When the captured color in a photo isn’t quite right for the way you want to use it, or you simply want to put an artistic spin on it, try creating this easy photo-illustration effect in Adobe Photoshop.

Hand holds postcard for Perry Moppins Rainy Day Fund album release party with colorful floating umbrellas in the background.

First, we isolated the umbrellas by removing the blue sky. With the Magic Wand tool, click an area of the sky. Shift-click other areas until the sky is all selected. Adjusting Sample Size, Tolerance, and other settings can make this process quicker. Then Alt/Option-click Add Layer Mask to hide the sky.

Magic Wand tool is used to select blue sky and isolate umbrellas. Umbrella layer and Add Layer Mask selected in Layers panel

Now that your subject is isolated, click the layer thumbnail to create the colorized effect. Experiment with the Camera Raw Filter (Filter > Camera Raw Filter) and click the Presets icon. Try clicking an option in each section to build up the effect; here’s a sampling of the different looks you can create.

Four thumbnails of umbrellas with different Camera Raw Filter presets shown

We combined Matte, Aged Photo, and Medium Vignetting.

Artwork of umbrellas with Matte, Aged Photo, and Medium Vignetting Camera Raw Filters selected.

Try changing the background to complement the hand-colored effect. We applied a gradation with the Gradient tool. After changing colors for each end of the gradient, we dragged from left to right to apply the gradient.

Gradient Editor box shows custom pastel gradient applied to sky. Layers panel shows gradient on Background layer.

See the difference filters and effects can make.

Before: Brightly colored umbrellas float through a pale blue sky After: Umbrella colors are more muted and sky is a custom pastel gradient transitioning from light blue to creamy yellow.

Keep practicing. Isolate any subject to its own layer, and then apply different filters and effects to each layer. You never know what signature art style you’ll invent.

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