Monday, December 28, 2009

Boosting And Enhancing Colors


In this tutorial you will learn how to boost the colors through the Vibrance adjustment and Color Balance. Within the Vibrance adjustment you can saturate/desaturate colors without causing problems to skin tones. With the Color Balance, it will allow you to change the colors of the shadows, midtones and the highlights. Between the 2 tools, you can boost and enhance colors of any image. Throughout the course, we will give you additional tips and tricks on how to enhance your images even further.


Currently we are using Windows Vista Home Premium 64 Bit and the Photoshop CS4 Extended 64 Bit version.


Knowledge You Need to Know:

If you are unfamiliar with certain areas that are not covered in this tutorial, feel free check out other tutorials on our website. We have many different types of tutorials that can be downloaded (Video, PDF) or viewed online that will train you for free! Once you have the knowledge, feel free to come back and go through this tutorial again.


Preparing For This Tutorial:

You will be using a picture of me in front of decorated tree. If you do not have this image, please scroll down to the “Click Picture To Download Supporting Files” image and download the file. Please open the image PE-TREE in the Photoshop Program.


Vibrance Adjustment:

In Photoshop CS4 a new adjustment was added that gives you a nice color boost without killing the skin tones of a person. Vibrance adjustment is saturation without causing too many problems with the skin tones. You might be wondering what is color saturation? Color saturation is how vivid and intense a color is and adds a boost to the colors.


Left click the “Image” menu and move your mouse pointer down to “Adjustments” and then Left click the “Vibrance…” command.

Vibrance Menu


Let’s talk about the Vibrance dialog box.


A). If you move the mouse pointer to the up arrow and hold down the Left mouse button and drag it left or right, you will adjust the vibrance level. Release the Left mouse button when you are happy with the changes. The vibrance is an enhanced saturation method which allows very little changes to skin tones. The common problem with saturation is it adjusts everything in the image and usually causes problems to skin tones.


B). You can also enter a numeric value in the vibrance and saturation text boxes. Left click the box and enter a value. **On this example, enter 100 in the saturation text box. Photoshop Tip – To enter a negative value, begin the number with an “-“.


C). Move your mouse pointer to the up arrow and hold down the Left mouse button and drag it left or right. Release the Left mouse button when the changes look good for the saturation. Remember the saturation gives colors a boost. For this example, make sure that the saturation level is to the far right (don’t worry it is going to look bad).


D). Make sure the “Preview” option is checked so you can see the changes as you make the adjustments.

  E). When you are done making the adjustments, Left click the “OK” button to apply the changes. For this tutorial, Left click the “OK” button. If you are not happy with the changes, Left click the “Cancel” button.

Vibrance Dialog Box


See saturation does not know any better and it tries to enhance the colors, including your skin. This usually causes a redness/yellowish change in a caucasian skin tone. As you can see below it did a good job on the tree, but made the skin look bad.

100 Saturation


**To undo the changes, use CTRL-“Z”. Now let’s just use the Vibrance option only. It will boost the colors and does a good job at not changing the skin tone. It does change the skin tone, but very little. Get back into the Vibrance adjustment dialog box and this time move the Vibrance slider bar all the way to the right or enter a value of 100 in the Vibrance text box. Left click the “OK” button to apply the changes.

Vibrance Dialog Box


You will notice it did darken the skin a bit and changed the color, but remember we cranked it up to 100 and if we brought it down to 75, it would look better. We wanted you to see the comparison of the vibrance versus the saturation at 100. Notice how the colors in the tree still look great?

Applied Vibrance


So should you always stay away from saturation option when enhancing an image? NO! First if you have an image with no skin tones, use the saturation option to boost your colors. It will do a better job. Also sometimes when you do have skin tones, the skin is washed out and you need to add some colors to the skin to make it look less pale. This is when you will use both. In those cases, we use saturation first and turn it up to get the color right (usually keep it a little light) and then we play with the vibrance option.


Other Uses For Vibrance Adjustment:

In the Dodge, Burn, And Sponge Tools we showed you one way to make a black and white image (desaturate with the Sponge tool). Here is one more way to make a black and white image (there are many ways in Photoshop to make a black and white photo).


