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Color Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 4 of 6

Isolating Colors Using Hue/Saturation Adjustment

Ben Willmore

Color Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

4. Isolating Colors Using Hue/Saturation Adjustment

Lesson Info

Isolating Colors Using Hue/Saturation Adjustment

So let's take a look at how we can change some images using hue and saturation. Here we have fall color starting. You see we have some green leaves that have some red mixed in. What if I wanted this to be a picture that had no red in the leaves? Instead I want the entirety of all leaves to be green. Well, with hue and saturation that might not be too difficult. I'm gonna come in here and do a hue and saturation adjustment layer. I just need to double check that the hand tool is turned on. Remember, if yours isn't to come up here and turn it on automatically with that, that way every time it will be turned on. I'm gonna come up here and click on something that should be red in my image to isolate the reds and then if I drag right now, that's gonna affect saturation. I wanna affect hue. Hue is basic color. And for that, I hold on the Command key, Control and Windows, and I click right on that red leaf and I drag left or right depending on what color I want. And now I can get all those fo...

rmerly red areas to be green. Once I get them to be green though, to me it looks like too intense of a green, so I'm gonna bring the saturation a little lower to see if I can get it to more blend in with the other colors that are there. If need be, I can make them brighter or darker if that needs that to blend in as well. If I turn off the eyeball at the bottom of this adjustment area, then you can see before and after. I'll throw away that adjustment and let's look at a different scenario. What if instead I want all the green portions of the leaves to be yellow or orange so it looks more like an intense fall? So we have the red tips that are there, but the middle portion instead of being green will be yellow or orange. Well, let's go here to hue and saturation, make sure the hand tool's turned on, come out here and click within the green area. That's going to change the menu up here. You might not find it changing to greens because oftentimes things you think of as being green are really dark yellow. Most people aren't used to thinking about dark yellow, but it might be. Then I'm gonna adjust the hue. Now when you adjust the hue, you don't have to totally guess at what direction to move it. If you look at this hue, it's always gonna be starting in the middle, always pointing at cyan. You can ignore the fact that it's pointing at cyan. Instead, look at the bar and find the color you're about to change. I'm about to change the greens. So I find the greens in here. Then look at the color you wanna end up with in the same bar and just ask yourself what direction, if you started with green, would you need to travel in to make your shortest distance to that color? Well, it looks to me if I wanna make this yellowish orange, I'd have to move from green towards the left and it tells you approximately how far too. If is where green is, and this is where yellow oranges, that's exactly how far I'd have to move the slider. It's just that it starts out pointing here in the middle. I'm still just gonna move it right over like that. And even though it's pointed at green, that doesn't mean anything. It means how far did I move it from where it started? In what direction? Then if you were to think about it as if you started at green and move the same direction, the same amount, that's what you're ending up with. But just look at your picture. You'll see it changing. So there I can get them all to be reds, but I wanna kind of variation. I want kind of an orangish. Once I get it into that kind of orangish color, it's not bright enough. So let's bring up the lightness. And then they're not vivid enough, so let's bring up the saturation. And then I can fine tune everything. But now I think it's start to feel like more of an intensely fall colored time. I find though the reds look a little too colorful. Well after you've adjusted one color in here, you don't have to use separate hue and saturation adjustments. If you change this menu to a different color, like reds, then you can adjust more than one color. You can adjust up to six colors in one adjustment. So now I can take the reds and say I want them to be less colorful. Let's bring that down a little. Maybe I say I want them to be a little more orangish. Whatever you'd like. So I have this image printed and it's right above the doorway that leads to my kitchen. And we have a modern home. The doors in our house are actually painted this kind of darkish, well, not dark. A vivid darkish orange, orangish red color. And with this right above the entrance to our kitchen, I wanted that background that's there to match the color of our doors 'cause you could see them in the same view. Then inside our kitchen, our kitchen's a little different. We have some green cabinets and I wanted the color of the bicycle to match the green cabinets that are inside the kitchen. Therefore, when you're about to walk into the kitchen, you see this sign right above the door and it looks like it matches everything as if it was created for it. In reality, this is a literal sign that is in I think Cabo in Mexico and I took a photograph of it. I just happen to use it above my kitchen. So let's see, how can I fine tune this? I'm gonna come in here and do hue and saturation. The little hand tool is active, so I'll click on the red background. Then if I need the red to be a little bit more orangish red, I look at this bar and I find red to begin with. It's here and there and I say, where's orange? In what direction would I have to travel in to get to orange in the shortest distance possible? Well, here's a red and orange would be going to the right just a little bit. So that means I want to take the hue slider and move it to the right just a little bit. And so I can fine tune that red, but when I do, it doesn't seem like the entirety of what's in there is changing. This area in here doesn't seem to be changing. It could be that if you look at it, you see these bars? Well, part of the wall might be this color, but part of it might be over in here. Just be a darker shade of that. Well, you can actually grab these things, move it like this, or grab its edges and move it like this to say, I wanna work on a wider range. The little outer bars means let's fade into these colors. So what you get is