Color Efex Pro‘s Bi-Colour filter adds a colour gradient to your pictures, adding a subtle wash of one colour to the base and one to the top. It’s not an effect you’ll use every day, but don’t dismiss it straight away because there is a type of shot where it really comes to life, and that’s any picture with silhouettes or monochromatic skies. These can be quickly transformed into something spectacular with this wash of colour.
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I’ll show you what I mean with this picture of a rookery (above) silhouetted against a bleak November sky. The shapes work really well, but it’s missing that little extra dab of drama needed to turn it into a truly striking image.
01 The Bi-Colour filter
Color Efex Pro filters are listed alphabetically in the left sidebar, and if you click the ‘All’ button at the top of the panel, you’ll find the B-Colour filter near the top of the list.
This default rendition is quite subtle, and what’s good about this filter is the way the colour is blended with the image. You can produce quite natural-looking results that don’t look manipulated – though in this case I’m going to pull out all the stops…
02 Increase the Opacity
As usual, you’ll find all the manual adjustment tools for the filter over on the right hand side of the screen. I want the colours to be much stronger, and this is achieved by increasing the Opacity value – I’m going right up to 85%.
03 Vertical Shift
If the gradation between the bottom colour and the top colour isn’t quite in the right place, you can move it up and down with the Vertical Shift slider. You move it to the right to move the effect downwards, which seems the wrong way round, but you soon get used to it.
04 Try different Colour Sets
The most fun, though, is to be had with the drop-down Colour Set menu at the top of the tools panel. This displays bi-colour combinations in groups of four, such as ‘Brown’, ‘Cool/Warm’ and so on. My current favourite is number 4 in the Brown section – used at a high opacity it gives a powerful yet surprisingly natural-looking sunset effect.
05 Some sample pictures
Here’s a selection of bi-colour filter effects applied to my start image. From left to right, the yellow-orange effect is my favourite, but I think the yellow-blue version next to it has potential – next time, I think I’ll smooth out the transition with the Blend slider and maybe reduce the Opacity value and hence the saturation. I like number 3’s yellow-green colouration (from the ‘Moss’ group) and number 4 is a subtler version where I’ve moved the transition to the bottom of the frame and chosen less saturated colours.
Above is my favourite at a larger size. The colours are a little over the top, I guess, but whenever I’m browsing through my image catalog, this image always leaps out at me from amongst all the thumbnails around it, so it’s certainly attention-grabbing, and that’s surely half the battle with any photo?