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Create style frames in Photoshop

12. Add a secondary photo

This will be our second image [click the icon to enlarge]
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Now it’s time to add two more photos. Let’s start with the one above. I’m going to use a gradient map to match the colours in the image.

Open the photo and colour pick that darkest blue in the water. Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer, and click the gradient to edit it. You should begin with a white stop on the far-right, and make the stop on the far-left that dark blue swatch colour.

13. Colour-match the previous image

This is a very simple way to get the colours to match up [click the icon to enlarge]
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Now click the bar just below the gradient to add more colours. Towards the white end we want to add the pink neon swatch from our previous composite, and towards the blue end add the previous neon blue. This neon blue swatch will look a little odd and slightly too light, so double-click on it and make it a little darker.

14. Round things out with one more photo

Our third and final image [click the icon to enlarge]
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Let’s work on one more photo to round the set of style frames out (download the photo from stockSnap.io (opens in new tab)). We’ll use the same gradient map technique but with a twist.

15. Adjust the gradient map

Turn down the opacity so some of those original colours peep through [click the icon to enlarge]
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Follow the same gradient map steps as before but leave out that neon blue colour. Make the pink a slightly hotter shade than the one you used previously, and push the dark blue slider over to the right so that more of the image will be on the dark end of the spectrum.

We want to maintain some of those amazing colours from the original photo, so turn down the Opacity of the Gradient Map layer to 75 per cent.

16. Add a light leak

A light leak adds interest to the image [click the icon to enlarge]
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Now you can spice things up a bit by adding a light leak effect (I used an image from Shutterstock (opens in new tab) for this). Duplicate the gradient map and clip it above the light leak image. You may need to turn up the opacity of the gradient map on the copy.

17. Bring the images together

Place the three style frames in a wide document [click the icon to enlarge]
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Now bring all these images together into one document. You’ll need to save out your style frames as PNGs or JPGs first, then create a new document with a very large width such as 4000px. Place the style frames into the new document and space them evenly.

18. Match the tones and values

The central image appears too dark at the moment [click the icon to enlarge]
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We want to match that darker middle frame with the others, which appear much more similar to each other in colour and value. First rasterize your layers by right-clicking them and choosing Rasterize Layer. Create a copy of the middle style frame ('styleframe1'), then with this selected go to ‘Image > Adjustments > Match color’.

Choose the Source as this ‘CombinedStyleFrames.psd’ if you have multiple Photoshop documents open. Then select either style frame 2 or 3, depending on which one you prefer – I went for 2. Turn down the opacity of this copy to blend it with the original frame until you have just the right mix of colour.

If you want to learn more about style frames, take a look at my full video tutorial (opens in new tab).

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Laura Hawk
Laura is a passionate visual effects and motion graphics author at Pluralsight. Her favourite projects are her two in-depth After Effects introductory courses on Pluralsight, which were each built around training motion artists and VFX artists, respectively. Using her vast skill set, Laura has taught thousands of artists everything from shot-tracking and rotoscoping to motion design.