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28. Hue/Saturation


Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

Video: 28. Hue/Saturation

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #28 is Hue/Saturation and even though Hue/Saturation is growing a little bit long in the tooth. It's somewhat rickety as you'll see. It continues to do something that no other function inside of Photoshop does. You can modify one color independently of all other colors inside of an image and you can do so from one central dialog box or palette, so it's very easy as you will see, and it's extremely effective.
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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

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There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

28. Hue/Saturation

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #28 is Hue/Saturation and even though Hue/Saturation is growing a little bit long in the tooth. It's somewhat rickety as you'll see. It continues to do something that no other function inside of Photoshop does. You can modify one color independently of all other colors inside of an image and you can do so from one central dialog box or palette, so it's very easy as you will see, and it's extremely effective.

You can create all kinds of credible effects. It works very nicely. And that is why Hue/Saturation earns a place on my Top 40 list today. Now, I am looking at a photograph by T. Tulic and this could not be a more perfect demonstration of the Hue/Saturation function, because this woman is holding a hue wheel in back of her. She's holding this amazing rainbow umbrella here. And it's just a horizontally flipped version of the hue wheel that's at work inside of Photoshop. So the colors transition around the wheel from red into yellow, so through orange right there, into green, cyan, blue and then presumably magenta behind her chartreuse sweater and then back into red.

Now this chartreuse sweater goes to the heart of my problem with this image. I actually think the image looks totally great except I'm just not happy with her sweater choice, not because the colors is too garish, but because for two reasons actually. First, it too closely matches the green foliage of the background here. So I want more contrast. And I think it makes her skin look a little bit sallow, makes her look slightly jaundiced. If we warm-up her sweater, we might warm- up her flesh as well, and I want to get rid of this green reflection in her hair. I don't think that's contributing anything to the image at this point.

These are all corrections we can make using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Now, if you are working inside Photoshop CS3 or earlier, you would go down here to this Black/White icon, click on it, and choose Hue/Saturation. That's going to bring up a dialog box and you will work from there. However, I'm working inside Photoshop CS4. So I am going to switch over to the Adjustments palette, and I am going to click on the second icon in the second row. Actually, I am going to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and click on that icon to invoke the New Layer dialog box, and I am going to go ahead and name this layer color shifter, because that's what we are going to be doing is shifting colors inside the image, and then I'll click OK.

Now, notice these sliders right here. They are the same sliders that are available to you inside of CS3 and earlier. We also have this Colorize checkbox. If you turn on Colorize, you are going to replace all of the Hue values and all of the Saturation values as well with one Hue/Saturation combination, and by default that ends up being a low saturation red. That's not what we want to do, so I will go ahead and turn off Colorize. Otherwise you've got these three sliders at work here. I am going to explain them from the bottom up because it gets better and better as we go upward.

Lightness is not the best option. In fact, it's by far the worst option inside of this dialog box. If I reduce the Lightness value, I make white darker, I keep black where it is. So what I end up doing is compressing the shadows. I totally obliterate the highlights and the image looks awful. Whereas if I increase the Lightness value, it gets even worse. I go ahead and make black lighter, keep white where it is, compress the highlights, completely obliterate the shadows and the image looks hideously washed out like this, which is why 999 times out of a thousand, you're going to leave Lightness alone.

There are much better ways to adjust luminance inside of Photoshop. This is a bad way. Much better inside of this dialog box is Saturation, which allows you to either increase the intensity of colors, and of course I'm going way over at the top here to 100. You want to apply more subtle modifications when you're adjusting Saturation. You can also reduce the Saturation value to -100, in which case you're going to end up with a grayscale image. Now, this is not the best way to generate a grayscale image inside of Photoshop. We saw the best way when I showed you feature #36 Black And White.

But this is a way it's available to you. All right, let's go ahead and reset Saturation to 0, then there's the Hue value. The Hue value is unlike anything available otherwise inside of Photoshop, because it has no constraints. You can completely modify the hues across the board. And I was telling you that hues are measured on a wheel much like this umbrella. So think in terms of degrees. There are 360 degrees in a circle and you can modify the Hue value to -180 degrees or +180 degrees, which describes a complete circle.

And as you do, notice how you're rotating those hues around that umbrella, watch the colors rotate around the umbrella there, and you could also see the colors inside of her flesh change, the colors inside of the background and on and on. You also have these two color ramps down here which are going to show you the before colors on top and the after colors on bottom. So in other words, Cyan is getting mapped to green, blue is getting mapped to cyan, magenta is getting mapped to blue and so on and so on. You may find that helpful. It's there if you want it. Of course watching the changes on -screen is very helpful indeed.

