Just because your 3D software has completed rendering doesn’t mean your image or 3D configurator is complete. In the following article, we’ll explain how you can color correct your work.

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CG applications tend to produce images with lots of detail across the entire render area. That’s great because it gives you more free time to adjust and edit, but it means that the initial beauty experience may look a bit flat.

You can try adjusting them in 3D with light and shadow, but this often means that compromises are needed in other areas. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some useful tools, tips and techniques so you can enrich your work with a little more life.

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Although you can do this step-by-step, we will teach you which buttons to press. We will also present you with a selection of possible edits that you can use to create your own distinctive style. We will give you some ideas so you can develop your own style. If we tell them to do A, then B to get to C, it’s very easy to get caught. It’s better if you absorb these ideas and try a few things and design your own way of working on this basis.

This article will focus mainly on color processing. We’ll also give you some tools and tips to help you with your color correction and grading.

Linear Workflow.

If your 3D software has this feature, use it. Linear work not only makes your renderings more realistic, with more precise lighting and color, but it also gives you a lot more leeway afterwards.

An image in linear space has more detail in the shadows and lights, so you can make adjustments here without seeing so many anomalies. Try to keep your entire workflow in a linear space if you can, including painting textures, creating shaders, and any rework you do. Skipping parts can lead to inconsistencies that are more difficult to fix.

Level and curve fitting.

Almost always the first thing we do with an image is to duplicate the background layer and then adjust the layers and curves. Starting from the layers (CMD+L) you can see that the histogram does not contain any information about the right/brighter part of the image. This takes into account the lack of overall rendering brightness and can be fixed by dragging the slider to the far right to the left. Drag the information to where you start and you’ll have a good start.

It makes sense to make an initial curve fit to add a small contrast to the image. A smooth S-shaped curve is a good starting point, with a point in the middle of the curve moved to where most midtones are. You should then add a point to increase the highlights and one to increase the shadows.

Chromatic Abberations.

As you may have noticed, 3D artists tend to spend some time adding the same elements to their renderings that a photographer uses for all kinds of purposes to reduce them.

Photographers, especially commercial product photographers, want to eliminate as many of the effects the object creates as possible. This can range from blurring and distortion to noise and chromatic aberrations.

This is something that happens when light falls through the glass. The result you see on your screen is a slight offset between the colors because they have broken differently.

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Expensive lenses practically eliminate or correct this, but as a 3D artist it can be worth adding a small amount. If you’re trying to adjust footage for this, or if you want a more photographic look, try it. Some software even has profiles for certain lenses.

Since the real-world effect usually increases towards the edge of the image, it is advisable to replicate it afterwards. It is also helpful to duplicate the image twice. The first one contains a small aberration, followed by a reduction of the opacity, the second one a little more aberration. It is also advisable to use a large feathered selection to delete the central part of this layer, so that the overall effect of the chromatic aberration is a decrease towards the center of the image, similar to a photo.

Blurring and distortion.

Another great tool to create a familiar photographic look is to add some blur and noise to your work. For blur, I would suggest depth of field, either light or heavy, if you want to give things a macro look. Adding a little edge blur can look good and look like trying to be subtle.

You can see here that I’ve added some depth of field to replicate the look of a large aperture. The renderer, along with a small contrast enhancer and film grain, looks more photographic than a normal straight renderer. As for the warp threads, keep them. Many users have a habit of using the lens correction tool negatively by loading the filter and then pressing the “D” key and dragging on the image to get real-time feedback.

You can be pretty extreme here, so be careful. A small bend on straight edges will go a long way.


Noise awakens negative associations in graphic designers, but can be helpful in downstream processes to standardize adjustments and give a touch of a film look.

On the one hand you can add film grains, on the other hand you can use Photoshop’s tools to add noise or magic spheres. They all have different approaches, and by testing them you can find out what suits them best. As with all these things, it stays subtle.


Here you can make your mark and be less subtle if you want. The color in an image is what determines the tone and style, according to the lighting, but with a certain relationship to it. The best way to work with color is on a duplicate of its main plane or on an adjustment plane.

Usually we work on the color after we have made our first curves and adjustments. Whether you’re trying to emulate your favorite look or find your own, a little hint on the color wheel will help. It’s usually best to work in opposite directions, both in color and brightness. Let’s look at the latest trends.

The Transformer movies and many others have really pushed this to its limits and it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, but it’s very easy to see. The shadows are brightened with a blue/tea shade and the lights are slightly muted with warmer tones, sometimes almost salmon-like.

There is no rule that says you have to stay within these limits, but we personally think it helps the viewer to feel comfortable with what you see. Experiment with different combinations and see what they like. There are some works with yellowish lights and purple tinted shadows that looked amazing. They should play around a little to see what they might like.

Remove color.

Another possible color choice would be the removal of color, either selectively or as a whole. Desaturating an image can add a touch of class or try to saturate it with brightened shadows for a 70s retro feel.

Or keep pressing for Sin City’s “Yellow Bastard” or “Goldie” look. You can do this by combining Keying and Garbage Mattes. The step-by-step is slightly outside the scope of this article, but the basic principle is very easy to get to grips with.


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Although we have mentioned some stages of the process that are best suited for a particular adjustment, please don’t feel limited to them. Grading is about experimenting and creating a look that helps the viewer subconsciously understand what the Creator wants.

Don’t let the tools put you off. There are some very expensive options, but you can do it with almost any image editing software.

And once you’ve practiced on stills, remember that you can work with your animations just as easily. When you work with After Effects, almost everything can be done the same way, if you like. The main difference is to use a Bezier wrap instead of the Photoshop filter to add some Lens warp.