How to Create the Hollywood Look

by | 5 years ago

The Hollywood look is a color theory used in movies. If you look closely, you’ll see in a lot of movies that two colors usually stand out: a mix of blue/green and orange.

Let me explain further. Take a look at this color wheel. When you have two complimentary colors together, they stand out from each other. (Complimentary colors are directly opposite of each other on the color wheel.) And, because human skin is usually around lighter or darker orange tones, it works very well with blue. The idea is for an actor to stand out in the picture. If you have too many colors in your frame, it will be distracting for the eye. Here’s how you can apply that look in your photos!

step one: This is a photo I took in Monaco, in front of a casino. It felt like a movie scene to me.

step two: First, let’s do a basic retouch. I reduced the Highlights to –100, opened up the Shadows to +100, moved my Whites to +31 and my Blacks to –47, and finally, I added a bit of Clarity (+38). This isn’t the Hollywood look, just the basic retouching.

step three: There’s a bit of noise in this photo, so I went to the Develop module’s Detail panel and applied my usual formula of around 50 for Luminance Noise Reduction, 25 for Color Noise Reduction, and then 50 for Sharpening Amount. I also added some Sharpening Masking (50).

step four: We’ll get the Hollywood look in the Split Toning panel. First, let’s make the Shadows a blue/green tone. There’s no formula here; you just have to do it by eye. I set the Shadows to 219 for the Hue and 85 for the Saturation.

step five: Now, let’s make the Highlights more orange. For that, you can do the same thing you did for the Shadows and pick a color that looks good to you. Here, I set the Highlights Hue to 38 and the Saturation to 74.

step six: Use the Balance slider to make the colors even and find what works for you. I ended up with my Balance set to –24, and I lowered the Highlights Saturation to 60. Moving the Balance slider to the left puts the emphasis more on the shadow colors, which is blue in this case.

step seven: Here in the final image, you can see that we’ve created the movie look.

step eight: Now, you can even make a preset with these settings, and use it as a starting point to re-create this Hollywood-look effect. Just click on the plus icon to the right of the header in the Presets panel to open the New Develop Preset dialog.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and that you’ll create a movie scene of your own with it!