Video Game Style Tones in Photoshop CC

In this Photoshop CC tutorial we’re going to create an intense Photoshop action that will edit the color and tone of any image and give you some really cool, epic, moody color and tone for your images and tends to make them look like they’re almost right out of a video game. This is such a cool adjustment effect for images that you’re looking to use in some commercial applications, high end composites, or just having fun with your landscape and portrait photography in Photoshop.

Download the finished action right here!

Download a few of the free stock photos that I used in this tutorial to follow along exactly as I have:
https://unsplash.com/photos/_SmZSuZwkHg
https://unsplash.com/photos/jpMyAqHat7g
https://unsplash.com/photos/ycBgDfqqcHw

1. Create Our Moody “Under-Layer”

epic-video-games-tones-photoshop-tutorial-01

Open the image to which you want to add this video game style tone effect and go Image>Calculations. We want to set the Channel in both the “Source 1” and “Source 2” to the “Red” channel. We also want to blend these channels using the Multiply blend mode and-VERY IMPORTANT-we want the Result to be set to “New Document”. This will output a brand new document from this Calculations channel merger.

2. Convert New Image to RGB

epic-video-games-tones-photoshop-tutorial-02

This new document will be a Multichannel image so we need to go Image>Mode>Grayscale and then go Image>Mode>RGB Color. We can now drag this image over to our original image.

3. Place Black and White Below Color

epic-video-games-tones-photoshop-tutorial-03

Drag that black and white image over to the color image document (or go Select>All and copy/paste it over to your image) and drag it beneath our color layer.

4. Reduce Opacity

epic-video-games-tones-photoshop-tutorial-04

Reduce the color image layer to 50% opacity to let the black and white layer begin mixing with this colored layer.

5. Levels Adjustment Layer Between (!!!) Those Layers

epic-video-games-tones-photoshop-tutorial-05

Select the black and white layer and then go Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels and when the properties panel opens edit your Levels as I have in my screenshot above. Here is the breakdown by channel using the channel drop down menu in the Levels dialog box:

RGB: Input (top) sliders: 15-1.00-240 // Output sliders: 35-255
Red: 20-1.40-225 // 0-255
Green: 0-1.15-255 // 0-255
Blue: 10-1.00-255 // 0-220

6. Add a Little Contrast with Curves

epic-video-games-tones-photoshop-tutorial-06

Go Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves and drag a slight “S” curve into the curve line to boost the contrast a little as I have in my screenshot above.

7. Make an Action!

epic-video-games-tones-photoshop-tutorial-07

To make a robust action out of these commands, watch the video at the top of this page and take a deeper dive into using all these commands and some cool tricks for conditional events in actions and really customizing actions to fit your needs. You can download the action right here if you just want the effect right now!

Be sure to watch the video at the top of this article tutorial for even more detail!

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  24. says: Kate Gross

    I like your photo manipulations, cool shadow work! I tried to make also but my experience was failed, for me retouching it’s very difficult, I send my photos to online photo retouching services like FixThePhoto

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