Learn how to Apply Cyberpunk Fashion Colour Grading & Neon Results to Your Pictures
The cyberpunk aesthetic is often associated with densely populated, futuristic cities that are illuminated by bright neon signs and advertisements. Follow these steps in Adobe Photoshop to turn a normal street photo into a neon noir scene by applying strong color correction with light blue and hot pink, and neon sign effects to create a colorful yet atmospheric atmosphere in the image .
In this Photoshop tutorial, I'll show you how to improve a nighttime street photo to give it a vibrant cyberpunk effect. We'll start with some image adjustments to get a hyper-realistic appearance before we process the colors with a split tone effect. Improvements to the neon signs and some subtle fog effects complete the picture with a stylized look, as if it were a scene from a futuristic neon noir film.
Street scene images from busy cities in the Far East such as Seoul, Tokyo or Hong Kong provide the perfect backdrop for cyberpunk style. I will be using this free image from Ethan Brooke on Unsplash.com.
Open the image in Adobe Photoshop. However, before proceeding, duplicate the background layer (CMD + J) to keep a copy of the original and convert the new layer into a smart object so that the filters and effects are applied nondestructively.
Go to Filters> Camera Raw Filters to make a number of adjustments to improve the image. Use the temperature and hue sliders to introduce the pink and blue color scheme, which is a core component of the Cyberpunk style.
Reduce the highlights and the slider "Shadow" to control the overall brightness and contrast of the image and to highlight the details with an HDR style.
Slightly reduce the "poeticbusiness" slider to soften the glow of the lights, then increase the dehaze value to restore contrast to the image.
Go to the Split Toning section of the Camera Raw filter. Temporarily maximize the saturation sliders to find a suitable hue – a light pink for the lights and a rich blue for the shadows – and then lower the saturation levels to reduce the vividness of the effect.
On the Fx tab, add a vignette to darken the edges of the picture. Increase the feather value slightly so that the vignette is hidden evenly.
These camera raw adjustments alone completely change the appearance of the original photo and give it a stylized and color-coordinated appearance. However, we can further improve the cyberpunk effect by making additional adjustments.
Add a layer adjustment layer, and then call the shadow output layer slider. This changes the black point to wash out the darkest areas of the image. Slightly darken these areas with the slider for normal shadow levels.
Next we use the Select> Color Range command to make a copy of the lightest areas of the image. Choose highlights and set the range to around 200. Use the Copy and Paste commands to place a copy of the highlights on a new layer.
Double-click the new highlight layer and add a layer style for the exterior glow. Configure the Linear Dodge settings with white, a minimum spread value. However, adjust the size to get a soft glow, and then decrease the opacity to reduce the highlighting of the effect.
Add a new layer and set up the brush tool with no hardness. Reduce the flow value in the toolbar and try out the colors of the photo by holding the ALT key to toggle the pipette. Place spots of color around the image that match the color tones of the photo.
Change the blending mode of this layer to "Screen" and reduce the opacity to about 40% to get a series of subtle color casts.
Converting existing signs or advertisements in the photo to neon lights is a great way to illuminate the scene. Add a new layer and set up the brush tool with a small tip and 100% hardness. Activate smoothing in the brush settings and set the value in the top toolbar to about 50% to make it easier to trace letters in the image. Don't forget to reset the flow value to 100%.
Double-click this layer to apply some layer styles and convert the basic brushstrokes to neon lights. Start with a color overlay, using a blue hue as the base color for the neon light.
Next, add an inner glow with the Linear Dodge, White, and Source settings set to Center. Adjust the throttle and size values to create a white center that fades toward the edge of the tube towards a blue outline.
An outer glow effect helps to illuminate the neon light. Use the linear fallback mode with a similar blue hue. Use minimal scatter for a uniform glow and adjust the size value accordingly.
It is not possible to duplicate the outer glow effect, but a drop shadow can be configured in the same way. Use similar settings for Linear Dodge and a blue hue, and then reduce the distance and spread to zero. However, increase the size to create a larger ambient light around the neon lights.
Track all the neon lights in different colors on a new level. Right-click, copy the layer style of the blue neon lights and paste them into the new layer to replicate the glow effects. Edit the hue settings to create other neon colors.
If any of the neon signs have been transferred to power cables or other obstacles, group the elements and add a layer mask. Use a small black brush to erase the relevant areas.
Finally, add a new layer and apply some fog effects with this free set of smoke brushes.
Set the blending mode of the smoke brush level to Dodge and lower the fill level so that the colors interact and create a vivid fog effect.
The end result is a vibrant cyberpunk photo effect with blue and pink color corrections and intense neon signs. The initial camera raw adjustments transformed the original photo with HDR contrast and split color effects. The addition of additional neon lights and foggy lighting effects intensified the futuristic mood of the scene.
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To see how this effect is created in real time, follow this video format tutorial where you can see how a similar street scene with the same Photoshop adjustments will get the cyberpunk look.
Watch the video tutorial