Match Color has always been the best way to match the color and tone of different layers in Photoshop, for a believable composition. However, it appears that the AI-powered Harmonization Neural filter is set up to undo this outdated workflow. (Learn the matching color here).
For a simple tutorial on using the format, use this tutorial.
While talking recently to the Adobe Photoshop engineering team, I discovered something I didn’t know about the format filter and immediately started experimenting. This piece of knowledge will help get better and more predictable results. I want to pass on this important knowledge to you. First I will explain this discovery and then I will show you a practical way to use this.
cut to chase; Where layers are placed over the background affects the way the ai calculates new hues. It only counts the visible areas. Let me quickly clarify, then we’ll work on a picture. All this can be easily seen in the short video above
How does Photoshop Harmonization work
For clarity, I created a 2 color gradient for the background.
Create a new layer and fill it with neutral gray. The position is on the left. Note that this covers most of the red, but not all of it.
Filter > Neural Filters > Harmony.
Choose the color gradient for the background, and note the transitions from gray to reddish green.
Lets link this layer and add another gray square. This time almost all of the green is hiding.
Applying the format results in a red tone.
You can clearly see that we get very different results based on the positioning.
Well, in a practical use case. Knowledge is useless is useless.
More accurate color matching between layers in Photoshop
Here is a quick clip of a musician set atop San Francisco Street. A woman is warmer and saturated, as well as a higher contrast from the background. We need to match colors and tones, so that the image does not look fake.
Choose Filter > Neural Filters
Turn on the alignment. For the background, choose a street image.
Watch the result, it’s better, but it’s not as good as it could be.
This time place the woman to the left of the image.
This covers some of the red on the building, but more importantly, it allows more of the surrounding color to show up on the right.
Run the filter again and this time with a different result. Let’s examine.
side by side. #1 on the left is the first test. #2 is the second test, as it was covering the building when we turned on the filter. #2 is the most accurate result, let me prove it.
Open the Dashboard window > Information
Let’s get the white balance reading from the background.
Choose the dropper. When you pass the white cross you can see the red, green, and blue colors all equal 230. This is the desired white value.
Let’s take a sample from the first example.
They look like 247, 247, and 252, which gives them a slight bias towards blue, but overall a higher background value.
When we sample from the second example, where we have covered most of the red building with the top layer, the results are in 230 seconds, which is very close to the background.
The takeaway from all this is that you can improve results by strategically placing your layer before turning on the filter. Instead of matching with your layer in the final position, use it to cover areas that might negatively affect the matching.
Now you won’t have to do this on every photo. But the next time you get a poorer-than-expected result from coordination, you have a strategy.
I hope you found this article helpful.
see you next week
As always, great to have you here at the cafe!
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