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Color Correction, Touch Ups, and  February 4, 2016 – 05:50 am

Basics of Photoshop: Color Correction, Touch Ups, and EnhancementsNow that you know the tools Photoshop has to offer, we're going to take a look at using them to correct and alter color, retouch blemishes and other unwanted parts of your photos, and enhance portraits to make the subject look especially good.

Welcome to the second lesson in our Basics of Photoshop series. The main lesson is the video above and the text below is for reference. Most of what you're going to learn here is best demonstrated in the video, so watching it is the best way to learn. In this lesson we're going to be covering three things: color correction, photo retouching, and photo enhancing. We're going to look at basic ways to perform these tasks and nothing too complex, but you'll find that these simple methods are very powerful and can handle the majority of what you'll want to do with your photos.

Color correction is a lot easier than you think. You just need to know which colors are complimentary (meaning on the opposite end of the color wheel) and you can use those to cancel out too much of another color. (If you need a refresher on color, check out our color guide.) You also need to be able to spot where colors are the most prominent. This means being able to tell, for example, when red is dominating the light areas of the photo and blue is dominating the dark areas.Basics of Photoshop: Color Correction, Touch Ups, and Enhancements If you simple applied a blue filter to the entire photo, you'd end up with more neutral highlights—which you want—but a photo that looks too cool because the shadows are overly saturated with blue color. To recap, you need to pay attention to two major things when color correcting: which colors are dominating the photograph and which colors aren't, and also where, tonally, those dominating colors exist.

This is something you can generally do just by eying the photo, but the proper method is to consult the histogram. You can bring this up by going into the Window menu and choosing Histogram. The left side represents the shadows, the right side the highlights, leaving the middle for the midtones. If a particular color is dominating the photo in any area, you'll see it dominating that space on the histogram. This can be a handy guide for spotting necessary corrections.

Basics of Photoshop: Color Correction, Touch Ups, and EnhancementsNow that you've got a basic idea of what we're going to be targeting, let's take a look at some of the best color balancing tools Photoshop has to offer. You can find all the adjustments we'll be discussing in the following places:

  • You can find standard adjustments that apply to a single layer by going to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments, then choosing the adjustment you want.
  • If you want to create an adjustment layer that can apply to multiple layers and be adjusted after the first application you can create an adjustment layer. You can either do this by going into the Layers menu, choosing Adjustment Layer, and then selecting the adjustment you want, or just selecting the adjustment you want from the Adjustments palette.

Color Balance

Color Balance is not a very flexible tool, but sometimes you just need minor adjustments to color and you can use Color Balance to apply them quickly. If the brightest parts of your photo are just a little bit too red—something that's common with photos taken in low light—you can just select the Highlights radio button and then move the sliders towards cyan and blue a bit until you start to see the colors look a bit more balanced and neutral. You can also use Color Balance to create some interesting color effects by emphasizing different colors in the shadows, midtones, and highlights. Play around with it and get a feel for what it can do. It's not a tool you want to use most of the time, since Curves will generally help you do everything better and with more flexibility, but for quick changes Color Balance can definitely be useful.

Basics of Photoshop: Color Correction, Touch Ups, and Enhancements Basics of Photoshop: Color Correction, Touch Ups, and Enhancements


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