Join Taz Tally for an in-depth discussion in this video Intro to the color tools, part of Photoshop CS3 Color Correction.
- [Instructor] In this section, I'd like to introduce you to the fundamental tools that you're going to use to evaluate and correct images in Photoshop. And these fundamental tools, as you'll see, will form the basis for almost all the other tools that you will be introduced to in Photoshop in various courses along the way and various learning experiences. But if you master these basic tools in Photoshop, then you'll really be able to go on and do anything else, and you'll find out that you may venture off into other tools and come back and use these fundamentals for most of your corrections. Okay, the first tool we want to talk about is basically the Channels palette, or Channels panel, as it is now called in Photoshop CS3.
And pretty much all these panels are available to you underneath the Windows menu. And some of them have built-in keyboard shortcuts, such as Layers, F7. Channels does not, but I've created a keyboard shortcut, as you can see here, and I'll show you how to do that in another chapter. The reason why Channels is important is that Channels shows you the basic building blocks of your image. And we're going to dig in a little bit deeper in another chapter, but just to kind of get you started thinking about this, one of the main points that we're going to make, and we talk about the basic building blocks of Photoshop images, all of your color images are basically made up of grayscale channels, as you can see here.
Red, green, and blue, and basically nothing but grayscale, which is why grayscale is the foundation for correcting all color in color images. Your Channels palette provides you access to the basic building blocks, and these are building block channels. These are not alpha channels. Those are something completely different. In fact, it's unfortunate that they have the same name, called channels, because the two are completely separate. An alpha channel is strictly a place to store selections and edit and reload them. These are basic building block channels that create the foundation for your color image.
So that's the first real tool that we're going to have access to as the basic building blocks. Okay, the next tool is called Levels. This we access underneath the Image and Adjustments menu, and you get to Levels. Notice the keyboard shortcut, Command + L, or Control + L. The reason why Levels is important is very similar to Channels, in that it provides us with basic foundation information about our image. Where Channels shows you the basic building blocks of your image, what Levels is, Levels is a type of histogram.
And, in this case, it's an editable histogram that is, a histogram that you can edit. But what this is so fundamentally important for is it shows you where the data is in your image and how it's distributed. This is the highlight end, this is the shadow end, and then this is a midtone, and these are sliders that can be used for editing. We'll get into how to do the measurements. Now I just want to introduce you to the fundamental concept of what it is and what it shows. And I'm opening up the Levels dialog for this Zip in the Yukon image. And we can see by looking at this that we've got data all the way from the highlight to the shadow, but a good portion of this image is well south of the midtone, is between the midtone and the shadow.
And when you look at this image, sure enough, you can see, most of it is midtone to shadow. And the height of the peaks that you see here are corresponding with how much data there is in this image. And after working with these for a while, you begin to correlate data peaks, such as this big peak here, with various portions of the image, such as this large gray peak, King's Throne, back here, right, corresponds to that portion of this histogram. And as you get more and more facility with this, you'll be able to glean more and more information out of these images by looking at histograms like Levels, and then you'll be able to edit your images.
Also notice that, because there are three channels, red, green, and blue, there are also three histograms, red, green, and blue, that you can navigate through with your keyboard shortcuts, Command + 1, 2, 3, Control + 1, 2, 3, and we're going to be using these to both evaluate and correct images by being able to look at and edit the data on each of the three channels. Okay, so, there's these channels, and then there's Levels, with the master RGB histogram, and individual histograms as well. Okay, I'm going to go ahead and close that, and I want to show you a different type of histogram display.
This is also underneath Windows, and it's called Histogram. And what this allows you to do, this is strictly a display that allows you to see the master histogram and when you go to All Channels view, see all three histograms at once. So this is an informational display. It doesn't allow you to actually edit your image, but it gives you an all-in-one display of your image as you see it up on screen. So that's pretty nifty. It's not as powerful as Levels, 'cause it doesn't give you editability, but it does give you a display all at one time both for your master channel and all three channels.
Okay, the next tool I want to introduce you to is called the Info palette. The Info panel is an important one that we're going to use in conjunction with our editable histograms, and our histograms, to evaluate and correct our images. You're going to need the Windows menu, and then Info. F8 is the common keyboard shortcut in both Mac and Windows. In fact, throughout the Creative Suite, when you type F8, it brings up an Info palette of some sort, or an Info panel. And what this actually allows us to do is access quantitatively, that is, actually data about our image, and this can be set up to measure the data in our image in any number of ways.
Typically, when we're doing color correction, we might set it up like this to show RGB on one side and CMYK on the other. And in just a little bit, we're going to figure out what all these numbers mean and how we can use them to help evaluate and correct our images. But by using our histogram to actually view where the data is graphically, and the Info palette to actually measure the data, we have two very powerful tools for helping us evaluate and correct our image. And then, finally, the last fundamental tool that we will work with is the actual Layers palette. The reason why the Layers palette is important, and notice the Layers and Channels are basically in the same palette group by default, and you can pull either one of these out at any time to access them, the reason why the Layers palette is important, not so much as an evaluation but as a correction tool, is that we're going to be using Layers palette to create correction, or what we call adjustment layers.
So, when we want to bring up the Levels dialog box to edit our image, we're going to be creating one of these as an adjustment layer. And the reason why this is important is, whenever you go into Levels without an adjustment layer, and you make an adjustment and then you click OK, you've actually altered the data in your image and, typically, removed data or combined data in your image. What this allows you to do is non-destructively apply levels and other corrections to your images without actually affecting your base image until you flatten your file.
So the Layers palette is very important, in that we can apply corrections without actually damaging our image. So they're kind of provisional corrections, if you will. Now, in addition to levels, we're also going to be able to create curve correction layers. Now, what is the Curve tool? Well, let's go down here and just get in the habit of creating these Curve and Levels correction layers. Curves is another tool that we can use besides Levels for correcting our image. And for those of you who are used to Photoshop CS2 and before, you'll notice that the Curves tool, there's a lot more to it now.
And, in fact, one of the really nice things is that we can now display our histogram kind of in the background of Curves, if you want to. And you can control which end of the curve you have the highlight on, by just clicking on one of these two buttons down here. More detail on that later. And what the Curve tool allows you to do is, like the Levels tool, edit the distribution of data in your image. With highlight and highlight on these two ends, we can adjust brightness and contrast by using our Curves tool. It's a little bit more conceptual than just working in Levels, 'cause you don't see quite as much data, but having that histogram underlay like we have here is going to be very, very helpful in terms of being able to see where the data is in our image and what we're actually doing.
So, Curves and Levels are the two fundamental tools that we'll actually be using to adjust where the data is in our image. And each one of those will provide as an adjustment layer. So, there's our fundamental tools that we'll be working in Photoshop, just to introduce you to them.
- Setting up Photoshop CS3 for color correction
- Managing images with Bridge CS3
- Understanding color image fundamentals
- Evaluating images quickly and accurately
- Determining whether to correct or adjust
- Evaluating and fixing physical characteristics
- Fine-tuning brightness and contrast
- Proofing and gamut testing