There are a million ways to create cinematic looking colour grades, but this has to be the quickest I’ve seen. All it requires is a single colour adjustment layer set to exclusion blend mode. In this two minute video from Phlearn, we see just how quick and easy it is to do.
As I said, it really is quick and simple.
- Make a solid colour adjustment layer
- Set the layer blending mode to “Exclusion”
- Adjust opacity to taste
Aaron suggests using a cooler colour for the colour adjustment layer. Then when you change the layer blending mode to Exclusion, it will add that colour to the shadows and subtract it from the highlights, providing a complementary colour scheme. It’s a bit overpowering when you first switch the adjustment layer, so just adjust the layer opacity until you get something you’re happy with.
You will want to start off with an image that’s correct in its original colours. So, you’ll want to make sure your white balance is good, or it’s not going to look great. And if you make presets for the ones you like, they’ll all need that consistent “correct” starting point.
This effect can also work on video, too. I easily managed to replicate it in Premiere Pro CS6 using a simple Solid Composite effect on an adjustment layer over my footage, then dialled back the opacity until I got something I was happy with. You might also need to add a curves adjustment to bring back some of the contrast.
So, that’s it, a quick and easy way to grade and tone your image with complementary colours.