Example: Use a filter to color-match two composited layers

This example demonstrates how to use the Color Balance filter to match the color of a green-screened foreground image to a background plate. A green screen clip has been composited with a background layer using the Keyer filter. (For information about using the Keyer filter, see Keyer filter overview.) The background layer has already been modified with the Defocus and Contrast filters to appear moody and blurred (simulating a shallow depth of field).

Foreground green screen clip and background plate seen in Layer list

Although the key is successful, the light illuminating the woman doesn’t quite match the light that illuminates the background.

Uncorrected green screen composite seen in the Canvas

You can fix this using the Color Balance filter.

Match a foreground subject to a background image using the Color Balance filter

  1. Open the Library, click the Filters category, then click the Color Correction category to reveal the color correction filters in the stack.

  2. Drag the Color Balance filter from the stack to the Layers list, onto the topmost layer of the composite (the keyed foreground layer).

    Color Balance filter appears above of the Keyer filter in the Layers list.

  3. In the Filters Inspector, click the Highlights color well in the Color Balance controls.

    Clicking Highlights color well of Color Balance filter

    Highlights are often a good place to start when you need to match the color temperature of one image to another.

  4. In the OS X Colors window, drag from the center of the color wheel toward orange, which is the predominant color of the background layer’s lighting in this example.

    Using color wheel in Colors window to adjust color of foreground image

    As you drag in the color wheel, the color of highlights in the Canvas changes, with the color in the brightest highlights of the foreground image changing the most. Midtones are less affected, and shadows aren’t affected at all.

    Green screen composite, before and after color correction to foreground image

    Stop adjusting when the color of the foreground layer’s highlights matches the color of similar highlights in the background.

    Tip: You can also use the eyedropper tool in the Highlights color control to sample a highlight color in the background layer. (Click the eyedropper, then click a color in the background.) This can be a simpler adjustment, but it can also be tricky to sample the best color for a natural-looking match.