In our latest edition of Mextures Sessions we sit down with Nikki Pinkham (@521gemini) to explore the how and why of her approach to editing her signature style of mood and minimal blending. This tutorial coincides perfectly with the release of her brand new pack of guest formulas. So, after you finish reading about the intent behind each step of Nikki's editing process, be sure to go into the app to experiment with more of her formulas!
I started out using Superimpose to add the image of the figure. I then took it into Mextures to see how my saved formulas looked when applied. I'm mostly looking for the correct lighting and trying to check the perspective and sizing of the figure.
I started fresh with this image because I wanted to create a formula from scratch. I always start my Mextures edits in either Vintage Gradients or Landscape Enhance and then change the blending mode to either multiple or darken. That is what helps to give my edits a darker feel. I like to go through one by one and see which blending mode creates lighting in the right areas. For this edit I landed on Winter Skies and I used the multiply blending mode. I liked how it darkened the sky and centered the focus on the figure. I also wanted to make sure the ground area in front of the figure had enough light so that I wouldn't lose detail.
Because I wanted a bit of a darker mood, I went into the film preset options. Again, my focus is more on the lighting rather than color because color can always be adjusted. I chose the Punch film preset because of the high contrast look it brought to the image.
I then adjusted the temperature to bring a bluer wash over the image and desaturated it as well. For the mood I generally go for I either desaturate or go monochrome.
I felt like the image still needed a little something so I added the Blizzard overlay from Grit and Grain. To get it to really pop on my darker images, I have learned that changing the blending mode to color dodge does the trick.
The last tweak that I made was to bring the exposure up to brighten the center a bit.
When I first started using Mextures I felt like all of the layers were too happy and bright for my work. I really spent a lot of time playing with the endless amount of options available in the app to find a level of gloominess that I was satisfied with.
Formula: Dark Light
I started out in Superimpose again for this image. From there I went straight to Mextures of course. I am always looking at lighting first and for this one I had to pay close attention to the light on the right side of the nightgown to ensure it "felt" right. First, I added the Vintage Gradient, Vintage, and changed the blending mode to soft light. I wasn't really sure if it looked right, so I changed it to black and white so that I could just focus on the light rather than the colors. I liked how the soft light blending mode highlighted the fog in this image. From there I went to the film presets and used Misty. This is one of my favorites and I use it often.
I tend to play around with my edits by trying different things until I find something that feels right. I wanted to see how it looked in color so took it back to color and desaturated it. I also played with the fade and contrast to achieve a moody look that wasn't overly faded.
I love the Grunge layers and Frozen is by far one of my all time favorites to use. I feel that they bring a depth to the image that can sometimes get lost during the editing process.
At this point, I liked the look but I wanted the image to feel darker because of the pose of the figure. So I went back to black and white and set it to a silver/blue.
What I love most about Mextures are the endless possibilities. Once I figured out how to get the look and mood that I wanted I was hooked. Honestly, it did take some time to for me to learn, but playing with the app was part of the fun.