When compositing, saturation is one of the more difficult things to really judge with the naked eye. It can be difficult to get things just right, and we can waste hours tweaking things until we get something we’re happy with. Sometimes, we just need a little assistance.
That’s where this quick Photoshop tip from digital artist Antti Karppinen comes in. With the two images on your canvas, all you need is a single adjustment layer to show you the saturation levels throughout your image. Then you can adjust with confidence, knowing that they’ll match perfectly.
Antti recently showed us how to match colour tones in composites quickly and easily, and this is a natural progression. Once you’ve got your colour right, saturation is the next thing to sort. If you’ve got a background and foreground with wildly different saturation, it’s going to look quite obvious. But the procedure is very simple.
First, make a Selective Colour adjustment layer. Then go through each of the six colour channels (Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta), dropping the “Black” level to 0.
Then go through the white, neutral and black “colours”, and drag the black slider all the way up to +100. Now you’re seeing just the saturation levels for every pixel in the image, expressed as a shade of grey between pure black (0 saturation) and pure white (total saturation).
With this layer on top, you can now adjust your layers below until they match in brightness (which is really saturation). Once everything looks close, turn off the top Selective Colour adjustment layer to reveal the final result.
If you want to make life easy for yourself, instead of having to make all these adjustments each time you make a new image, you can always save it as an adjustment layer preset. Then whenever you’re working on a new composite, just add the Selective Colour adjustment layer, and pick the preset from the dropdown list.