I wanted to share a super-simple way to add deep color to your images. This method uses the humble but powerful Levels adjustment layer. This is our starting image:
Simply add a Levels layer…
… and open up the Adjustments Panel. Here is what the levels initially look like, without any adjustments:
We are first going to move the shadow slider to the right, making the darker tones deeper. Adjust until the color is rich and deep but not too dark…
Next we are going to deepen the midtones. Move the middle slider to the right to do so…
The previous adjustments may make your highlights appear a bit dull, so now we are going to brighten those up. Move the highlight slider (the right-most slider) to the left:
From here, we have a bit of a problem – we have clipped our shadows and highlights, meaning that we lost detail in the brightest and the darkest areas. To help remedy this, we are going to adjust the output levels. I moved the output levels by 5 in each direction, changing them from 0 and 255 to 5 and 250:
Now on any areas that are still too dark or too light, I just use the layer mask and a soft brush to paint over those areas and remove the effect.
Here is the after (if you are on a computer browser, rollover to see the before):
And that’s it! A really simple way to deepen colors in your images. Happy editing!