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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
Not only is Variations more intuitive and it provides the more demonstrational approach, but it's also more powerful, because it gives you control over Luminance, that is the brightness of the image, as well as Saturation, which is the color intensity. So, we now have three versions of this image open, Better balance.psd, the results of the Color Balance adjustment layer, then Variations edit.jpg, which is the result of the Variations command in the previous exercise, then we've got Tough boys.jpg, which is the original colorcast image.
With Tough boys.jpg active, I'll go to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and choose Variations or press that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+V, Command+Option+V on the Mac. Notice that it goes ahead and loads up my previous correction, by default. So, you don't have to force Variations to load the last correction. It does it for you, which is great, if you didn't get it right. You press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Then you just go ahead and choose the Variations command again, securing the knowledge that you can revisit your last modifications. All right! Now what I'm going to do is modify the luminance information inside of this image.
So, this is going to be an entirely different, not necessarily better correction for what it's worth. Let's say, I want to increase the contrast of the image. So, I'll switch over to Highlights. You can modify the colors of the Highlights, if you want to. I don't typically do that inside of Variations. I find it clunky for that purpose. But it is very useful for adjusting luminance. So, let's say we want to make the Highlights brighter. I'll move this Fine-Coarse slider triangle back to the middle and I'll click on Lighter. Now, don't be put off by these weird colors that start showing up inside the thumbnails.
That's a function of Show Clipping, which is ostensibly designed to show you whether your Highlights are going to clip to white or your Shadows are going to clip to black or your more saturated colors are going to flatten out when you print them. The problem with this option is that it has no real awareness of what your printer is. So, it's not properly calibrated. It's actually, terribly misleading. I suggest you turn it off, so that you don't see any of those strange and awful color warnings. Next, I'm going to switch to Shadows. I'm going to make my Shadows darker by clicking on Darker once, maybe twice, actually, in order to really burn them in.
Then I'm going to switch back to Midtones and click on Darker to make my image appear a little bit moodier. Now, thanks to the fact that I've darkened my Shadows and my Midtones to the degree that I have, I've increased the intensity of the colors. That means I need to beck off the Saturation just a little bit. So, I'm going to click on the Saturation radio button right there. You can see that if I click on the More Saturation thumbnail, my colors are going to be unnaturally vivid. If I click on Less Colors, then they're going to be unnaturally muted.
So, in order to mitigate that, I'm going to go ahead and drag the slider triangle a couple of clicks over to the left, like so. Then click on Less Saturation. If I feel like that goes too far, I could drag the slider triangle all the way to Fine and click on More Saturation. Something to bear in mind about these Less and More thumbnails or any of the opposing thumbnails for that matter: if I switch back to Midtones, More Yellow and More Blue are, of course, opposing each other. Those opposing thumbnails absolutely cancel each other.
So, if I clicked on More Yellow and then clicked on More Blue, I would get right back to that same result. So, basically, Variations as long as we are inside the dialog box, presents us with a perfect world in which Lighter is exactly opposite of Darker and More Red is exactly opposite of More Cyan and so on. Anyway, let's say this is the modification we want. Then I'd go ahead and click on the OK button in order to accept that edit. You can see it is different. It is moodier. It is a darker image.
But that's what I wanted and that's what I got, thanks to the Variations command!
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