Article written using Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 with Windows 7
What are Actions? Actions are scripts that link a series of steps together to save us time. When we “run” an action, we are telling the script to go through all the steps for us, leaving us with just a finished product. Some actions require you to adjust settings part-way through to customize the effect, but others simply run to completion.
The action I have chosen to share today is probably my very favorite. It is Brandy Murry’s ScrapSimple Tools – Actions: Color Isolation 8501. Many of you will already have it, and others will have looked at it and thought it looked great but weren’t quite sure how to best use it.
The color isolation action does exactly what you would expect it to do. It selects your chosen color from your photo and changes all non-selected colors to black and white. This is fun and gives a great effect, but then what? You don’t always want a photo with a pop of color.
One of my favorite ways to use the color isolation action is to use it to improve my photos. I have chosen to work with photos of my son, Callan, when he was in kindergarten as they are color-rich and contain lots of color variation.
In my first example, the colors behind Callan are wonderful for a page about kindergarten. However, it is a little distracting if I am trying to tell a story and want to keep the page simple. I tried the turquoise/magenta selection to keep the color in his hat and tie in the blue in the background, but it detracted from his neutral clothing, so I tried red/green/yellow which worked perfectly. It kept the photo warm and focused on his sweet face.
Looking at my second example, you can see that there is a lot of blue from his clothing but also a lot of yellow from the wood chips.
Personally, I found the wood chips distracting so I wanted to correct them. There are various ways to do this but I find it quick and easy to try color isolation options first. Running through the choices, I found turquoise/magenta option works best as it fades out the yellow while keeping Callan’s skin tone and blue clothes. There is a bit of distracting red up at the top of the photo which I could crop out, but instead I chose to use my Rectangular Marquee Tool and make a selection and using the yellow/green option to edit only this selection. After merging, my photo is now more focused on Callan and less on the distracting color.
In my final example, you can see that there isn’t too much color competition, but I really want to make Callan the only focus.
I tried yellow/green but his skin tone was all wrong. I tried red/purple but his clothes were all wrong. What I ended up doing was making two additional layers and turning the top one to yellow/green and the lower one to red/purple. Then using a soft brush, I erased away the face and hands from the top layer to reveal the perfectly colored copies below. Merging these layers left me with a wonderful hybrid of muted color that keeps Callan as the main focus.
I hope you have enjoyed these quick and easy ways to give your photos more focus and less distraction. Of course, I could have cropped but sometimes you don’t want to lose the background. Brandy’s Color Isolation Action is perfect in this situation. It has six different options to choose from, and like me, if one is not enough, edit a selection or erase an area until your photo packs the punch you want!
I would love to see how you use this simple but versatile action to enhance your photos and digital scrapbook layouts. Post them to the Scrap Girls Gallery so we can admire your handiwork and your great eye for color!
Digital scrapbooking products used:
Commercial license versions of ScrapSimple Tools – Actions: Color Isolation 8501,ScrapSimple Alpha Templates: Denim Tab Labels, ScrapSimple Tools – Styles: Denim Tab Label Stitching Biggie 13001 and ScrapSimple Paper Templates: Denimare also available.
Tutorial written by Jody West