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Color Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 3 of 6

Hue and Saturation Adjustments

Ben Willmore

Color Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

3. Hue and Saturation Adjustments

Lesson Info

Hue and Saturation Adjustments

Of course, if you ever look at an image and you just say this needs to be more yellow, this needs to be more blue or any other color of that list of red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, I would end up using that adjustment. But now let's look at a different type of adjustment, and this is a kind that, works with a color wheel. And let's look at the most common adjustment related to it. I'm gonna do an adjustment layer that's called hue saturation. In there, I'm gonna have three kinds of sliders, hue, saturation, and lightness. Hue means basic color. Saturation means how vivid is the color, and lightness means how bright or dark it is. Let's see what those adjustments do to this particular image. First, let's adjust lightness and you'll find it as the worst brightness adjustment available in all of Photoshop. It's what you would not wanna use in general on a picture. But, it will become useful once we've isolated one particular color. Then we can adjust how bright or dark that color...

is. Above that we have saturation, which controls how colorful the images, if we turn it down, it becomes less colorful, turn it all the way down, you have no color whatsoever. Turn it up and it becomes more colorful. Push it too far and certain colors get way over done. When you make a color get over done, what happens is it loses all detail. So if a color used to have a texture within it, like the weave of fabric, or anything like that, suddenly that detail goes away when you reach a point that's known as saturation clipping. We have a bunch of it in the image right now where there's no detail in those extremely bright areas. Then the last slider is called hue, and hue means basic color. And when we move it, it's going to change the basic color of everything in the picture. And it's gonna be kinda weird. Be kind of fun just to keep going around in a circle. But if you look at that top slider, the bar it's attached to, do you notice the color on the left side, the left edge of it is identical to the color on the far right edge? That's because you could take all the colors that are in that bar, you could take the bar and bend it until the two ends touch. And if you did, you'd end up with a color wheel, it would be a circle, where it would be seamless where the color on the right side matches the color on the left. And that's why I say it's going to spin things around a color wheel. Now if you look at the two bars at the bottom, that gives you a better clue as to what's gonna happen when you do hue. Imagine that the top bar is what you started with and the bottom bar is what you're gonna end up with. So if you're thinking about this blue jar that's right here, then pay attention to blue down here. And if you go straight down from it right now it's blue, blue things are blue. But watch what happens when I move the hue slider. Well, that blue jar should now be what color according to those two bars, green, look over at the image, you see that it is green, keep going. And now it should be becoming a more yellowish color. And then keep going and it's gonna become orangish because orangish is now below that. Now I've moved this slider as far as I possibly can, and I wish I could get the red to show up. Well I can. We're just at the end of the slide right now. That means is I got to move it the opposite direction. And then eventually I'll be able to get red under there. And now if you look at the jar, you'll find that it's reddish, keep going and I might be able to get orangish again. But the top bar indicates what you started with, the bottom is what you're ending up with. So if we ended up adjusting this so that blue things became red, that's not the only change we made, because look at what happened to all the other colors. Simultaneously red things are now gonna be green, yellow, things are gonna be cyan, green things are gonna be blue, and so we get a weird looking end result, especially if there's recognizable things like green grass, blue skies and skin tones. Well, this is going to do some weird stuff. But what makes this adjustment extremely useful, is the fact that there's a menu up near the top here that usually says Master, it shouldn't really be called master, it should be called everything. Which means it affects everything when it's set to that. But if I click here, you're going to find a total of six colors listed. And by choosing these we can isolate colors, so all we're changing are things that used to be red or yellow or green. So if I only want to change the green jars that are up here, watch what happens to in between the two bars we were looking at before when I change this to greens. Do you see what just showed up there? Well, when you see little things in between these two bars, it means you're only gonna change the colors or hues that are found above those bars. And therefore we're not gonna change reds, magentas, blues, or cyans at all. And so if that is sitting there, watch what happens now when I move the hue slider. Look over here and notice when I move it these areas are not gonna change at all. It's only these areas that will change. So if I move this around, you see that only that area is changing. The only problem is, I was thinking I was working on green, and if I actually look at my picture, over here are some green jars that didn't change. This one on the far left did but not these two. And that's because they might have been over here in the more cyan range, or somewhere else. I'll show you how to further isolate things. But first, let's work on a few images with this. Look at this, we have a green umbrella, what if I wanted it to be red or some other color? Well, I could do a hue and saturation adjustment layer, and I don't have to change that menu manually like I did a minute ago. Because if this little hand tool is pushed in, then when I click on my picture, it's gonna change this menu to match the color of whatever I click on within my image. That little icon I always have it turned on when I get into hue and saturation, and you can cause that to happen by going to the side menu on hue and saturation and turning on this setting. Now when I move my mouse into my image, and I click on this umbrella, watch what happens in the curves, not curves the hue and saturation adjustment. you don't need to look at the picture, just look at the adjustment. Look at the two bars that are found at the bottom and look at the pop up menu that is currently set to master. When I clicked, you notice the menu change the greens, and those little bars appear above green. Well now I could come in here and attempt to adjust this, I can make all the greens turned black and white by bringing this slider all the way down for saturation, where I can make it more colorful, but eventually if it gets too colorful, the detail goes away. That's known as saturation clipping. Or if I want the umbrella to be slightly brighter or darker shade of green, I could do so. If I wanna change its basic color, I can change the hue. Now there might be other things within this image that are green and this might not isolate it quite precisely. I'll show you how to be more precise later. But, for now it's nice knowing that I can make that radical of a change, where all I do is I go to hue and saturation, and if the hand tool is turned on, I move my mouse out in my image, click within it on the color that I want, and it should attempt to generically isolate that color. Now when you end up moving your mouse onto the image like that, you can just click, and then instead of going to hue and saturation to make a change, just drag left and right. If you drag left or right right after clicking on your picture, then you're gonna be adjusting the saturation of the color you clicked on. If you would like to change the hue, then you hold down the command key, Control and Windows when you drag. And if you hold down the command key, you don't have to go into hue and saturation up here to adjust it, you're right on your image, you just click, and then hold on the command key, Control and windows and drag horizontally. Unfortunately, I don't know of a key to hold down to adjust the lightness so that when I have to manually come up here and adjust.

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)


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!