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Match the color balance of two images with a single click

Added on Saturday 16th of May 2009 12:47 am EST
 

Application:

Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

Mismatched colors between images in a series can render your project unprofessional. We’ll show you how to use the Match Color command to create consistent color and tonal range among multiple images to look uniform.

To produce consistent color among multiple images, we’ll:

Show you how to select two separate images for the source and target.

Use our source image to color-correct the target image.

Select an area in our source image and apply the color values within that area to a selected area in our target image.

One thing you want to look out for in any project—whether it’s product shots for a client’s website or a family scrapbook album—is color consistency between images. A color imbalance, including tonal fluctuations and colorcasts, in even just one image among a series of images, can spoil the entire project. The good news is that Photoshop’s Match Color command makes color-matching multiple images a breeze.

From the source

There are two reasons why you might use the Match Color command. One is to remove a colorcast from your images; the other is to make the colors in a series of images look consistent. Both tasks require source and target images. The source provides the basis for color that Photoshop applies to the target. The source and target can be a single image on separate layers or separate images. You can also select a specific area in the source and apply the color values in that area to a selected area in the target.

Set your target

When matching colors from one image to another, you first have to open the source image along with the image or images you want to adjust. To begin, open two RGB images in Photoshop. To follow along with our example, download the file matchcolor.zip from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the files image1.tif and image2.tif, launch Photoshop, and open the files. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)

Go forth and match color

With both the source and target images open, you’ll first note the values for the highlight areas in the source image. Then you’ll match the colors with the Match Color command.

To match image colors:

1. Select the source image, or image2.tif if you're using our example.

2. Locate an area that represents a highlight, such as in the white strap of clothing the woman in our image is wearing.

3. Place your mouse pointer over this area and note the RGB color values in the Info palette (Window > Info).

4. Write down these values; you’ll need them later!

5. Select the image you want to adjust, known as the target, to make it the active document. If you’re using our sample images, select image1.tif.

6. Choose Image > Adjustments > Match Color to display the Match Color dialog box.

7. Go to the Image Statistics panel and select your source image (image2.tif) from the Source pop-up menu. If you like the results, click OK to apply the change, and you’re done.

Apply color correction

Most likely, your target image now requires a little color correction, as is the case with our target image. You can easily take care of this problem by adjusting the following settings in the Image Options pane:

Luminance. This setting controls color brightness. Move this slider to the left to darken the image or to the right to lighten it.

Color Intensity. This setting controls color range. Move the slider to the left to reduce the range of color in the image or to the right to increase and intensify the range of color.

Fade. This setting controls the intensity of the two preceding settings. You can lessen the amount of color correction by moving the slider to the right.

Neutralize. Select this check box to automatically remove a colorcast.

If you’re working with our images, you can use the settings shown...