Colour Grading After Effects

So I had a it of problem with me AE file. Trying to composite the layers together was giving a totally different colour than I wanted. Alec suggested I look at colour grading the overall composition, or each of the passes subtly. I wanted to have a further look into this, given I had already colour matched the saturation and black/ white values.

So, what is colour grading?

Color grading is the process of altering and enhancing the color of a motion picture, video image, or still image either electronically, photo-chemically or digitally. Color grading encompasses both color correction and the generation of artistic color effects. Whether for theatrical film, video distribution, or print, color grading is generally now performed digitally in a color suite. The earlier photo-chemical film process, known as color timing, was performed at a photographic laboratory. (, 2016).

Below is a video explaining the different uses of colour grading in film. It explains the use of colour palletes and how they are used in film and why- the likes of Transformers has a consistent one  throughout the film, whereas Black Hawk Down is always changing and evolving.

Colour grading and film. (YouTube, 2016).

How to Colour Correct/ Grade in AE. (YouTube, 2016).

  • Levels- Keeping on stock RGB (luma)- keeping the darks further, as the image is flat, and the same with the highs (make sure not to blow it out the lights or crush the blacks.) Move the gamma to middle to adjust. Don’t use the below- controls overall transparency.
  • Colour wheel- biggest thing being primary and secondary colours in colour correcting- blue to yellow then red, and orange to green and violet. Common complimentary correction is blue in the shadows and yellows in the highlights. This is done in curves, this is a bit more visual than using levels. The further the curve pulled down the darker it gets, the higher the lighter. To change the blue in the shadows, change to curve from RGB to blue, using the lower piece of the curve, move it up a notch. IMPORTANT- move the middle back to the centre, so it doesn’t change the highlights too. For the top of the curve, move it down subtly.


Colour Grade any Footage. (YouTube, 2016).

  • Tint- use of tint to give a different feel to the image.

I wanted to create a more stylistic lighting look in my composite- to push the colours in the character compared to those of the black and white background photo.

Creation of a vignette- black solid, creating a mask using the lasso tool and setting the type to subtraction so it only effects outer edges. This allow more pop in the character/ man playing the guitar

Adjustment layer 1 – top- first to approach- saturation to -19 and an opacity of 52%. Red and greens calm down more.

Adjustment layer 2- using a look layer with 52% opacity- default setting makes it look more saturated.


References (2016). Color grading. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Dec. 2016].

Ward, C. (2017). 8 Methods for Color Grading in After Effects. [online] RocketStock. Available at: [Accessed 2 Jan. 2017].


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s