Tuesday, January 29, 2013

CoffeeShop Matte Color Action-UnWrapped Tutorial!

There is a new trendy edit out there, and people are calling it the Matte effect. I have even seen this type of edit in many ad photos such as Dior with Natalie Portman. I just released a free action to create the Matte look this week, CoffeeShop Matte Color, and I also wanted to post a tutorial so that you can do the enhancement on your own. This tutorial works in both Photoshop and PSE.

CoffeeShop Matte Color Action UnWrapped Tutorial!  Disclaimer:  There are many ways to get this effect and I am just showing you one way I create it.

Open your image.  I am using Blackberry's portrait since she is black (and completely adorable) and you can easily see the edit as I work through it.  Like most of my tutorials, I overdo the enhancements so you can see how each editing step affects the image.

Matte Layer-Photoshop:  I make a copy of my background (Ctrl-J) and then do a curves adjustment.  I grab the lower left corner and drag the point out to the top right corner of the first large square (Output 64, Input 64) and then adjust it down or up for each image.  This adjustment lowers contrast on the image and really flattens the blacks.  I also usually add a layer mask so I can selectively remove the effect where needed (eyes).

Matte Layer-PSE and Photoshop:  You can also get the same effect using Levels.  Slide down your black Output Levels slider until your blacks are flat (1), and then slide the shadows slider to the right to bring back some contrast (2).  Play with the settings for each image.   I also usually add a layer mask so I can selectively remove the effect where needed (eyes).

Contrast Boost Layer:  I personally like to add back a bit of contrast.  I copy the layer where I did the Matte levels or curves adjustment (Ctrl-J), and then put that layer in soft light blending mode and dial down the opacity.  

Desaturate Layer:  Finally, I add a hue/saturation layer and lower the saturation.  I think the colors look too bright otherwise.

Mouse over the image to see the before.  I would probably mask some of the Matte layer off Blackberry and leave the background as it is.  But on certain images (such as portraits taken in nature), this type of edit can be quite stunning.

I hope this tutorial proved useful.  I have a few more Matte actions and tutorials coming out,  as well as a new Sun-Kissed action.  Thank you so much for reading my blog!

Do you want to download my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one convenient zipped file AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures.

For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


  1. Hi CSB, I was wondering, have you ever played with the Color curve in PSE? As in your first step, make your duplicate layer then go to (ahh man I'm at work and cant remember it!!) I think it's Enhance>Adjust Color> Adjust Color Curves, you would know better. I was just wondering why you wouldn't use these or if you would?

  2. Hi Burgen! I use Photoshop more than PSE so I might be missing something. :-) I don't see how to do the same effect easily using Color Curves since I can't physically move the points on the curve and instead have to play with the sliders. I think it is easier in my case to use Levels. But I am always excited to learn new PSE tips! Rita

  3. I see you point! I'll have to play around with both and let you know if anything exciting comes of it! Again love your blog, thanks

  4. Thank you so much Burgen! Please let me know if you figure out another method and I will add it to this post.

  5. There is a great free curves action over at Everyday Elements blog that will accomplish the matte effect for PSE like you outline for PS in this tutorial. Love all your tutorials and actions! Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Shana, I also have a free action using the curves method linked in this post. :-). And I love Everyday Elements!!! Rita

  7. Thanks, Rita! I LOVE this action! Thank you so much for all the time, energy, and creativity you put into your work with this blog. You make it possible for a little old hobby photographer like me to create some pretty great images. I used this action (and Perfect Portrait 3, which I almost ALWAYS use...so amazing!) on some photos on my blog, if you want to check them out... The Mombie Files

  8. Just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate not only the free actions, but you taking the time to explain how we can do these things for ourselves! Love learning,and you make it so easy for us!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them them as soon as possible.