Sep 08, 2016

How to Color Tone with Apply Image in Photoshop

How to Color Tone Using Apply Image in Photoshop

Apply Image is a very powerful Tool when used correctly in Photoshop. Learn how to use Apply Image to Color highlights and shadows separately in Photoshop!

What is Apply Image?

The Apply Image command allows you to place a copy of your image on either a layer or Layer Mask using a variety of blending modes and settings.

When using Apply Image you can choose to apply a single layer or a merged copy of everything you see onto a new layer.

For instance, if you need to liquify your image and need all of your changes on a single layer, you can Apply Image using a Merged copy onto a New Layer. This is like taking a snapshot of your photo and sticking it on a New Layer!

Apply Image on a Layer or Layer Mask

Apply Image can be used on a layer or layer mask, allowing you to control the visibility of a layer.

A completely white layer mask will make the layer completely visible, and a black layer mask will make the layer invisible.

When applying an image onto a layer mask, the lighter parts of the image will be visible and the darker parts will be invisible.

You can use this method to make a layer only visible in the Highlights or shadows of an image, giving you more control over blending.

Color Tone using Apply Image

To Color Tone using Apply Image, create a Color Balance Adjustment Layer and start by Coloring the ‘Highlights’. In this example we add red and yellow to the highlights, giving them a warm feel.

You will notice that the Color Balance layer will effect the entire image. To constrain the Color Balance layer to just the highlights of the image, click on the Layer Mask and go to Image – Apply Image. Choose a Merged Copy or the Background layer, check Multiply blending mode and then apply the effect.

That layer will now be visible only in the Highlights of the image. To reduce visibility even more, simply duplicate the process.

To make a layer only visible in the Shadows – click on the layer mask and go to ‘Image – Apply Image’. Choose ‘Merged’ or ‘Background’, click on Multiply and check ‘Invert’. Now the layer will be restricted to just the Shadows. To further restrict the visibility of the layer, simply repeat the previous step.

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    Steven maguire

    Great tutorial Aaron. I’ve also learned that you can use a curves or other adjustments on the actual layers mask to fine tune it if need be, pretty cool!!

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    Aaron, that’s a great PhotoShop technique. I assume this is identical to the Split Toning control in Lightroom. I understand PS does not have a Split Toning control (other than this technique), but aside from that, are there things you can do with this technique that you cannot do with Split Toning in LR or is this merely a way to have Split Toning within PS. Thanks for your great tutorials.

  • user image

    Wow!!! I have seen Apply Image there forever. I have never seen or heard it explained. It does things I have trying to do with disappointing results. Let’s see how this works.

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    Awesome job Aaren, always wondered how that was done. Thanks for the Tutorial, now time to practice 😉

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    charles sweigart

    This is one of the most amazing tools you have shown. It will take me a little practice to get used to it but I am sure I will get tons of use from it in the future.
    Thanks a million.

  • user image

    Great tutorial! Please do the same for Calculations–I’ve never really understood what to do with it.

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    Richard Polhill

    That’s great but what benefit does it give over simply copying your background layer and pasting it into the layer masks?

    That’s the method I used for this and then you can then use adjustments to fine tune the mask and invert it as necessary. What does apply image do that’s better than this?


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    Anthony Hazlewood

    Wow Aaron – so useful – you are the Master… Thanks for the super tutorial…

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    Jason Children

    Dude!!! This is great thanks. I have never used apply image and I will definitely use it in the future. Thanks for the great content.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Color Tone with Apply Image in Photoshop

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    Kay Brewer

    Fabulous! I can now give more vintage to that golden sunlight and it even seemed to touch her skin to make it look backlit by the sun. All sorts of things address possible note. Thanks, Aaronx

  • user image

    Thank you for this tutorial. Does anyone make any difference between using this technique and using “Blend If” to apply the effects of a layer on highlights/shadows/midtones ?

  • user image

    Unbelievable Aaron! So Much Flexibility! I think we can do this thing (controlling the tones) using channels! But it’s little bit hard! But this is so much easy, so much fun!

  • user image

    Can you give us a tutorial on how to apply the fruit skin into a face image. I want it to be more realistic.

    Attached you a sample of what i was trying to explain.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Color Tone with Apply Image in Photoshop

  • user image

    Thanks for the tip. I have been doing it the long and hard way. Your cutting my time in half. Thank you Aaron! I had no clue that I could do that using Apply Image.

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    Tony Mule

    If you apply layer to copy an image is it unlike a layer stamp where you can no longer adj. Previous layers?

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    Nagesh K

    I watching ur tutorials, from long time. its pretty damn good, actually out words to say.
    I need one favor. can u please make tutorial on how to create brand identity in photoshop
    so we can show to our clients. example like a company logo…

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    Ray Grace

    That was the most comprehensive and easily understood description of Apply Image that I’ve seen. Great tutorial!

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    Jennifer Filipiak

    I love that you are more current than I actually enjoy your tutorials. Your the best!!

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    King Norre

    Thanks for this great lesson! I had no idea Apply Image was so powerful and useful. Phlearn is without a doubt the greatest PS learning website ever.

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    Maureen Welsh

    AARON, you are my favorite Photoshop instructor….YOU ROCK!!!! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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    Robin Bushnell

    There is something I’m missing when it comes to using overlays changing the background on some of my images.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Color Tone with Apply Image in Photoshop

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    Osvaldo Barbosa

    Amazing! I was wondering if color tone with apply image is better then map gradient… is it?