Now, let's say at this point I look at the sweater and I think it looks great. This is the color I would like to see for the sweater, I would like to be sort of this peachy sort of slightly yellowish color at this point. That's fine. However, it really comes at the expense of her face. It's like we've smooshed a strawberry on her, a big giant strawberry, don't you know? And spring has turned into fall in the background, and the colors inside of the umbrella have gone to heck. So this is no good. She has got weird sort of bluish highlights on her lips. Just isn't going to work for us. And that's why you want to be able to modify some colors independently of other colors inside of Photoshop.

And you can do that from either the dialog box or the Adjustments palette. I will reset the Hue value to 0. If you're working inside Photoshop CS3, you would click on Master, the little Master pop-up menu, and you would choose one of these options here, Reds, Yellows, Greens, Cyans, Blues or Magentas, and I was telling you that's how it works across the color wheel. We have reds going into yellow, going into green, cyan, then blue, and then of course magenta behind her sweater there. And those are the regions of color inside the image and so you can change all the reds independently of all yellows and greens and so on.

And it's going to be a nice sloping drop-off. So it's not going to look like suddenly the colors are changing on you. It's going to look very organic and nice. Now, it gets even better inside of Photoshop CS4 because you have this guy right there, which is the Target Adjustment tool. We saw it when we looked at feature #36, Black & White. It's here inside Hue/Saturation as well and what it allows you to do is drag directly inside the image and change either the Saturation values or the Hue values on-the-fly selectively, so just in that region of color that you're dragging on. So I will go ahead and click on this tool to select it.

Again, it's new to Photoshop CS4. And then to demonstrate how the tool works with no keys down, I'm going to drag in this area of blue right here. If I drag to the right, I'm going to increase the saturation of those blues. So you're modifying saturation when you drag. Notice right here that I am seeing Blues selected inside the Adjustments palette. So Photoshop did that for me automatically. It isolated the blues and then it increased the Saturation value to +100 because I dragged so far to the right. If I drag to the left like so, I'm going to reduce the Saturation value, again just for the blues, because I am dragging inside a blue region of the image. All right.

Let's go ahead and reset that value to 0. I just want you to see that that's how it works if you just drag with the tool. More useful for our purposes is the ability to Ctrl+Drag with the tool. That's Command+Drag on the Mac, which changes the Hue value. So I am going to press and hold the Ctrl key here on the PC, that'd be the Command key on the Mac, and I am going to drag inside of her sweater and notice as I do, I'm changing those colors inside of her sweater independently of the other colors inside the image. Now, it looks like I am changing a lot of the image at once. I want you to notice what's not changing, the red portion of the umbrella is not changing, nor are the blues or the cyans or the greens.

What is changing is the yellows. Now, that may surprise you since her sweater started up being greenish, right at chartreuse. But where Photoshop is concerned, let me show you something here. I will go ahead and reset the Hue value to 0. This area right there, I am not dragging on it, I'm just pointing to it. That's green but the background foliage falls more in the yellow zone and this is just true of grass green. Grass green falls inside the yellow zone inside Photoshop. That goes for her sweater as well and much of her skin. Her skin is informed by both yellow and red.

So changing either yellow or red is going to mess up the skin, as we saw in just a moment ago. But again I am going to press the Ctrl key, Command key on the Mac and I am going to drag inside the sweater, and I am going to drag over, look at the Adjustments palette in the upper- right corner of the screen if you will. You'll see that Yellows is automatically selected and I've reduced the Hue value to -60 because I've Ctrl+Dragged or Command+Dragged a little bit over to left. All right. And this is the color that I am looking for, for the sweater more or less, mas o menos. It will change a little bit as we finesse the results here. I also want to reduce the Saturation a little bit.

So I will drag to the left, once again, inside the sweater to until I get a Saturation value of -20, and you can see that represented over here inside the palette. All right. So this is not truly acceptable, I know. I think it's better maybe than if we had changed all the colors inside the image, because we've retained some of the colors inside the umbrella here, but we have still messed up the background. It still looks like, well I am not sure that's fall. That's like sort of a radioactive fall in the background there, and then her face is quite red as well.

What we need to do is we need to finesse the color range. So just because it says Yellows doesn't mean we need to stick with the Yellows. We can actually adjust that Yellow range and it's represented right here toward the bottom of the palette, at the bottom of the dialog box. Notice this sort of triangle or trapezoid right here and then there is a bar, another bar and another trapezoid, what have you. Well the bars represent the absolute range of colors that are getting modified. This yellow zone right here, that's getting remapped to red as you can see. But also we have these light gray regions, which are the drop-off zones so that we're getting soft transitions between the modified colors and the unmodified colors.

