A Touch Of Color

A Touch of Color works very well in photofinishing. By lowering an image to just hints of the original hues or leaving just traces of the original full colors, graphic artists  have  attractive design alternatives. This post will look at a range of color hints and touches available to photofinishers.

Full Color Traces

It would appear that full traces would be easy to do – and from a photofinishing viewpoint they are. Just mask off the region of full color, and desaturate or convert to black and white everywhere else. But some times the full color is just too powerful as in this nude model from Erosberry:
touchnu7bPerhaps muting the red flower tone   would restore the balance or preserving the red of the model’s lips. But nothing seemed to work

In contrast, the color traces in this photo from the 2015 City of Toronto Holiday Season of Lights event worked very well. the full colour hints draw the viewrs eyes into the image while adding a sense of the evenings spectacle and drama.

touchall1The fireworks around Toronto’s Viijo Revell designed City Hall is a spectacular backdrop to the Winter Lights Show.

Some might argue that  red  is just too strong for touch of color images. However, the following shot also from the Winter Season of Lights festival would appear to belie that idea.
touchall2But leaving traces of full color that works well is hard to do as seen in the photo below from the Allan Gardens 2016 Easter Show:
touchf1Again, like the nude model, the full color lily pistils  even when modified by traces of color in the hyacinthis is just out of balance. touchf5Another try at full flower hues again from the Toronto Allan Gardens show is a bit more successful. The irony is that making the colors more saturated improved the overall look of the daffodills/. So be forewarned, applying a touch of full color is a photofinishing art.

Partial Color Traces

So the logical approach is to leave only partial color traces by desaturating the color spots left on the image. Here is another Allan Gardens floral image in which all of the color hints have been desaturated:touchf2
There is an element of surprise as the three muted hyacinth colors guide the eyes scanning of the photo. The stamen and pistils strong yellow color has been muted so  the lily colors do not dominate. This helps bring out the pure white of the other lilies.

In the next use of  partial colors we concentrate on the center and then work out – the image is from Allan Gardens rival Edwards Gardens::
touchf7Here the idea is  to suggest hot floral embers at the core of the bloom.

But  partial colors do  not always work as seen below:

touchf3There appears to be no center of attention to catch the eye.

Better is to use complete partial color as in this Erosberry.com model by way of Body in Mind. Here all the colors are muted to partial transparency so the skin and hair suggest the natural hues while the rest of the image is a Black+White adjustment in Photoshop with a slight cyan tint.

In addition some wild and wooly graffiti from the Janes Walk in Toronto also profits from using partial colors:
As you can see the original is quite colorful; but in the BW+Partial Color even the shades had to muted, giving the image a droll look while the B+W reveals neat drawing details.

But as we have already seen its almost a natural to use tints, textures and other changes to add emphasis to the Touches of Color.So lets look at how that works out.

Tints, Textures and Blends for a Touch of Color

Tints are a natural when doing a touch of color. Take a look at the same ErosBerry model this time sepia tinted and hiding behind a full color floral lei:touchnu6Here the sepia tone tint works well with rich orange marmelade floral which the model seems to be hiding behind.

And for a graffiti shot, again using a gray-greeen tint combines well with the full color touches of color giving the garage side mural a slightly whimisical style
This is a series of novel graffiti found on Dundas just West over the bridge from  Lansdowne.

The next example is a triple hitter using a background texture change with full body partial tinting plus a body tone blend  to add subtle refinement to a Body in Mind model:
touchnu5The background is courtesy of Site Origins Background Generator while use of special spray brushes softens the tone around the  shoulder and face. But the tinting rolls back deeper skin tones which can be selectively dodge and burned.

In contrast adjustment to this Dundas Street graffiti are bold:
touchgraf3First the tinting uses a concentrated turquoise while the touches of color are anything but touches – rather bold bright saturated eye colorings. Finally the background tinting has been muted while the right eyebrow and tip of the nose have been desaturated. And in another version the tinting color is changed and the touches of color are more partial. Again, this is an image that conjures up artistic fun.

In a similar fashion another Body in Mind nude model inspires a gamut of color touches:

Here there is a full image light tawny tint and two partial touches of color to the boxing glove and the model’s lips. But that didn’t quite work out so the a portion of the glove’s color was exaggerated giving more “punch”. Finally the model’s left breast is slightly out of focus but sharpening just made things worse..

Now a final look at more than a touch of color:
touchf2tileHere again is an Allan Gardens image. What was desired was to bring out the different areas of color. So the drill was 1)mask-off thre touch of color points; 2)apply a strong green tint to the remaining areas [including strong brightening at the edges of the tint. last was to resaturate the touch of colors. The result is not quite a disaster, but certainly not the desired result. So the next step was stay full color and apply photofinishings there:touchf8The result is more compelling than the black and white but not quite there yet.


A Touch of Color works on the Less is More theory. And using touches of color on black and white or tints can work. But the design pattern is not fool proof and can go awry as seen above. But most interesting is that Less can often mean More work for photofinishers.


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