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Color Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 1 of 6

Class Introduction: Color Theory

Ben Willmore

Color Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction: Color Theory

Lesson Info

Class Introduction: Color Theory

In this section we're going to take a look at color adjustments. Now when it comes to color adjustments, there are a bunch of choices, but there are two general varieties we're going to use. One of them is what I would call a warm cool adjustment which is where we're gonna have sliders where if I move it in one direction my image is going to become warmer. That means more yellow, orange, red. And if I move the same slider the opposite direction we get the opposite which is it's going to become cooler which means more blue, cyan green. And that's what I call a warm cool adjustment. Then the second type of adjustment is quite different and it's one where it's going to spin colors around a color wheel meaning it's good for color manipulation where if I have a blue car and I want it to be a red car then I'm gonna go for the kind that spins things around a color wheel. But before I get into any of these I wanna mention that you should always try to get the most out of your images. If your i...

mage is captured as a RAW file, do so in Adobe Camera RAW, 'cause it's the only time when Photoshop has access to all the information your camera captured. And therefore if I wanna color correct a picture, first place I'm gonna go to is Camera RAW. If I wanna make slight changes to the color, I'm gonna do it in Camera RAW. And it's only when I get to something that is difficult or impossible to do in Camera RAW that I'm gonna rely on the techniques we talk about here in this lesson. But I bring that up because a lot of people assume that I just skip Camera Raw 'cause I don't use it in this particular lesson. Well it's because this class is about Photoshop and we gotta get into those adjustments. So let's take a look. So first let's take a look at what I would call a warm cool adjustment. And one of those would be color balance. If I use color balance you're gonna find there are sliders. And you're gonna find a warm color on one end of the slider like red or magenta or yellow and you're gonna find a cool color on the opposite side of the same sliders like cyan, green, and blue. And the reason why you find that with these sliders is every color has an opposite where in this case the opposite of red is cyan. And that's why they're at opposite ends of the same slider. And what that means is any time that you increase the amount of red in the image it's like having a seesaw or teeter totter. If you're increasing one side, you're automatically decreasing its opposite. And so in here if I move this towards green, there's no way for me to move it towards green and towards Magenta at the same time because the two colors are opposites. Green absorbs Magenta. And the opposite of blue is yellow. Now notice in here that we have the colors of red, green, and blue. Well you're gonna find many adjustments in Photoshop that are warm cool adjustments will only show you those three colors. For instance here is levels, and it offers the choices of red, green, and blue. Or if I come in here and use curves, it also offers red, green, and blue. Well anytime you see those choices, only those three choices isolated where you don't file purple and yellow and other colors in the same menu, but instead it's just red, green, and blue. That's because your picture is in RGB mode, and that means behind the scenes it's made out of red, green, and blue, and it's allowing you to adjust those components. But the main thing to keep aware of is any time you see those three colors, all three of them have opposites, and if I were to go into color balance I'd see those opposites. And so it would be useful overtime if you were eventually to remember the opposite of red, green, and blue, because it is so common that you find those three colors listed in Photoshop, but it's not gonna list their opposites. And that means I might choose a menu called blue, even though I'm thinking about its opposite color. I wanna make something look more yellow, but I just don't have a menu called yellow. I have one called blue. If you know that they're opposites of each other, then reducing the amount of blue is the same as increasing the amount of yellow. So one way to remind yourself of the opposites is to either go to the adjustment I just showed you or to come up here to the window menu and open the info pallet. In the info pallet with default settings you'll usually find RGB which stands for red, green, and blue, directly across from their opposites, which is cyan, magenta, and yellow. And I often have this panel open when I'm adjusting the color of a picture, so if I just glance up at it, if I don't recall the opposite of red, green, and blue, I just glance over there to see what they are. Now if you're gonna end up using this panel, I like having it be small because I don't need to know the information that usually appears at the bottom and I don't want it hogging my screen real estate so I'm gonna go to the side menu of the info panel. And remember, I got that panel to appear by going to the window menu. This lists all the panels you could possibly have. Then I'll go to the side menu of the info panel and choose panel options. And I'm gonna turn off these check boxes that are found at the bottom. And by turning those off when I clock OK, that panel will become smaller, and therefore I don't mind leaving it open on my screen. It's not hogging the space so much.

Class Description


  • Utilize the numbers in the Info Panel for precision adjustments
  • Understand how to isolate and shift colors using a Hue/Saturation adjustment
  • Color Correct an image using Curves
  • Apply a Gradient Map to simulate sunrise or sunset
  • Match color between images or objects


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)

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Karen K Hafenstein

I have 120 years of teachers in my family. I have seen a lot of natural teachers and Ben Willmore is one of the best. The preparation he does for his classes is amazing. His dialogue throughout hits every detail and shows his prowess as an instructor. Thank you, Ben!! I always loved Photoshop but now I actually understand it!