4 Ways To Create The Leave Color Behind Look

4 Ways To Create The Leave Color Behind Look

December 2, 2014

The leave color behind look is something every colorist should have in their tool kit. Learn 4 different methods for creating this look.

Day 2: 25 Insights in 25 Days Holiday Marathon

The Always Popular Leave Color Behind Look

No matter how played out or cliche you think the leave color behind look is, the fact is, it’s an essential look to have in your color grading arsenal.

If you’re not familiar with the look that I’m talking about it – the leave color behind look leaves one color in full or increased saturation and desaturates or mutes all other colors in the shot.

Of course, there is some variance to how this look is applied – some colorists prefer to not apply a total desaturation to the image but desaturate it just slightly to allow the color they chose to leave behind to pop more without creating an overall stylized look.

The leave color behind look has been made popular by movies like Pleasantville, Shindler’s List and countless commercials and music videos.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Like many grading techniques, one method of creating a look doesn’t fit every shot!

That’s why when building this look I have four main techniques that I use depending on the footage, the overall look I’m trying to create and what my client’s preference is.

As I’ll show you in the movie below, the techniques break down as:

  • Using the Hue vs Sat Curve
  • An inverted HSL Qualification (key)
  • Using the RGB Mixer With A Layer Mixer Node Tree
  • Using The RGB Mixer In Monochrome Mode With A Parallel Node Tree

You may have other techniques (please share them in the comments) but these are my 4 main methods.

No single one is the ‘right method’ of creating the leave color behind look.  Each has their own benefits and draw backs, but having multiple techniques for creating this popular look allows you to be prepared the next time you need to create it.

– Robbie

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Homepage Forums 4 Ways To Create The Leave Color Behind Look

  • I particularly love the look of the parallel node approach, even if it is not strictly the ‘Leave Color Behind Look’. I can totally think of using it instead of a ‘Bleach Bypass’ look for example, so I’ll have to give it a try.

    For this look, I do a little different so I share as suggested (cf. image):
    – In node 1, the source image: I can pump up the saturation of the color if needed;
    – In node 3, the monochrome image (RGB mixer as ‘photo filters’ if needed): the color to leave is keyed and inverted to enter the layer node correctly (composite mode set to ‘normal’).

    I could have also done the opposite: image color in node 3, color keyed, and monochrome in node 1 (that way I don’t have to invert the key, and it makes more sense to have the color on the top layer).

  • I was just thinking about how to pull this look off with multiple colors, after seeing The Giver. Love the parallel node method, many thanks, Robbie!

  • RobbieCarman

    yep this is a good method too!

  • A

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