On this example, do a CTRL-“Z” to undo the changes. Get back into the Vibrance Adjustment and move the saturation slider all the way to the left hand side of the slider bar. Left click the “OK” button to proceed with the tutorial. Photoshop Tip – Any negative number for saturation will remove colors from the image. By removing all the colors, we are left with a black and white image.

Vibrance Black And White


In future tutorials we will be talking about other ways (better) to make a black and white photo. For now here is are the results of desaturation.

Black And White


Color Balance Adjustment:

With the Color Balance adjustment it allows you add and take away certain colors and allows you to balance the colors. **Please use the history palette and go back to the open state of this tutorial or re-open this image.


Back in the Straight To Curves tutorial we explained what the shadows, midtones, highlights are of an image. It is important that you understand these terms. Basically, shadows are your darker areas and the midtones are the grays and the highlights are your light areas of an image. Please take a moment and review this other tutorial so that you have a very good understanding of this terminology. Ok, let’s proceed with this tutorial.


Left click the “Image” menu and move your mouse pointer to the “Adjustments”. Now move your mouse pointer over and down to the “Color Balance…” command. Left click this command. Photoshop Tip – Use CTRL-“B” as the keyboard shortcut to get into the Color Balance dialog box.
Color Balance Menu


Because there is a lot to cover in this screen, we are going to break it up into 2 screenshots for you.


A). If you make adjustments to the Cyan/Red (top color bar) this value will change for each tone balance (shadows, midtones, highlights).


B). If you make adjustments to the Magenta/Green (middle color bar) this value will change for each tone balance (shadows, midtones, highlights).


C). If you make adjustments to the Yellow/Blue (bottom color bar) this value will change for each tone balance (shadows, midtones, highlights).


D). Because you understand what the tone balances are from a previous tutorial, this will come easy to you. You can change the colors for the shadows, midtones, or highlights by Left clicking on a specific radio box to select the tone balance. Photoshop Tip – You have to adjust the colors for the Tone Balance separately.

  E). Make sure the “Preview” box is checked. This will allow you to see the changes on your actual image as you make the changes in this dialog box.
  F). Left click the “OK” button if your happy with the changes or Left click the “Cancel” button to disregard the changes.

Color Balance Dialog Box


Let’s understand the color slider bars. On this example, please change the tone balance to “Shadows” and set the numeric value for the Color Levels as -3, 17, 0 in the text boxes. For all color slider lines, use the up arrow to adjust. Move your mouse pointer to the correct color slider line and hold down the Left mouse button and drag it left or right. Release the Left mouse button when you are satisfied with the changes.


A). The Cyan color is located on the left and the Red on the right hand side. As you move it towards one direction, you will get more of that color (indirectly less of the other color) for the tone balance.


B). The Magenta is on the left hand side and the Green is on the right hand side. Use the color slider bar and as you move it towards a certain color, it will begin changing those colors for that tone balance.


C). The Yellow is located on the left hand side and the Blue is located on the right hand side. Use the slider bar to move it towards either the yellow or blue.


D). When you are making adjustments, you are only adjusting for a specific Tone Balance (shadows, midtones, or highlights).

Shadows Color Balance


Change the Tone Balance to the midtones. Now make the following adjustments for this example. -3, 3, -1.

Midtones Color Balance


Finally, the Highlights. We used 1, -6, -4.

Highlights Color Balance


Here is the end result after the changes to the Color Balance only. Not perfect, but much better. There is greener in the tree and certain areas look better. If you spent your time adjusting the Color Balance, you will find that you can fix most color problems of a photo.

Color Balance Final Image


Color Balance And Vibrance Adjustment:

Because we talked about both subjects in this tutorial, let’s show you when you take the above color balance and give it some vibrance.

Color Balance And Vibrance


Additional Tips:

As we stated in previous tutorials, it is best to mix and match the Photoshop Adjustments. You will get excellent results. By now you should know how to use the Brightness/Contrast, Autos, Curves, Levels, and the Exposure from other tutorials. Each tool in Photoshop will fix a specific problem. Don’t worry we are not done yet with adjustments and there are a few more beginner tricks in this Photoshop bag to help you to enhance your photos.


