faster and easier than ever before. Watch and learn how to automatically match colors in Photoshop!

Matching Color for Composites

Like many tasks in Photoshop, there are countless ways to match colors across multiple images. Some methods are manual, requiring multiple steps and multiple tools. While the manual route is usually the most precise, it also takes the most time. For those compositing jobs where you feel like the color matching process should be quicker and easier, Photoshop’s Match Color tool might be your answer!

Non-Destructive Workflow

Before we go any further, there’s a very important note about using the Match Color option. Any changes you apply to a layer using this tool are permanent. We always preach the importance of a non-destructive workflow, meaning every edit, every change, and every adjustment should be able to be turned off, modified, or removed easily without ever affecting our original photos. In this particular case, be sure to duplicate the layer or layers that you’re adjusting with Match Color. This allows you to make all the changes that you need while still having the ability to get back to the originals.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Matching Color for Composites

We’re working with two images: a mountain landscape that will act as the background and a subject that we will be placing onto that background. You’ll notice that we’ve already gone through the process of selecting and removing the original background from the image with our subject. Cutting out objects and removing backgrounds is a tutorial in itself, which is why we have several great PRO classes that teach just that. If you’re looking to master these skills as well, be sure to watch How to Change & Remove Backgrounds in Photoshop!

With our subject cut out and ready to go, we just need to place him over our background layer and adjust until we have a composition that we’re happy with. Once our layers are positioned (and we can always adjust this later), we want to duplicate the layer with the subject so that we can keep an original in the event we want to start from scratch.

Now we can begin the color matching process by going to the Image menu, hovering over Adjustments, and clicking on Match Color.

Using the available sliders, we can dial in the look that we want. Be sure to experiment with how far you can push the Match Color tool. This will help give you an idea of what jobs it will work for and what jobs might require a more manual approach.

Use the Right Tool

Keep in mind that any automated process can sometimes yield unexpected or unwanted results. It might take a few attempts and it occasionally might not be the correct tool for the task you’re trying to perform. Always be ready to make changes or try something different if and when you get stuck!

Compositing is fun, challenging, and a great way to test your creative problem solving skills! Add this tool to your repertoire and always keep looking for more. The more options you have, the more freedom and flexibility you will have to help your creative vision come to life.

Thanks for watching!

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