Friday, January 8

Color Correction Basics

The Clipping Path

Most designers, be it web or print, know how to make a clipping path. And it goes without saying that most that can create a clipping path know how to activate them. But I am writing this with the laymen in mind and sort of a refresher for those of us that may not know certain little tricks that may expedite the clipping process (We all know clipping is time consuming).

Clipping paths are among the most important and effective tools in your Photoshopping arsenal and they are your basic foundation when it comes to color correction. Lets start with an image. One, say, like this:

It helps to start with something simple and work your way to more complicated items. You want your clipping path to be as tight as possible. This is important because you need the item to stand out for whatever you are creating without looking sloppy or having rough discolored edges. It helps to work in channels. For web designers, of course, you would be checking your RGB channels and for Print you will be checking your CMYK channels. Depending on the image start by turning your channels off and checking one each at a time. See which best suits your clipping needs. For example in this image here notice the (M) channel or Magenta has more defined edges for you to grab.

The background slips away and makes it easier to see when clipping. Notice the (K) channel is too light and the image blends in too much with the background.

(Hot Keys for channels: command + 1(C/R), or 2(M/G), or 3(Y/B), or 4(K))

Using the magenta channel, (command + 2) we start our path.
Tip #1: Start by clipping the outline of your whole image. Why? Because you can copy and paste this path over and over again and cut pieces and parts out that you may not need when outlining the details of your image.

For example, I am going to separate the red top and bottom of the gumball machine from the bulb and dial eventually so its easy to change the color or adjust its highlights and shadows. With my outline already done I can cut out the clear bulb and dial by copying the original outline or path and pasting it then proceed to delete the bulb part of the outline and finish outlining the top and bottom separately. (see example below) Use your direct selection tool to highlight and delete segments of your path be sure to only select one segment at a time always re-highlight your segment before you select another segment of path to delete or you will delete the whole thing. Proceed to finish the path off with the new part you are outlining.

Tip: NAME YOUR PATHS! (i.e. Outline, Top, Bottom, Dial, Detail, Highlight) if you do not you will not be able to copy and paste or you may run the risk of creating new paths over older ones.

Well that is it with this segment of Color Correction Basics. Tune in next week for the next installment: Highlights, shadows, and the Channel mixer!



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