How to get the bleach bypass effect in Photoshop
The bleach bypass effect has its roots in the traditional darkroom. It’s a complicated and potentially messy process that requires the printer to miss out certain chemicals in the printing process. However, the striking results boast enhanced contrast and wonderfully muted colours that are generally considered to be worth the effort. It’s easy to see how the technique has become extremely popular, especially with advertising and fashion photographers.
Thankfully, recreating the process in Photoshop is much easier, quicker and there’s no nasty chemicals to deal with. It can be done using a selection of Adjustment Layers and Blend Modes. We’re going to show you how to use a Black and White Adjustment Layer so that we can target specific tones. Then we’ll use a cunning combination of Blend Modes and colour tweaks. So let’s see how it’s done…
Recreate the bleach bypass effect in Photoshop
Step 1: Duplicate layers
Open your start image and press Cmd/Ctrl+J. Make sure that the top layer is selected and choose the Screen Blend Mode then press Cmd/Ctrl+E to flatten the layer onto the layer below. Create a new Black and White Adjustment Layer and then select the finger icon at top left of the window.
Step 2: Adjust the tones
Here, we moved the cursor over the image and clicked and held the mouse over the liquid in the bottle. Then we dragged left to darken the tone. We then clicked into the darker area of the background near the top and repeated this. Then adjust the tones of the image in this way to create a high-contrast black-and-white image.
Step 3: Clip the layers
Hold down Alt and hover between the Black and White Adjustment Layer and the image layer. When you see the cursor change, click to clip the Adjustment Layer to the image layer. Click the image layer and change the Blend Mode to Soft Light. Click back onto the Background Layer and then duplicate it using Cmd/Ctrl+J.
Step 4: High Pass sharpen
Make sure the new layer is selected and go to Filter>Other>High Pass. Decrease the Radius to 8 pixels and click OK. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay. Now click onto the top layer and create a new Curve Adjustment Layer. We now want to create a subtle S-curve to increase the brightness of the mid-tones.
Step 5: Improve the tone
Create a point at the centre of the curve and increase the Output value to 156. Create another point in the bottom quarter of the shadows and set Output and Input values to 64. Finally, in the top right quarter in the highlights, reduce Output to 215. We now want to subdue the colour to replicate the bleach bypass effect.
Step 6: Subdue the colour
Create a new Hue/Saturation Layer and then reduce overall Saturation to -30. To finish, double-click the Black and White Adjustment Layer and use the tonal adjustment to make any final changes to the tone of the image.
Bleach Bypass: Photoshop top tip
When it comes to applying the bleach bypass effect digitally, every image will react differently to the process applied, depending on the colours involved. The readjustment in the final step of the Black and White Adjustment Layer helps you to fine-tune the tone of the colours after applying the layer blending and other effects.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012 at 8:00 am and is filed under Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.