Do you want to only enhance just a specific area of the photo? As we explained in previous tutorials, you can always make a selection around areas that you want to adjust. This leaves the rest of the image untouched.


Before And After:

Sometimes it is hard to tell what changes Photoshop made to an image. Remember, these 2 different adjustments were done very quickly for this tutorial. If you took your time and used other Photoshop adjustments, you could make this image look awesome. For now, here is the before and after for the 2 tools we learned today in this tutorial.

Before And After Image



You now learned how to use the Vibrance adjustment in Photoshop CS4. This does a great job at making colors look good, without causing problems to skin tones. We also showed you how you can make a black and white photo in the Vibrance adjustment. In the Color Balance, we explained how to increase or decrease a specific tone (shadows, midtones, highlights). Then we wrapped up with giving you a few additional tips and tricks to help you improve your colors of an image.


Please take a few minutes and answer the 10 question multiple choice quiz below. This will allow you to see how much knowledge you have learned in this tutorial.

10 Question Quiz


1). The Vibrance slider bar in the Vibrance Adjustment does what?


A). Causes all pixels to shake and vibrate which can be saved as an animated GIF file.


B). Vibrance allows to only invert the colors which will enhance the image.


C). It only desaturates/saturates image colors.


D). It desaturates/saturates image colors, except skin tones.

2). What command do you run in the Adjustments sub-menu to get to the Color Balance dialog box?


A). Color Correction.


B). Color Adjustment.


C). Color Balance.


D). Hue/Saturation.

3). When you change the saturation to 100 in the Vibrance Adjustment dialog, what colors does it usually change a caucasian skin tone to?


A). Red and Pink.


B). Red and Yellow.


C). Pink and Gray.


D). It leaves the skin tone roughly the same colors.

4). How do you make a black and white photo in the Vibrance Adjustment dialog box?


A). Move the saturation slider bar to the far left.


B). Move the saturation slider bar to the far right.


C). Move the saturation slider bar to the far left and the Vibrance to the far right.


D). You can’t make a black and white photo in the Vibrance Adjustment.

5). What are the 3 different Tone Balances in the Color Balance dialog box called?


A). Shadows, Light, Gray.


B). Shadows, Highlights, Midtones.


C). Light, Dark, Gray.


D). Black, White, Gray.

6). In the Color Balance, the far right text box that you enter a numeric value is controlled by what slider bar?


A). Cyan and Red.


B). Magenta and Green.


C). Yellow and Blue.


D). Magenta and Red.

7). To fix all the colors at once in the Color Balance, what option do you need to use?


A). Left click the Master color option below the tone balances.


B). Left click the Preset drop down list and Left click the “Master” color option.


C). Left click the image of the lock below the tone balances. This locks all the tone balances together.


D). There is no way to adjust all the colors at once from this dialog box. You will need to fix each tone balance.

8). Color Saturation does what?


A). If increased it adds a boost to the colors and makes the colors more vivid and intense.


B). It acts like a sponge and makes the image look dull or even washed out.


C). It only controls the brightness of a pixel.


D). If you increase the saturation, it will cause the image to go black and white.

9). Name 1 color that is NOT listed in text in the color slider bar in the Color Balance dialog box?


A). Magenta.


B). Cyan.


C). Black.

  D). Yellow.

10). We used a +17 to get more green in the tree in the Color Balance screen, but why did we pick Shadows as a Tone Balance?


A). Because there were shadows underneath the branches.


B). Because the tree is one of the darkest parts of the image and the shadows option effects the dark areas.


C). Because the tree is the biggest part of the image and when you choose shadows it looks for the largest similar area of an image.

  D). Because Shadows are the only area you need to adjust to fine tune your whole image.

Answers: 1). D, 2). C, 3). B, 4). A, 5). B, 6). C, 7). D, 8). A, 9). C, 10). B




0 - 5 = Please review the video tutorial and re-read this document either offline (PDF) or online.

6 – 8 = We would recommend that you print this document off and read it at a later time.

9 – 10 = Congratulations you have passed the quiz. Go ahead and view another tutorial on our site.


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