The color ranges of photographs and paintings are very different. The signature look of a digital color photo is due to factors like the light gathering censor, the common color relationships found in the world, the limitations of RGB-based color mixtures, and more. Pigment-based paint is not constrained by these limitations. Consequently, we have very different perceptions when viewing each of these mediums. The Vibrance filter is a great tool for juicing up color photography, to move it more towards pigment color prior to painting. Let's take a look.
So here's our scene that we're going to be working with throughout the title here. We're going to go to the Image menu and go to Adjustments, and right here is the Vibrance filter. So let's open this up. And just as a way of showing you what Vibrance does, I'm first going to turn up saturation. Now this isn't a very highly saturated, and so it's just not necessarily going to blow it out into psychedelic colors, but you can see what's happening here is all the colors across the board everywhere are being equally jacked up in their saturation.
Now let's go to the Vibrance filter and I'll crank it all the way up, and you'll see something different is happening here. One of the things that it does is it increases less saturated colors of an image while preventing over saturation. So it's intelligently applying saturation to prevent situations where too much saturation is going to occur. The other thing that's very important, and it isn't very important in this scene, but it can be in portraiture, is that skin tones are protected to avoid clipping.
So basically, colors in the red area of the color space tend to be handled a little differently, and that way it avoids skin tones getting all blown out into the very bright red colors. Now the thing about this is this is a very subjective adjustment, just like a lot of other things we're looking at here. So I can't tell you you should turn this up to 34. There is no right number. It's precisely based on what you think looks right. You're going to hear me say this over and over throughout the title, and that's why this is artistic decisions.
These aren't darkroom decisions where you're trying to do the exact same set of movements in a formulaic-like way. Each one of these is very much based on your subjective feel about the image. So some people may want an image that looks very overly saturated, and that's their prerogative, and there's nothing wrong with it. So you may end up wanting to use Vibrance, and there is nothing with at least seeing what a little more saturation does, but the basic idea behind this--if we turn Preview off--is you want to get away from the standard colors that you find in a digital image and move them more towards the kinds of colors that you're going to find in a painting. Because pigment paint is not constrained like photographic colors are, you're going to get a much broader and wider array of bright color within it.
So if you can pre-color an image with things like Vibrance to add a little bit of oomph to the image and do what I called juice it up, you're moving it away, again, from the language of photography into the language of painting.
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