In this Inspiration piece we take a look at the gorgeous Campari ad campaign featuring American actress Jessica Alba, shot by Mario Testino.
The jump-off point here as with any product ad is the product itself;
Being a deep red, the palette for the entire shoot is based around saturated reds and their complement, in this case teal.
If we take a look at the colour wheel below (via graf1x.com) note that the teal hues around the cyan/green range lay directly opposite ‘Campari red.’
This a classic complementary colour scheme, where opposites on the colour wheel provide a pleasing psychological contrast. Note that location, makeup and props have all been selected accordingly.
The reds and their opposite teal hues are only broken by whites and blacks, which are almost true neutrals (with a marginal red cast), breaking apart the potentially dull two colour theme without muddying the palette.
Contrast in the mids is very high with low shadow/highlight detail which suggest a strong S-curve, and high sharpening has been applied.
With each of the shot elements chosen and arranged to adhere to a strict complementary scheme, it seems likely that those elements were masked and ‘tied together’ in post-production; the skin tones are uniform, the reds are all on-brand, and the harmony of the sea/sky all suggest gradient mapping or similar.
We have a couple of examples from a second camera on this shoot, so we can be sure that the backgrounds were composited;
This would have made colour treating the background elements much easier, simply a case of matching them to a swatch provided by the teal complement to the red.
We spoke to retoucher Rufina Breskin who worked on the shoot;
I worked in a talented team at http://rnduk.com/retouch.html, a lot of the work in these images was colour work. It’s usually a collaborative effort by a few creatives to produce the high standard that these luxury campaigns require. The “as shot” images are not the original images, they are shot to the side on a different lens by a different person, so people are often amazed at the difference.
As always the key is to start with a shot that’s well lit, well posed, and well composed; colour/contrast adjustments, a sheen of dodge and burn, and sharpening will get you the rest of the way. It just needs a little colour theory.
Let us know in the comments below if there are any techniques here that you’d like us to cover in depth in future technical tutorials.
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