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Advanced Tutorial: How to Color Grade Photos Using Luminosity Masks


When you look at the work of a professional, award-winning beauty photographer like Zoë Noble, it just has that something extra. If you’re wondering what that “something” is, this tutorial Noble created reveals one of the most important ingredients: color grading.

The term “color grading” is usually applied to film, but it’s by no means limited to motion picture. As we’ve seen before, understanding and applying color theory is a crucial part of a photographer’s education.

In the case of this tutorial, Noble will show you how she used luminosity masks to fine tune the colors in one of her award-winning beauty photographs. Using this technique, she takes this (retouched, but not color graded) before image:

And transforms it into this polished final shot:

The best thing about this 10-minute tutorial is that it makes an advanced post-processing technique available to beginners.

Noble has created a free-to-download-and-use (no email required) Photoshop action that will create a full complement of luminosity masks for you. Then, she shows you how to use those selections to fine-tune the colors in an image and add that “something” extra to your own portraits.

Check out the full tutorial up top to see Noble’s color grading workflow in action. And then, if you like what you see, you can explore her work through her website or by following her on Facebook and Instagram.

Image credits: Photographs by Zoë Noble and used with permission.