Color Techniques For Retouching


Lesson Info

Review of Adjustment Layers

We are going to talk about adjustment layers for color. I'm just going to show it for specific jobs. I just want to take a moment right now to kind of, how do I want to say this, to review which ones and why. Can we do that for a second? Let's just start from the bottom 'cause this is where we are. If you had to pick a start point and what you might want to consider is I have four in your bag. So let's say you've got an assignment and you want to color correct her skin. You want to have four different things you can try and what I would encourage all of you to do is try four things. When I get a job, I will grab that masky thing and I'll start and I'll go, crap, do I wanna do this with a curve, yeah maybe I do wanna do this with a curve. Hmm, I don't know. Do I want to do this with a level? Yeah, maybe, maybe, I don't know. Do I want to do this with hue saturation? I'm doing this incredibly fast. This is just showing you how my poor brain works. Someone should feel sorry for me at some...

point. Let's see. So here I've got three attempts that I did in two seconds. What I would love, love, love, love to impart upon y'all is to not be too precious with your files, not be too precious with the adjustment layers and throw something on the wall and see. Just try, four things, three things, and then take a look at them and go, oo, which of these things or combination of these things, see how these masks overlap, might I want to try. So please don't be precious about it. It takes two seconds to make an adjustment layer, two seconds to throw it away. You don't have to worry about that, alright? While we're talking about that, I'm going to give you what I would suggest are maybe my suggestions for how to use these. I'm going to show you some real jobs in a minute, but I'd just like you to make a list for a second. Solid color, again, I generally only use that with product, when I have a Pantone call out. Otherwise, if I'm colorizing something, it's the photo filter or hue saturation. Gradient fill, the only thing I use it for is a vignette. Again, folks will have many, many reasons why they want to use it. For me, just vignette. Pattern I use all the time, but not for this class. Brightness/Contrast, I only use it for mask. That is me personally because I find it not flexible enough. Again, some folks love brightness/contrast. For me, it's just a little too consumer. It's not malleable enough for me. Again, perfectly valid, it's whatever floats your boat. Levels, I use for values. I tend to not use them for color, but you can. I just don't. Some people like that histogram for the color. I only like that histogram for the black and white values. Curves I use all the time, every time, love them, love them, love them. Absolute pain in the butt to start with, a little painful. Exposure, I'm not talking about because it's kind of not the scope of the class. It's a value thing. Vibrance, I don't use vibrance at all. Many people do, I don't touch it. Hue/Saturation, I use hue/saturation rather than vibrance. I'm going to tell you that probably might be for no other reason than vibrance didn't exist before. It just didn't, so I'm used to what I'm used it. Color Balance, I use all the time. I tend to use color balance for slightly tricky skin retouching. It's a little bit of a cheat to just be like, ah, I'll warm it up a little bit using color/balance. And I use it for entertainment industry style designing to get different flavors of color, almost like a cheap color grading. Black and white filter, well I just love it. I love it. I don't often get to do black and white imagery in my business, but when I do, chances are I'll probably do the gradient map, if I don't have time to mess with it. If I do have time to mess with it, I will use the black and white filter and when I say mess, I mean adjust. However, I use it a lot, like a new favorite toy, I use it a lot for the skin tone thing. Now can I do this with curves? Absolutely, it's just my new toy. That's the only reason I do it. I'm finding it fun. Might I suggest that some of you incorporate some of these tools when you wouldn't normally. So what I mean by that, you know, I know how it is when you're on a deadline, you're just trying to get the job done and you don't have time to learn something new, but if you are on a job that's pretty standard, instead of reaching for that usual thing you do, why not just grab a different one. Just try it, 'cause you'll learn how to use it. I only suggest you do that if you have time. If you're on a deadline, don't do it 'cause your head will pop. Photo filter, ah, don't really get a chance to use it in my line of work. It's not too common. Channel Mixer, I never use it, but if I did use it, it would be for black and white only for me. Again, I want to stress, people who work in print shops often use channel mixer. Color Lookup Table, well, it's just fun, again, a way to make consistent colors across the spectrum of a job and it's a way of shaking up your pallette, doing different looks that you wouldn't normally do. Invert, Posterize, we're not going to talk about that. Gradient Map, well, it's fun. I love gradient map. I use it a lot, again for colorizing and for black and white toning. Selective Color, a lot of selective color for skin and clothing. Selective color for skin and clothing, so when I have to color adjust skin, I like selective color because I can kind of zero in on the reds and yellows, which is the primary color issue you're dealing with with skin. And I like clothing, yeah, 'cause often times, especially for catalog work, when you have a red shirt and they want it more magenta, it's so fast to just add different colors, take out cyan out of the reds and either add yellow or take out yellow, depending on what the color is. For clothing, especially for catalog, selective color is fantastic.

There are countless options for manipulating, changing and correcting color your photographs. Clear up the confusion by joining professional finisher, Lisa Carney in her exclusive class focusing just on color. In this course, Lisa will identify and clarify different adjustment layers, walk through a professional’s workflow for color correction, and dive into working with curves.

You’ll learn:

  • How to work with gradient fills and gradient maps
  • Working with Hue and Saturation
  • Setting up a Color workflow system
  • Using Gradient Maps for Color Correction
  • How to use curves for matching color and tone

Handle color like a pro by learning from one of the best retouchers in Hollywood. Join Lisa for this extensive and in-depth look on working with color in Photoshop®.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.1.0



  • This is an EXCELLENT class for Photoshop users! Lisa is very professional, knowledgeable and, also, a delight to watch and listen to! Not only that she explains the concepts but she also shares her own experience and her practical ways of using those concepts! Great, great class! Thank you, Lisa and CreativeLive!
  • I am really enjoying this class! Lisa makes complicated concepts easy to understand. She presents various ways of doing things so that you have options and can use the method that best works for your own situation. She moves quickly through the material, which I appreciate, and I since I own the class I know I can go back and review material when I need to. I love her style and approach to teaching, as well as her real world anecdotes and the way she shares her experience, both good and bad examples from her career. I'm so glad I purchased this class!
  • This course has an abundance of useful information along with professional tips based on actual field experience. This course is definitely one I will come back to from time to time to reiterate the information. For this reason the way it is organised is perfect to find information about a specific technique or adjustment layer. It is well composed with some humour and advanced information. Loved it and highly recommend it for people who want to deal with the little details and get things exactly the way they want. Not suitable for lazy or sloppy people who just want to get the job good enough for sharing but don't care about getting it perfect for print.