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Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 6 of 13

Saturation Maps

Ben Willmore

Advanced Adjustment Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

6. Saturation Maps
Create a unique adjustment layer that will allow you to create a unique selection that varies based on the saturation of your image. That way you’ll be able to add contrast to the mellow colors without affecting the vivid areas within an image.

Lesson Info

Saturation Maps

we've been talking a lot about color adjustments. Now let's shift a bit and talk about tonal adjustments. Whenever I mention a total adjustment, I really mean a brightness or contrast adjustment. And so let's look at some special techniques we can use in this case. What I'd like to do is add contrast to the image, but not everywhere. I want to only add it to the areas that do not contain much color. So how can you isolate areas that don't contain much color? Well you can do that with a saturation map. How do I make a saturation map? I go over here and make an adjustment layer. The type of adjustment layer I'd like is called selective color and in selective color. What I need to do is set this setting down here to absolute. Then this starts off with reds selected and what I want to do is take the areas that usually are red and make it so there's no black in them whatsoever. Then I need to switch to every one of these colors and do the exact same thing until I've made it through all of t...

hem, Bringing the blacks down for every single one that's going to end up making those areas very bright. Then after that you're gonna find three areas that do not contain color. These are areas that you'd have in a black and white photograph. So I'll choose whites and I'm going to move the black slider all the way up to say make those areas dark, going to go to neutral. So I'm gonna do the same thing and I'm going to go to blacks and I'm going to do the same thing now, what we should end up with is a black and white image where the brightness is based on how colorful the image was, Where the only areas in here that are white are areas that were colorful in the areas in here that are black or areas that had no color whatsoever. And if their shades of gray, those areas were partially colorful. But this is just a black and white image and I want it to be a selection. How do I get it to be a selection? Well you can take the brightness of your current image and turn it into a selection by going to the channels panel. You move your mouse onto this little thumbnail image next to the letters RGB and you hold down the command key and click command, click on the little thumbnail for RGB and that means load the brightness of that information in as a selection. But that gave me the very colorful areas selected. I want the exact opposite. So I'll go to the select menu and choose inverse to get the opposite. Now, what you should do though is before you leave selective color is come up here to the very top words preset, click on that menu and this is where I want to have a preset called saturation map. So I never need to go through that process again to make a preset that will show up in that menu, go to the upper right corner and right here you can say select, save selective color preset and when it comes up it will ask you for an area to save it in and just don't change the default location because these are, this is the area where it will load those in in that menu so just give it a name up here, I call mine saturation map, I'm not going to save one because I already have it up here so I can easily get to it now, I can throw away that adjustment layer because I only wanted it to get this selection and then I'm gonna come in here and apply an adjustment. I'll use curves because that allows me to do the most and I'll just grab that little hand tool, I'm going to click on a dark area like right here just to lock it in so it doesn't change. And then I'll click on a bright area and I'm going to drag it straight up and that's going to add contrast because it will be a bigger difference between bright and dark but it's not happening to the areas that are really colorful, it's only happening to the areas that were not very colorful and therefore I could bring it out of those not very colorful areas. I can throw that adjustment layer away. And another thing I could do with this is I could come in and choose re select. That will bring back the last election I had and I could instead over here to human saturation. And this is equivalent to creating my own custom vibrance adjustment. This is similar to what vibrance does, but now I can control how colorful areas are based on their how saturated they were before. I can also fine tune this by adjusting the mask. Just apply levels or curves to the mask.

Class Description


  • Precisely match the color of two objects
  • Change black objects to any color.
  • Add drama to dull overcast skies.
  • Apply multiple adjustments in a single adjustment layer.
  • Utilize uncommon settings such as Knockout.


Are you looking to up your adjustment skills so you can be more effective and efficient by utilizing a wider range of advanced features? Do you run into features in Photoshop that you do not utilize such as Knockout Deep, Knockout Shallow, Pass Through mode and wonder how you could utilize them? Then this class is for you.

Ben has been pushing Photoshop to its limits for over 30 years. Learn his best tips and tricks for getting the most out of Photoshop’s adjustments.

You’ll be able to tackle a much wider range of challenges once you expand the range of features you use on a daily basis. You’ll also reduce guesswork while increasing the precision of your adjustments.


  • People who are generally experienced using Photoshop, but want to push their skills to a more advanced level.
  • Those who want to tackle difficult tasks efficiently.
  • People who want to understand the more powerful and less commonly used features in Photoshop.


Adobe Photoshop 2021 (V22.5.0)


As a photographer, Ben Willmore has shot in all 50 states and explored over 80 countries. He has been pushing Photoshop and Lightroom Classic to their limits since the beginning. Ben is part of a select group of non-employees that Adobe trusts with pre-release beta versions of their software so he can have a voice in the future direction of their software. He has written more than a dozen books on digital imaging that have been translated into 9 languages, has written over 100 articles for major magazines, and was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame. He has been a featured speaker at events on all seven continents where he has taught well over 100,000 people.

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Alicia Orth

I've been using Photoshop for years and still learned lots of great tips from this class. Would love to see more classes like this.

Eric Johnson

Terrific - lots of great information. Way to go Ben!

Marco Basile

Really enjoyed how succinct and sharp the presentation was. Great information I hadn't seen elsewhere. Thank you Ben.