Lessons Photoshop. Topic 4. Color correction. Lesson 2. Change the color of a photo with the color balance tool (Topic)

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Lessons Photoshop. Topic 4. Color correction. Lesson 2. Change the color of a photo with the color balance tool


In this tutorial, we'll walk you through the details of how to use the color balance tool in Adobe Photoshop.

Color balance in Photoshop.

The advent of photography made it possible to transfer the concept of "memory" from the virtual-mental world to the physical world. Faces of great-great-grandfathers and parents look at us from yellowed old photos. Yes, and ourselves at the age of "going under the table." The advent of color photography and digital photography sparked a revolution again. The simplicity of the process, the ease of storage (thousands of images fit on a standard hard drive) have given new meaning to the pictures. Today it is not only a memory, but also a mood, sensations, an illustration of the worldview.

All this, of course, is good. But in a barrel of honey, as you know, a fly in the ointment is often found. When we talk about color photography, color also acts as tar. But not the one we would like to see.

Examples? Yes, as much as necessary. Hazy colors of a spring landscape, an earthy "dead man's face" instead of a tan, colored reflections and highlights on the most important parts of the picture.

And here you cannot do without correction. The creators of Adobe Photoshop looked into the water, saturating the program with various shade correction tools. Starting from changing the color of the eyes and ending with a global shift in the gamut of the entire image.

Today we will consider one of such tools. It is not as intimidating as levels and curves (when working with channels). Moreover, the palette and setting of properties are implemented very clearly and simply. This, of course, is about a tool called "color balance". We will study its properties on a familiar picture of a lake in the outskirts of Minsk.

Some theory

Given the specifics of color balance, it is worth repeating the theory of color coding. At least remember what RGB and CMYK color spaces are. You can read more about this in the tutorial "Select by color in Photoshop". For those who do not bother reading the seed, we will briefly repeat it.

Both models encode color in a three-dimensional coordinate system (remember algebra and geometry in grade 6 of high school). The idea is taken from a physics course. Remember that the white color, refracting, breaks down into colored components. Here, too, each axis has its own color. Combining base colors in different saturations gives the resulting hue.

RGB space is natural. The three basic colors (red, blue and green) are mixed at full brightness to give white. An example from life - three spotlights on the stage.

However, physically, there are no paints that mixed in one bucket would turn white. Therefore, for printing, use the CMYK system (Cyan (Cyan), Magenta (Magenta), Yellow (Yellow), Black). Cyan, magenta and yellow combine to give a rich dark gray. The fourth component, black, serves to "support the shadows".

There is another interesting feature. On the color wheel, RGB and CMYK are opposite each other. In other words, they form the following contrasting pairs of blue - yellow, blue-red, crimson-green. By reducing, for example, the presence of blue in the gamut, we will inevitably emphasize the red shades. Removing yellow - blue. By getting rid of the raspberry, we will strengthen the green.

This is the principle behind the Color Balance tool.

Practical part

Before starting the practical work, it is worth recalling at least two tips from Adobe.

Perform color work on a calibrated monitor. That is, with settings that ensure that the color displayed on the screen looks the same in reality. Otherwise, there is a danger that on another computer you yourself will be horrified by the results of your work

Try not to change the color of the base layer. Duplicate immediately. And color correct the copy.

It's time to get started.

There are two main ways to invoke the color balance tool:

Via the menu " Image " - " correction " - " color balance "

By pressing CTRL+B

on the keyboard

Call the color balance palette in Photoshop

The appeared tool palette is extremely simple. On the right are the standard buttons OK, cancel and set the preview (we strongly recommend that you enable it)

The main block consists of three linear change bars with a slider in the middle. They are built on the principle of RGB and CMYK contrast. The color combinations "blue-yellow", "cyan-red" and "raspberry-green" are interrelated. Moving the slider towards one of them reduces the presence of the second.

Three points below are worth paying attention to. With the Color Balance tool, you change the color of the shadows, midtones, and highlights individually. To select a range, a dot is placed opposite the corresponding inscription.

work with color balance in Photoshop

That is, you can, for example, increase the presence of green in areas of light and at the same time get rid of it “in the shadows”.

