One of the fun things to do in Photoshop is to change the color of a photo to influence the mood and give it some flavor. Using the adjustments layers is one of the best ways to doing this and the Curves Adjustment is King when it comes to adjusting color in Photoshop.
Were going to start with this photo which is a bit flat and can use some color to give it a little mood so were going to add some color to give it more of a sunset look to it. To start were going to use a Curves Adjustment layer which can be found at the bottom of the Layers panel with the black and white circle icon.
Now that we have a new Curves Adjustment layer added to the photo we need to make some adjustments to add the color.
Because this photo is a bit flat I'm going to open up the highlights and mid-tones by adding a point in those areas and moving them up to brighten it a bit and add a control point in the shadows to keep the darks crisp.
Now that the tone is where I want it I'm going to add color to the image by going in to the individual RGB controls which are found in the second drop down menu just above the graph.
Because I'm going to be adding some orange for a sunset color I need to mix primarily Yellow with a bit of Magenta to get that effect. If you need help mixing the colors download the RGB Color Cheat Sheet to help guide you through the color adjustments.
Because the Blue channel controls the Blue and Yellow I'll be adjusting that channel first. We could add a point to the middle of the Blue curve and pull it down to add Yellow but because of the way the curve adjustment works this would add Yellow primarily to the mid-tones and less to the shadows and highlights.
I want to add more of the color in the highlights to add more of the color to the highlights in the clouds so instead of adding a point in the middle of the curve were going to pull the end point controlling the White Point down which will add more Yellow to the bright areas and taper off as it gets towards the shadows. Adjust the amount you pull this point down to however warm you want the photo to look.
Now that we have the Yellow added we need to add a hint of Magenta to get the golden sunset color we want. So were going to go to the Green channel next and pull the White Point of the Green channel down a bit to get the orange hue we want.
Now we have the orange added to the photo giving it a bit more mood and the color gives it more of a sunset look. You can go back and re-adjust the Blue and Green channels until you get the desired look. You can mix your own amounts of the Yellow and Magenta to get the hue you want and each photo might require more or less depending on the color of the photo your starting out with.
This is also a great technique for warming up a portrait adding a bit of warmth to the skin tones. If you do use it on a portrait, be sure to use a mask so you don't warm up the teeth & eyes.
Be sure to share your pictures using this technique in the all new Pixel Training Flickr Group. Also make sure to download the RGB Color Cheat Sheet and keep it next to your desk to help guide you through color adjustments in Photoshop.