Project Description

This tutorial video demonstrates techniques for building a custom Exposure preset with a beautiful orange and teal look. Learn how you can expand your photo editing palate with custom-made looks like these.

Photos: Jason Bone, Robert CoppaAlexander Heinrichs, Jenna Barrett


An orange and teal look is a popular color grading method filmmakers use. The orange and teal coloring accentuates skin tones and can add strong contrast between skin tones and the background to help them pop.

Orange and blue are on opposite ends of the color wheel. Any two colors that are directly opposite each other are called complementary colors. Adding complementary colors to an image works for hue combinations, like orange/blue, magenta/green, or purple/yellow. This video will focus on creating an orange and teal look, but the same rules apply to other coloring scenarios.

Whenever you are building a custom look, find some examples to use as guides. This will help you keep on track as you make adjustments.

Images with natural blue and orange colors will work best for this kind of effect. That is where the effects for this color combination will show most prominently.

We recommend that you use RAW photos when editing. They provide the most latitude for making adjustments without a noticeable loss in image quality.

How to make an Orange and Teal look in Exposure

Exposure’s Hue, Saturation, and Luminance controls on the Color panel make building an orange and teal look really easy. The majority of the effect is made by adjusting the hue values for the colors of our selected color combination.

I’ll change the Red hues slider to be more orange. That gives the blouse to more of an orange hue. It also affects the skin tones, so I will be careful not to add too much.

I don’t need to make any tweaks to the Yellow hues slider for this image because it doesn’t contain any strong yellows.

Next, I’ll adjust the Blue hues to the cyan end of the spectrum. This adds the teal tone to the windows in the background.

The color of the window reflections also contain a subtle cyan tone, so I will adjust the Cyan hues slider to give them more of a blue rather than green tone.

After setting the Hue values, you can make further enhancements to the colors using the Saturation and Luminance controls.

I’ll use the Targeted Adjustment tool for color saturation to boost the teal intensity in the background.

Next I’ll do the same thing with the luminance Targeted Adjustment tool to darken the teal color slightly. This adds a little more separation between the model and the background.

Orange and teal coloring can work well with a faded effect, so let’s add that to finish the look.
I’ll open the Tone Curve panel. Instead of adding or moving points in the curve, I’ll simply drag the Blackpoint value up slightly to lift the black values in the image and recover some of the details in the hair. I’ll make a similar adjustment with the Whitepoint value to slightly darken the whites and recover some of the blown out highlights.

As a final step, I’ll save the effect as a custom preset so I can use it in the future. I’ll press ⌘+S or Ctrl+S to bring up the Edit Preset dialog. I’ll give the preset a name, put it in a category, and add a helpful description.

When I’m saving the preset, I’ll only select the layer that contains the orange and teal adjustments. The other layers used when editing this image contain basic edits and brushing effects that I don’t want to include in the preset.