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Correcting color casts using the Variations command

From: Photo Restoration with Photoshop

Video: Correcting color casts using the Variations command

Of all of the types of color-correction methods there are in Photoshop, I think the least thought of may be Variations. Variations are not very well known, if they're even known at all, to the casual Photoshop user. It's just not something there's a lot of use for, that I can think of, unless you want to put a colorcast on or--in the case of restoration--take one off of an image. Everyone who does digital photo restoration should know where Variations can be found and should at least have a look at them when going through the other color-correction methods.

Correcting color casts using the Variations command

Of all of the types of color-correction methods there are in Photoshop, I think the least thought of may be Variations. Variations are not very well known, if they're even known at all, to the casual Photoshop user. It's just not something there's a lot of use for, that I can think of, unless you want to put a colorcast on or--in the case of restoration--take one off of an image. Everyone who does digital photo restoration should know where Variations can be found and should at least have a look at them when going through the other color-correction methods.

Begin by duplicating the original layer using Ctrl+J on a PC, Command+J on a Mac. Variations aren't an adjustment layer, so the adjustment will take place on the layer itself, and you want to keep your original intact. Now let's go to Image > Adjustments, and down to Variations. Let's have a quick look at the Variations dialog. At the top, to the left, is your original image, and the image on the right will reflect the changes as you make them. If at any time you want to go back to the original and delete all of the changes you've made, hold down the Alt or Option keys and the Cancel button will turn into a Reset button.

Here are the different settings you can make adjustments to. There are Shadows, Midtones, Highlights, and Saturation. Notice this very blue, turquoise area right here. That's called Clipping, and it represents areas in the image that are clipped, or rendered pure white or pure black by the adjustment. It doesn't mean that the areas will actually show up as black and white. It means that clipping can result in some unattractive color shifts. If you don't want to see where these areas might occur, you can uncheck the Show Clipping box here.

You can make some further adjustments with the Fine/Course adjustment slider here. Let's press Alt or Option and select the Reset button to work in the Midtones option. I end up working in Midtones probably 98% of the time; it's the default option and seems to work well most of the time. There are six Variation options: More Green, More Yellow, More Cyan, More Blue, More Magenta, and More Red. The results of these are cumulative.

So if you hit a Variation twice, you get twice the application of that color or the colors that you put on top of other colors. For instance, if we put More Green and then again More Green, it gets very green. You can put More Cyan and it just adds it on top, one after the other, so you want to keep that in mind. Again, we'll hit Alt or Option to reset. We want to cancel the red cast on this photo. And looking at all of the Variation options, cyan seems to be our best option.

So we'll go ahead and click that and then look again at the Variation options, and it looks like another shot of cyan might be just the thing. These show what the image will look like when you use the next color. So again, let's hit cyan and look, and maybe we'll put another layer of blue on top of that. Let's go up to the top. Here's the current pick, with our three layers of cyan and our layer of blue next to the original, and we can see it's a pretty dramatic difference that Variation has made.

When you've made all the adjustments you want, simply click OK to accept. Again, let's look at the before and the after. And it may not be perfect. We may need to go ahead and put our Curves or Levels Adjustment on it, but it's a really good start, and it definitely got the red out. Variations are a little-known, even less-used, feature of Photoshop, but every feature, even the underappreciated ones, can usually be useful for something, and Variations can be a wonderful color-correction tool.

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This video is part of

Image for Photo Restoration with Photoshop
Photo Restoration with Photoshop

70 video lessons · 16540 viewers

Janine Smith
Author

 
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  1. 1m 33s
    1. Welcome
      48s
    2. What you should know before watching this course
      13s
    3. Using the exercise files
      32s
  2. 16m 47s
    1. Customizing your workspace
      2m 17s
    2. Using layers
      1m 58s
    3. Assessing the damage
      1m 52s
    4. Rebuilding color channels in a grayscale image
      3m 47s
    5. Using a Black & White adjustment layer
      1m 57s
    6. Using the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Patch tools
      4m 56s
  3. 27m 30s
    1. Fixing a faded black-and-white photo
      2m 20s
    2. Removing small splits, specks, and spots
      3m 44s
    3. Repairing red-eye
      4m 58s
    4. Reducing paper texture
      4m 34s
    5. Reducing dot patterns in printed photos
      3m 51s
    6. Fixing lens distortion
      4m 19s
    7. Straightening a crooked image
      3m 44s
  4. 24m 16s
    1. Fixing large rips, tears, and other damage
      3m 9s
    2. Removing long scratches
      3m 24s
    3. Fixing creases
      5m 8s
    4. Stitching large photos using Photomerge
      3m 17s
    5. Reassembling torn photos
      4m 56s
    6. Replacing missing pieces
      4m 22s
  5. 27m 55s
    1. Removing stains
      3m 48s
    2. Removing ink marks
      2m 34s
    3. Repairing adhesive tape damage on a black-and-white photo
      2m 14s
    4. Repairing adhesive tape damage on a color photo
      6m 1s
    5. Fixing mold damage
      5m 20s
    6. Reducing starburst light glare
      5m 11s
    7. Reducing eyeglass light glare
      2m 47s
  6. 21m 32s
    1. Understanding the basics of levels
      2m 50s
    2. Understanding the basics of curves
      3m 29s
    3. Finding the black, white, and gray points in an image
      3m 28s
    4. Adjusting color levels by channel
      1m 58s
    5. Making selective contrast adjustments
      4m 48s
    6. Adjusting image shadows and highlights
      4m 59s
  7. 18m 13s
    1. Adjusting color with the Photo Filter adjustment
      2m 23s
    2. Correcting color casts using inverse color correction
      3m 2s
    3. Correcting color problems using the Color Balance adjustment
      3m 19s
    4. Correcting color casts using the Variations command
      3m 55s
    5. Correcting color by combining levels and curves
      1m 44s
    6. Improving color by adjusting the hue and saturation
      3m 50s
  8. 33m 14s
    1. Removing distracting elements
      5m 35s
    2. Repairing and recreating backgrounds
      7m 43s
    3. Extracting areas using masks
      5m 5s
    4. Matching colors in elements you add
      4m 11s
    5. Matching textures
      4m 45s
    6. Replacing facial features and missing body parts
      5m 55s
  9. 29m 59s
    1. Converting to black and white
      4m 48s
    2. Enhancing faded color
      3m 30s
    3. Smoothing a subject's skin
      4m 2s
    4. Enhancing black-and-white photos with duotone
      2m 34s
    5. Enhancing the eyes
      4m 10s
    6. Bringing out facial features with light
      5m 22s
    7. Sharpening
      5m 33s
  10. 32m 32s
    1. Assessing the damage
      1m 26s
    2. Repairing the crack
      1m 52s
    3. Replacing the missing body parts
      3m 5s
    4. Removing the specks, spots, and scratches
      3m 7s
    5. Fixing the missing corner
      1m 14s
    6. Lightening the stains
      5m 22s
    7. Restoring the faded tone in the face
      3m 8s
    8. Balancing the tone in the image
      1m 58s
    9. Evening the color with a Black & White adjustment layer
      49s
    10. Cleaning up the image
      2m 24s
    11. Adding definition to the face
      2m 20s
    12. Softening the image
      58s
    13. Sharpening the image
      2m 4s
    14. Bringing back some of the original tone
      1m 34s
    15. Comparing the image before and after
      1m 11s
  11. 24s
    1. Final thoughts
      24s

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