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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.
Now that you have a feel for the big Color Wheel let's see how to rotate hues and modify saturation values using one of the Photoshop's most powerful features a Hue Saturation Adjustment layer. I've opened this image called Yellow slats.psd, and notice that we have two layers, one is the background layer which contains these slats of wood painted yellow and then I have a reduced version of the Color Wheel with all the important stuff in it. That is we can see the Saturation going from low to full volume along each of these spokes and we can see the Hue is represented around the perimeter and we see the main hues that is red, yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta, and once again red positioned at each of the 60 degree increments.
Now what's amazing about this is you have full and unbridled control over color values inside of Photoshop. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to bring up the Adjustments panel, and because it's covering up the all-important Color Wheel I'm going to go ahead and drag this blank area to the right of the word Masks over to the left so we have a Floating Adjustments panel, and then I'm going to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and hover over the second icon in the second row which is Hue/Saturation, click on it with Alt or Option+Down and you will be invited to name the new layer.
I'm just going to call it hue & sat, because those are the attributes we're going to be changing. And I'll click OK and that fills the Adjustments panel with the Hue/Saturation and Lightness options here. Now the Hue value can vary from -180 to +180 degrees, so you have the full 360-degree Color Wheel covered. And if I start reducing this value, watch red in particular. Rotate in a counter-clock wise direction around this Color Wheel to the point where if I reduce this value all the way to -60 then I displace yellow with red and I displace green with yellow and cyan with green and blue with cyan and magenta with blue, and what was formerly red with magenta, and as a result all of these slats of yellow wood are now red in the background and a very vivid red as well, you have to bear in mind.
When you rotate the hues inside of Photoshop a color might become much more saturated than it was before or much less saturated. It's just a function of the relative saturation of each of the hue values. Now if I wanted to change everything that's yellow like these yellow slats of wood here to green instead, then I would displace what was formerly yellow with green which would mean I need to rotate the colors in the clock-wise fashion so I would change the Hue value from -60 to just plain old +60 and get this result here. If I wanted to make the slats violet instead, I would change this value to -120 and you can experiment with that value to your heart's content.
I'm going to click on the word Hue to select the numerical value and I'm going to change that value to -20 in order to rotate the yellows more toward a kind of pumpkin-orange here. Then I'm going to Tab my way down to the Saturation value. Now check this out, if I increase Saturation all the way to a hundred, I end up infusing gray with color. So you can see that I'm bringing out the most vivid possible colors even from the absolute center of that Color Wheel. Now most of the other color values in the image were very close to full intensity in the first place so we're not seeing that much difference there.
If you reduce this Saturation value you're ultimately going to decline the color intensity to absolute gray as we see it here. Now I prefer to see something in the - 40 zone which will deliver these low saturation orange slats. Then there is Lightness, now I don't think much of the Lightness value inside the Adjustments panel because it ends up creating a low contrast image, no matter what. So if you raise the value, notice you're increasing the brightness of black, you no longer have anything resembling shadows inside the image and you squish the remaining colors inside of a smaller area of the histogram.
Whereas if you reduce the Lightness value, once again you squish the colors, but this time you squish them towards the shadows. You completely and altogether lose your highlights. So this is rarely an option unless you're applying it extremely selectively. This is rarely an option that you set to anything other than zero. Finally we have this Colorize check box and that replaces all of the Hue and Saturation values inside the image with just one Hue value and one Saturation value a piece, otherwise the luminance is left unchanged.
So I'll go ahead and turn on Colorize so you can see what I mean. Everything becomes red because the Hue value is 0 degrees, and by the way that's where things start. 0 degrees starts on the right-hand side of the wheel, then 60 degrees is yellow, 120 is green, 180 is cyan, 240 is blue, 270 is magenta all way back to 360 which is red again. And you can see that represented by this Preview inside of the slider Bar.
So if you change the value to 30 for example you'll see that you're at orange inside the slider Bar and sure enough you're seeing a low intensity orange here in the background. If you want to increase the intensity of the colors inside the image then you increase the Saturation value. At 100% you're seeing full on orange everywhere inside the image. Notice though that the original luminance information from black to white remains intact so you still have all your shadows, all your highlights, and all your mid-tones. No if you want a kind of Sepia effect you probably go with the Hue value in the 30 range, you might click that value and press Shift+Up Arrow or something to take it up to 40 and then you would reduce the Saturation value to something along the lines of 30%.
It works pretty darn well with a photographic image, you can produce that Sepia effect very quickly using a combination of values around this range with Colorize turned on. There are better ways to work. I'll show you that when we take a look at the Gradient Map command in a much later exercise. In the next exercise we'll see how you can adjust one range of hues independently of another.
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