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Adding a Red Tint in Adobe Photoshop to Create a Dark Self-portrait

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To create this self-portrait, I simply used the light from an overhead fixture from the room I was in. I didn't want to have to crank my ISO too high, so I used a pretty slow shutter speed, which ended up working perfectly fine. Straight out of camera the picture was already moody and dark like I wanted, but I decided to give it this interesting red tint.

Before / After:


1- Color fill adjustment

The effect is achieved very simply with a color fill adjustment:

  • Create a Color Fill adjustment layer.
  • Set the color to pure red: #FF0000.
  • Now change the blending mode of the adjustment layer to Darken.

The only other adjustments I did to this picture are lighting up the forearms and darkening down the stomach a bit with curves:

2- Dodging the forearms

  • Select the background layer, so that the curves adjustment layer you’ll create will be under the color fill adjustment in the layer order.
  • Create a Curves adjustment layer.
  • Bring the middle of the curve slightly upwards, to lighten up the whole image.
  • Click to select the mask associated with that Curves adjustment layer, hit Cmd+I Ctrl+I to invert the colors and effectively make the mask hide the whole effect.
  • Using a Soft White Brush B, paint around the forearms to brighten them up and bring back the details.

3- Burning the stomach

  • Now for the stomach, create another Curves adjustment layer.
  • Bring the middle of the curve slightly downwards, to darken up the whole image.
  • Now click to select the mask associated with that adjustment layer, hit Cmd+I Ctrl+I to invert the colors and effectively make the mask hide the whole effect.
  • Using a Soft White Brush B, paint around the stomach to darken it up.
  • Here I also applied a Gaussian Blur filter to the mask, just to make the effect fade out more subtly. I applied a Gaussian blur with a radius of 190px, but this will vary depending on the size of your image.

Et voilà! A dark image with a stylish red tint with just a simple red color fill adjustment.

🌄 Image info:

  • Camera: Nikon D300s
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • Shutter speed: 1/25s
  • Aperture: f/4.5
  • ISO: 500

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