Achieving Rich Color and Faded Tones Using PhotoEditor for Android
Featured Apps: PhotoEditor
Topics Covered: Color Curves, Post Processing
When Instagram launched for Android, I quickly learned that most of the iphone apps I was seeing used weren’t available in the Android market. There was one iOS app in particular that was delivering a fast and easy way to achieve rich faded tones. That app was VSCO Cam. I was immediately on a mission to replicate the faded tones and ease of use that this app offered iPhone users. Today we’ll learn how to use PhotoEditor’s “color curves” function to get these elusive tones (and more) with a few easy steps.
This tutorial focuses on turning PhotoEditor’s color curves function into a quick and effective tool to get rich faded color tones in your images.
Some devices may require saving images strictly as .png to avoid artifacts appearing after saving as .jpeg.
Harnessing the Editing Power of Color Curves
The first step to harnessing the editing power of Color Curves, is to understand how exactly it’s affecting your image. When you open color curves you will see an x axis, y axis, and a line going from bottom left to top right containing moveable points on it. This is a graph of the lightness/darkness levels of the colors in your image (x axis) and the full scale of dark to light color shades (y axis). The bottom left point on the line represents where your image is black and then goes all the way to the white at the top right point. As you manipulate these points you are, in fact, changing the lightness/darkness of the original color levels in your shot as well as altering the contrast between these colors. **I should note that you must leave the “RGB” button (located under the image) on for this process**
As you see in my unedited shot below, the exposure level of the shot left the people and the window frame very dark, but with some visible detail. We are going to take all of those dark, noisy details and make them into a faded silhouette with one simple move.
To do this, you simply grab the bottom left point (the 1st grey circle) and bring it up to be just slightly lower than the next point on the line. Instantly, the image takes on a completely different feel.
To further the effect, you can bring the next point on the line down a bit and make it almost level with the first point we moved. You may also notice that this darkened the details of the buildings! **The “science” behind this is that you are removing the contrast between a very specific range of colors and leaving the other colors as they were**.
Next, we’ll fade the lighter areas of the image by moving the top right point down a small amount similar to what we did with the first step. Those 3 quick steps have now completely changed the feel and maintained the integrity of the image.
Taking Color Curves a Step Further
I feel that this curve is a very good one for a wide variety of shots, so let’s save it so we only have ONE STEP next time you use this function! Simply click the preset button, then “add preset”, choose your name, and now you have a preset “filter” much like that of VSCO. See Androiders, it was that easy : )
One major advantage that the color curves offers, is that it can be as simple or intricate as you would like it to be. Now that you have the basics down, we can go more in depth… You won’t always have the same light/dark scenario occurring in each image, so we can develop additional presets for different situations. For example, in this image of a backlit greenhouse (image 2a), the sky is completely overexposed and the rich sunlight coming through the greenhouse needs more contrast.
But we don’t want to lose the building’s details in the process. We can easily achieve this with color curves. First step will be to fade the bright sky by bringing the top right point down a good amount, almost level with the point below.
Now we can focus on the orange light coming through the plastic of the greenhouse. Because this is in the mid-range of the light/dark scale, we will have to use a point midway on the adjustment line to affect this specific range of colors in the image. Pulling down on the center point makes the sunlight come alive in the image without changing any other area.
Lastly, we can move the two end points as we did in the first image to fade the dark areas. Again we can save this preset and name it for another “one step” edit choice next time you’re using color curves on an similar image (or even try it on a completely different looking image).
Manipulating Black and White Images
Another quick example of a great way to utilize this color curves feature, is for manipulating black and white images. This can be a great tool to get your blacks super inky, your whites brilliant, or anything other direction you want the tones to go. **Note: your first step should be to use the “color” function of PhotoEditor to bring the saturation down to zero before bringing it into color curves** For this black and white shot below I started with the first preset we made above and then adjusted a few of the points to my liking.
You can see the huge difference I made to the image in a matter of seconds.
Again I saved this preset for future use on another black and white image. The more you use this method, the quicker you will be able to get exactly the result you want without a second thought. After applying a color curves to an image I generally take it into an app such as PicsayPro to polish off the image. This app has high quality adjustment capabilities including contrast, saturation, temperature, etc. I often use PhotoEditor followed by PicsayPro as a simple and very effective combo for my edits.
To sum up this tutorial, let’s review what we learned. Color curves is a powerful and fast tool for bring out the best in your color tone. You now have the ability to achieve complete control over your color tone by selectively affecting areas of contrast, maintaining detail in some parts, and fading others. Furthermore, you can then save your favorite presets and apply them with a single tap on your screen. Whether you are using this as your only edit or prepping multiple images for a detailed composite, this method can be an invaluable tool in your editing process.
Stay tuned for more Droidedit Darkrooms throughout December including Android editing topics such as Selective editing using Picsay Pro, Monochrome editing for Android, and a comprehensive tutorial on Picshop for Android.
Tag your color curve edits #AMPtDarkroom_ColorCurves
- Joshua St. Germain @PavingApril
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