In our case, everything is simple. By emphasizing the green, we reduce the amount of magenta, yellow, and possibly reds. For each range in its own way. In the form of an algorithm, it looks like this:

  • Make a copy of the layer
  • Go to the copy and select the color balance tool
  • Check the box next to the word " preview ". This will allow you to see the results of the change in real time.
  • Starting with “ shadows ” change the color of the image in each of the ranges. Remember, good work is slow work. The first correction may fail. So start with the shadows, go to the zone of light. And then - the second round. If necessary - the third and so on.
  • Finish work by clicking OK

Note : Note the check mark next to the words “ Keep Glow ”. This option "protects" light and shadow transitions from loss of contrast. If the glow preservation option is not activated, there is a danger of getting a “faded” image as a result.

An illustration of this is in the picture below.

An important option to keep sharpness

After you have changed the color, apply the desired blending modes and adjust the opacity of the top layer.

If necessary, use a soft brush to erase the information on the top layer in areas where color correction is not needed.

For more information on this technique, see the previous lesson.

Now it's worth paying attention to one feature that we mentioned only in passing.

Any tool of Adobe Photoshop works with the selected part of the selected layer. If no selection is specified - with the entire layer. But not with the whole image. This is important .

Look at the picture below. The light areas of the forest behind the lake, after a general color change in the photo, turned a bright yellow tint.

Not all image areas are the same after changing colors

You can create another copy of the background and work on this area separately. The algorithm is as follows:

  • Make two copies of the background
  • Turn off the visibility of the top (last copy). To do this, just click on the eye-shaped icon to the left of the layer thumbnail
  • Go to the visible copy, change its color
  • Adjust layer blend and opacity
  • Erase areas on the copies that you think have acquired an unwanted tint.
  • Select the transparent (erased areas) on the layer. For example, the Quick Selection tool or B Magic Wand
  • Set the feathering of the selection. More on this in the lesson "How to make the edges of a photo semi-transparent"
  • Without removing the selection, go to the next layer, turn on its visibility and press the " DEL " button.
  • Invert the selection with the keyboard shortcut CTRL + I or through the menu " Selection " - " Invert ". Thus, on the top layer, already processed zones will be selected (which you do not need to work with)
  • Clicking the "DEL " buttons, erase them. Only the “problem areas” will remain on the layer.
  • Change the color of this layer, adjust the blend and opacity.

Note : Feathering is required for selection. Otherwise, jagged sharp edges of the color transition are obtained. This is a sign of inept correction. And such a photo looks like a C grade.

But there is an easier way.

It is also based on selection, but avoids creating unnecessary layers.

  • Make one (!) copy of the layer.
  • Correct the image in any known way.
  • After the problem areas appear, select them. The most suitable tool is a selection by color. This method allows you to identify even the smallest areas in different parts of the photo. In addition, the "undocumented feature" of the tool is the selection of semi-transparent pixels.
  • Set the feathering of the selection area. Choose the feathering radius based on the size of the photo. For sizes up to 1000 pixels along any of the axes, the radius is 2 pixels. more than enough.

Pay attention to the feathering of the selection. allows you to achieve a smooth color transition

  • Call the Color Balance tool (or any other tool).
  • Perform color correction
  • Adjust the blending modes and opacity of the top layer.
  • As a result, as you can see in the picture below, the bright yellow in the background is no longer so annoying. The green shades were added, which was required to obtain the "May Day" effect.

Choosing the right layer blend mode - 60% success

Note : Don't try to get rid of extraneous colors entirely. Otherwise the photo will look unnatural.

For example, in the case of our sample, the yellow tints remained in the grass in the foreground and in the foliage of the distant forest. Naturally, our sun is yellow. And on a bright day, the lack of glare would look unnatural.


Tip : actively look for the best options. Don't stop with a single blend mode. Sometimes the most interesting results are produced by seemingly unnatural regimes.

Successful and fruitful work!

The Topic of Article: Lessons Photoshop. Topic 4. Color correction. Lesson 2. Change the color of a photo with the color balance tool.
Author: Jake Pinkman