You can learn a lot from experimenting with manual adjustments and individual filters in a program like Color Efex Pro, but you can learn even more by dismantling a preset to see how its individual parts work together.
This walkthrough shows the tools and adjustments that make up the ‘Even on a Cloudy Day’ preset (called a ‘Recipe’ in Color Efex Pro). It’s one of the new En Vogue presets introduced in DxO Nik Collection 2 (we’re now up to DxO Nik Collection 3).
You’ll see the En Vogue Recipes in the left sidebar in the main screenshot, above, and over in the right sidebar you’ll see the individual filters and adjustments used to create that look.
This Recipe uses four different filters, so let’s take a look at each one in turn to see how it works with the rest. At the same time, we can learn a little more about these filters and how me might be able to use them individually in the future.
How the Color Efex Pro ‘Even on a Cloudy Day’ Recipe works
These are the filters and settings used to create this Recipe
- Old Photo filter
The Color Efex Pro Old Photo filter is very interesting. It simulates old black and white and color images, and you can choose the effect from the drop down menu (highlighted) in the panel (also highlighted). Even more interesting is the way it’s been used here. Style no. 1 on the menu, used here, would normally produce a gritty old-style sepia image in black and white. So why hasn’t it here? If you expand the Control Points section in this and other filter panels you’ll see an Opacity slider. This isn’t for any single Control Point, but for the whole panel. So the designer of this preset used the Old Photo filter at just 17% opacity to apply a hint of that sepia monochromatic look but keep most of the color in the image. Very clever.
- Cross Processing filter
In theory, the Cross Processing filter simulates the effect of processing color film in different ‘wrong’ chemicals. In practice, you can use it to try out different color shifts, just by choosing different effects from this drop-down menu. This Recipe uses the L03 option. The filter has a strength slider, set to 33% here, so there’s no need to use the opacity slider this time.
- Leves & Curves filter
Color Efex Pro is full of hidden depths, and the Levels & Curves filter is just one example. You can adjust Levels by dragging the black and white point sliders under the horizontal axis (keep your eye on the Histogram display at the bottom of the tools panel) and adjust the curve by adding control points and dragging them to reshape the curve. By default, you adjust all three RGB curves at once, but you’ll see from the drop-down menu that you can adjust the red, green and blue channels individually, and that’s what’s been done in this Recipe. They are small adjustments and quite subtle. You’ll see from the drop-down that you can also adjust the Luminosity curve, so that you can change the contrast without affecting the saturation. This is quite a high-end editing option.
- Sunlight filter
The Sunlight filter doesn’t just attempt to replicate the color of warm sunlight, it also adds a soft, summery ‘glow’. This filter is not always convincing on its own, but it works well here in conjunction with the others. Here’s another instance where the filter has been used at reduced opacity.
The best way to find out what you can do with the filters in Color Efex Pro is just to try them out, both individually and in combination. But if you also ‘deconstruct’ the Recipes that other people have created, you can often discover features you didn’t know about or editing ideas and effects you might never have thought of.