Creating Superior Styles in Capture One

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Let’s talk about custom styles! I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the primary features of styles in Capture One. If not, check out this tutorial that covers all the essential topics.
Today I’ll share my top hints for creating superior styles in Capture One!
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Now, let’s discuss custom styles!

Avoid Image-Dependent Tools

In my styles, I prefer avoiding image-dependant tools, such as White Balance, Levels, and Exposure.

A particular White Balance might fit your color grading just perfectly. Unfortunately, there is little chance that this effect is replicable on other images, making your WB-based style pretty useless.
Still, sometimes, I use very extreme values of WB that look more or less similar on different images. For instance, my Sun-Bleached Toning style brush contains 12000K White Balance and -75 Saturation – a very simple and pretty universal mix.

The problem of Levels in styles is that all images require different black and white point corrections or even none at all. Hence, applying some saved Levels might result in losing valuable information on your image.
Similarly, if your image exposure needs to be fixed, it’s not a task for a style.

There Are No All-Purpose Styles

It’s utterly normal if your style works great for some images and ruins others. The best practice is to create styles for specific image types.
Here are several examples from the styles I’ve posted for my $9+ patrons:
Portraits require a very gentle touch, with the focus on skin tone colors and mild color grading.

If you apply a portrait-designed style to a landscape, you might notice almost no difference. Still, you can make a style a bit more universal by increasing adjustment values and using a style on a layer with 20-30% opacity for portraits.

The goal of Travel styles is to make images easier to view by applying universal exposure adjustments with accurate color grading.

Try to include mild contrast, HDR, Curve, and Dehaze adjustments, that most images benefit from. For color grading, I prefer to go with classical solutions, such as Warm-Cool contrast.

Usually, Landscapes require styles with pretty strong adjustments. Plus, you can always manage style impact with opacity. Besides, it makes sense to prepare styles according to different color palettes of landscape images.
I use HDR to balance shadows and highlights on winter landscapes, making more room for color grading. Then I go with Color Balance or color channel Curves to improve the image atmosphere.

Autumn landscapes can be enhanced by decreasing the saturation of secondary colors and focusing viewers’ attention on the primary colors of the fall. Also, consider applying mild color toning to increase the depth of an image.

For B&W landscapes, there is a wide variety of adjustments to choose from. You can safely go with an intense contrast as well as making your image more dull and flat in a beautiful way.

Finally, Creative styles offer an excellent field for experimentation with color. I use them only on layers to have full control over style impact.

That’s why I prefer to set pretty strong adjustments by default, to see how such a style affects my image quickly.

Analyze and Enhance

The best way to master style creation is to analyze and enhance existing styles for your needs. For instance, apply some of the built-in styles in Capture One and hover your cursor over it:

You will see which tools have been used in this style. Now, try to change some of the settings and analyze how they affect your image.
Experiment with built-in styles, and you’ll see that most of the styles have an inner logic. For instance, a style can darken shadows with Curve and recover them with a touch of HDR. A style can desaturate specific colors and then color tone an image. Together, these adjustments give a unique look that you can adjust for your preferences.

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About Author

Alexander Svet – Professional photographer and photography instructor. Phase One Certified Professional and Capture One beta tester.