Tutorial: Custom Color Pop (and an action!)

This is a fun tutorial that will help you “paint on” vibrant color onto your photos! This is so useful, especially when you only want color in certain places on your photo (eg. avoiding people). I use this technique on SO MANY photos. And it’s so simple. You’ll be amazed 🙂

1. Open your photo that you want to add some color pop to. Now you want to add a Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Channel Mixer) or just click on the little tri-color icon that I have circled.

2. In the little drop down box where it says “Output Channel” there will be three different colors listed: Red, Green, and Blue. Below that drop down box, you’ll see some sliders in those same colors. Select the Red channel in the drop down box, then in the box above the red slider, enter an amount over 100. I chose 140%. The number doesn’t matter much – the higher the number, the more saturated the color. Now, the total percentage will still have to add up to 100%, so you’ll have to do some math (yech!). Since I raised the red percentage to 140%, I have to subtract 20% from each of the other 2 sliders. Just enter “-20” in each of the other boxes, like I did below.

3. Now you will repeat the above step with the other 2 color channels. So, select “Green” from the Output Channel, and repeat the same thing as above.

4. And again with the Blue channel!

5. Now your image will be SUPER saturated. This might be okay on a simple landscape photo, but usually it’s a little too bright. Besides, we want to be able to “paint” on our color! So, we’ll add a layer mask by clicking on the little box with the circle inside (like I have circled in the photo below). That will add a white box next to the channel mixer layer.

6. Nothing happened to your photo! It’s still all colorful! No worries. That’s because when a layer mask is white, it is showing everything underneath. But, when we fill it with black, it will HIDE our vibrant colors. So, click “Ctrl+I” and it will change the white box to black. Now your photo should look how it did before the color pop.

7. Change your foreground color to white, choose your paintbrush tool, and simply “paint” over the spots on your photo where you want to add some color pop. If you accidentally paint over a spot that you didn’t want the extra color, just change your foreground color to black and paint back over the spot you made the mistake on. Good? Good! Before you’re done, though, remember you can play with the opacity of the channel mixer layer on your layers palette to get the color JUST how you want it! Play!

This was my drab BEFORE:

And my VIBRANT after!

And, just for you – I have recorded these steps into an action for you! Just click below and download it. I do not know if this works in Elements – you’ll have to let me know.

Bobbi’s Custom Color Pop.atn


3 thoughts on “Tutorial: Custom Color Pop (and an action!)

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