The Secret to Dark & Moody Coloring in Photoshop

Have you ever wondered how professional photographers and designers achieve that captivating dark and moody coloring in their images? Well, the secret lies in the powerful editing tools of Photoshop. With just a few simple techniques, you can transform your ordinary photographs into striking and atmospheric masterpieces. In this blog, we will uncover the key steps to achieving the sought-after dark and moody coloring in Photoshop. From adjusting the levels and curves to applying selective color grading and utilizing blending modes, we will guide you through the process, enabling you to create stunning, visually dramatic images that will leave a lasting impression on your audience. So, let’s delve into the world of dark and moody coloring and unleash your creative potential with Photoshop!

The Secret to Dark & Moody Coloring in Photoshop

Today we’re going to discuss the secret to creating dark and moody coloring in Photoshop. This technique is highly sought after, especially for those who want to achieve a particular aesthetic on platforms like Instagram. Let’s dive into the process!

Choosing the Right Image

Before we begin, it’s essential to select the right image to convey the desired dark and moody feel. We have two examples to compare – one with a bright and sunny day, featuring light-colored clothing and an overall vibrant mood. The other photo is much darker, with a somber subject material, evoking a sense of melancholy, like looking out of a rain-soaked window. For this tutorial, we’ll be working with the latter image to apply the dark and moody coloring effect.

Using Curves Adjustment Layers

In Photoshop, we can achieve the dark and moody coloring effect with just one curves adjustment layer. This adjustment layer allows us to manipulate the darkest and lightest points in our image, ultimately creating the desired look.

To start, go to the “Layer” menu, select “New Adjustment Layer,” and choose “Curves.” Inside the curves adjustment layer, there is a block that represents the different color channels – RGB, red, green, and blue.

To achieve the dark and moody effect, we need to adjust the points on the bottom left and top right of this block. By moving the points, we can control the darkness or brightness of the shadows and highlights in our image.

Begin by moving the bottom left point up and to the right. This will compress the dark tones, making them slightly lighter. Similarly, move the top right point down and to the left, darkening the lightest points in the image. It’s important to experiment with these adjustments to find the perfect balance for your dark and moody coloring effect.

You can also make adjustments in the individual color channels (red, green, and blue) to achieve different color schemes within your dark and moody look. For example, manipulating the red channel can create a warmer or cooler tone, depending on your preference.

Once you are satisfied with the adjustments, you can toggle the visibility of the adjustment layer on and off to see the impact on your image. This gives you a before-and-after comparison and allows you to fine-tune the effect if necessary.

Applying the Effect to Different Images

It’s important to note that the dark and moody coloring effect may not work well on all images. In the tutorial, we applied the same curves adjustment layer to the bright and sunny photo, and the result was not as effective. This is because the bright photo lacks the necessary dark tones to create the desired mood.

When applying the dark and moody effect to your images, consider the mood you want to convey first and then adjust the coloring accordingly. It’s about enhancing the existing mood rather than forcing it onto any image.


Creating dark and moody coloring in Photoshop can be achieved using the curves adjustment layer. By manipulating the darkest and lightest points in your image, you can effectively create a desired aesthetic. Remember to choose the right image initially and make adjustments that enhance the intended mood. Enjoy experimenting with this technique to bring a touch of darkness and moodiness to your photos!

Frequently Asked Questions about The Secret to Dark & Moody Coloring in Photoshop

Q1: What is “Dark & Moody” coloring in Photoshop?

A1: Dark & Moody coloring is a specific style of image enhancement in Photoshop that focuses on creating a dark, dramatic, and atmospheric aesthetic. It involves manipulating the colors, tones, and contrast of an image to achieve a haunting yet captivating look.

Q2: How can I achieve the Dark & Moody coloring effect?

A2: To achieve the Dark & Moody coloring effect, you can follow these steps:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop.
  2. Adjust the overall exposure and contrast using the Levels or Curves adjustment layers.
  3. Enhance the details and textures by using tools like Dodge and Burn.
  4. Alter the color tones by adjusting the Hue/Saturation or Color Balance settings.
  5. Add or manipulate shadows and highlights using the Shadows/Highlights adjustment.
  6. Experiment with selective color adjustments to create a moody atmosphere.

Q3: Are there any specific Photoshop techniques required?

A3: Yes, acquiring a good understanding of adjustment layers, blending modes, and image manipulation tools like Levels, Curves, Dodge, Burn, and selective color adjustments will greatly help in achieving the Dark & Moody coloring effect.

Q4: Can this technique be applied to any type of image?

A4: Although the Dark & Moody coloring effect works exceptionally well for certain types of images, such as landscapes, portraits, and still life, it can be applied to various types of images depending on your desired outcome. Experiment and be creative!

Q5: Are there any recommended resources or tutorials for mastering this style?

A5: Absolutely! There are plenty of online resources and tutorials available that can guide you through mastering the Dark & Moody coloring style in Photoshop. Some popular options include YouTube channels dedicated to Photoshop tutorials, photography blogs, and online courses focused on photo editing techniques.

I hope you find useful my article The Secret to Dark & Moody Coloring in Photoshop, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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