And you can actually adjust this range just by dragging, for example, inside the light gray. So I'm going to drag over until I see those values. Notice those values with a \ between them. They're changing on the fly, as I drag inside that light gray area. So I have got 120 degrees going to 150 degrees and 120 degrees is green by the way. 60 degrees is yellow, 0 degrees red. These are just things you know as you work inside Photoshop overtime. But it's not really important because you can see that you're working inside the green zone right here.

I am going to go ahead and back off this trapezoid here, so this represents the end of my drop-off to 145 degrees, just to turn things up a bit. Now that doesn't seem like we're doing any good at this point, because I just incorporated the greens in my modification. I did this with a purpose so I want to give myself more room to work on this side, because I need to move this guy right here in order to open up the colors interface, notice that. If I drag this light gray area over to the right a little bit, I restore the colors interface quite a bit and I am going to move this over until the first value, the value before the slash and the far left side of the palette is 29 degrees and then I am going to drag the bar directly until that second value is 77 degrees and these are just values that I discovered worked quite well for this image.

Now, notice if I turn off this eyeball here, then you can see that the colors inside the face really haven't changed very much. So this is the before version of the image with the chartreuse sweater, and this is the after version of the image. I'm still changing the background quite a bit. I am obviously changing her sweater, I'm still affecting the umbrella, but I'm not affecting the colors inside her face. I can't sacrifice those. I need those to hold up under scrutiny here. Now, notice that Photoshop has gone ahead and automatically switched my range from Yellows to Greens, because now I'm working more in the Green zone here.

And if you bring up the pop-up menu, you will see that we now have two greens. So yellow switched over to greens. Greens becomes greens too. We don't care. They can all be anything at this point. They can all be modified on the fly. All right. So we still somehow need to restore the background to its original color and restore the umbrella as well. I'm working inside of an adjustment layer which automatically has a layer mask assigned to it, so I can paint inside that layer mask in order to protect more colors, I am going to do that using yet another Top 40 feature the Brush tool.

Go ahead and click on that tool select it. Notice that black is my foreground color which means that I can mask away some of my Hue/Saturation adjustment layer by painting, and I am going to increase the size of my Brush Cursor by pressing the Right Bracket key a few times and then I am going to paint in the background in order to restore those original green colors. I will paint over the top of the umbrella as well to restore that area. You don't want to paint over the colors that you're trying to change. For example, if I were to click on her shoulder there, I would create this weird chartreuse highlight right there in her shoulder which looks like the sweater faded or something ghastly along those lines.

Go ahead and zoom in to correct that if you were to accidentally do such a thing. Then you would press the X key to swap your foreground and background color, so that the foreground color is now white, and then you would paint inside that shoulder to reinstate the good peach colors right there. I also want to paint along this arm here to reinstate the peach right there at that location. Now, I do have a little bit of a problem if I zoom in here. You will that I have a little bit of a problem where we have fall transitioning into spring in the background. I want to tidy that up, make it look better.

So I'm going to reduce the size of my brush and then I am going to increase the hardness by pressing Shift+] a couple of times and I am going to press the X key in order to switch the foreground color back to black, and I am just going to paint along her arm like so in order to paint back in the good green foliage in the background. All right. Let's go ahead and zoom out once again. And finally I want to make sure that we're not harming the hair incidentally. Notice that she had some terrific green highlights going on inside of the hair. And when I say terrific, I mean undesirable. I don't like them.

They are just over the top terrific. I will go ahead and turn the adjustment layer back on. Press the X key so that I'm painting with white, because I want to paint back in my adjustment layer and I will paint over her hair like so in order to paint back in the warmth. And then, I am going to press the X key in order to paint with black again. I'm going to reduce the hardness of my brush by pressing Shift+Left Bracket a couple of times, so we have a nice soft brush. And I'm going to paint over her eyes, because she did have a little bit of differently colored highlight going on inside those eyes and I'd like to preserve that. All right.

Now, let's go ahead and zoom out and this is the final version of the effect folks. Go ahead and switch to my Rectangular Marquee tool, turn the layer off so you can see the before version of the image, oh, my gosh it's so green, so much green going on, not only her sweater but also the green reflections on her hair. And this is the after version of the image. Notice how beautiful that sweater looks. The high degree of contrast that we have between foreground and background, and look how her hair looks. Her hair looks splendid against this new sweater. It looks better than it did before, which is amazing.

So in other words, Hue/Saturation acts like a built-in mask. It's doing this masking here on the fly, thanks to the settings that we applied here inside the Adjustments palette. And that is the power of feature #28, Hue/Saturation, here inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40 .

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Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
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