everything that's above the middle bar gets the full force of the adjustment you're asking for. Anything that's above the dark bars on the end, that's where it fades out. So starting with this color, it starts applying less and less and less until it gets to right here. Same with on this side. Less and less and less until it gets to there. So if I can get that to spread out, to include those other colors, I can usually get it to work fine. But there's a way to be more precise with these. If I can move them around like this and really control it. Now first off, they only show up after a color's been chosen either from this menu or by clicking with the hand on your picture. If this is set to master, those don't show up. That's the thing most people forget. They expect those to be there right away. So either have the hand tool active and click on your picture. Or choose from the pop-up menu and they'll be there. Now let's learn how to be more precise with them. How to more precisely isolate a color. And here's how you can do it. Grab one of the outer sliders and push it in towards the others until the all slam together so they're as tightly packed together as they could possibly be. Therefore, you're gonna isolate the narrowest range of colors possible. Once you've done that, this is no longer gonna be below the color you're wanting. It's no longer above the reds. Don't worry about that. Just get these to slam together and remember to get them to show up, you need to have this set to something other than master. Doesn't matter what you chose, but that's what gets these to show up. Once you have them slammed together, then these three eyedroppers are gonna be your buddies. Grab the one on the far left and watch what happens when I click within my picture. I'll click here. Do you see how they just jumped to that color? Or if you see a color in here that looks kind of yellowish green, if I click there, you see how it jumped over, jumped over. It jumps to whatever color you click on. But that's a really narrow range of colors and I doubt that picks up the variation in color we have on this wall. We can find out though by making a radical change to the picture. What I usually do generically is I bright the saturation all the way down, which should turn your image black and white. Whatever doesn't turn black and white, you haven't isolated yet. Well instead of manually splitting those sliders apart to increase the range, I can instead come in here and use the plus eyedropper. When I use the plus eyedropper, if I click on an area like down in here, it will find it in here, and it will spread apart those inner little bars so they're wider and include that color. So I just clicked and it spread it apart. I can click again. I can even drag to say, look at all these colors. I can come up here, click. And therefore I'm spreading that out, trying to get it to isolate the full range of colors that I'm attempting to change. And once you do, you probably want to come in here and just pull out these ends a little bit. So it fades into the surroundings. Otherwise you can get some abrupt edges that don't look natural. So I'll probably pull it out at least that far. Now I brought saturation all the way down just because it would be easy to see if it was a colorful image. And I'm gonna then bring saturation back up to where it was by typing a zero in for the number for saturation. And now I can move the hue around to choose the basic color and if I wanted to get that to match my doors, I might need to go a little bit towards the right. I might need to go a little bit less colorful. Maybe just the littlest bit brighter. Fine tune all these, but whatever it is, I can most likely get it to match my door. Then I wanna get the kinda cyan colored bicycle to instead be green because I have green cabinets in my kitchen, I want it to match. So I'm gonna change the menu up here to anything I have not already adjusted. It doesn't have to be cyans, doesn't matter. So I haven't adjusted the greens yet. I'll just choose that. And then I'm gonna go through the same process. I'm gonna slam those sliders together and then grab the eyedropper. I'm gonna click on the color of the bicycle so that centers it on that color and it's kind of weird. Check it out. That color of wraps all the way around the edges, 'cause remember this is like a color wheel and the ends are the same color. You can even come in here if you wanna get funky, if I can remember, if you hold down the Command key, you can spin this. So if it's ever on the ends, you can move it. You don't have to know that, but Command dragging on this, Control dragging in Windows would do that. I'm gonna again bring my saturation all the way down, just to see how much becomes black and white, and it's not much. So I grabbed the eyedropper with a plus sign on it and I click on any part of the bicycle that does not look black and white. Anything that's still has a hint of bluish cyan in it. It's starting to look black and white, I think. So then I'll bring saturation back up to the middle by selecting this number and typing in zero. Then I want greens. So I'm gonna move the hue over until I find a green. I want it to be a little darker green so I can bring that down and then adjust how colorful it is. So now I can get that bicycle to be green instead of blue. If the color that's within these wheels is different than what I've already adjusted, I could also work on it. Choose again one of these I haven't worked with yet. I don't think I've worked with blues yet. Then I might not need to slam these together. That's only if I need to be accurate. I could just grab the eyedropper and click there. Hopefully that's enough. That's not gonna be enough. How can I tell? 'Cause red's included in the fadeout and we have red in the picture. So let's slam those together. Then... Bring the saturation down. Eyedropper with the plus sign on it. See if I can isolate. Looks like it's the same color as what's up here, which is good 'cause I want that to be less colorful too. There. And then bring saturation back to the middle again. And I actually wanted it less colorful, but just probably not black and white. Maybe about there. So you get the idea that you can isolate colors using hue and saturation and then shift them around. You could make a red car blue with this technique, you can make a blue shirt green. So I think of hue and saturation for color manipulation as opposed to color correction. It takes a little practice. So go through that a few times to try to get the sense for it.

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!