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Lesson on More Accurate Color Correction in Photoshop

Updated on August 3, 2012

Correcting Color in Photos

A color correction for a photo can have a huge impact on the overall quality of your image. All photos need minor to major color adjustments because cameras are not perfect. Plus, it is easy to have your white balance on the wrong setting or to not notice that your lighting situation has changed. Not to worry it is really easy to make an accurate color correction in Photoshop.

Color Correction Lesson

Step 1: Once you have your photo open in Photoshop you will need to create a new layer by clicking on the square next to the trash can in the layers window.

Step 2: Now click on your newly created layer and go to the "Edit" menu at the top of Photoshop and select "Fill". (Edit --> Fill)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fill with 50% GrayChange Blend Mode To DifferenceCreate a Threshold Adjustment Layer
Fill with 50% Gray
Fill with 50% Gray
Change Blend Mode To Difference
Change Blend Mode To Difference
Create a Threshold Adjustment Layer
Create a Threshold Adjustment Layer

Step 3: The Fill options window should pop up. You will want to choose "50% Gray", and click the OK button. Your photo should now be covered with a Gray layer.

Step 4: For the Gray layer you will need to change the blending mode to "Difference" which will cause your photo to look really strange.

Step 5: Now you need to create an adjustment layer by clicking on the black and white circle in the layers window. When the menu appears you should select "Threshold". In Photoshop CS4 this will cause the Threshold adjustment box to appear.

Step 6: Within the Threshold box you will see something that looks like a histogram with a small arrow under it; near the center of the graph. You will need to move that arrow all the way to the left. When you do this your entire photo should turn white.

Step 7: Now that the arrow is all the way to the left you need to slowly move it back towards the center while watching your image. As you move it back to the center, black areas will begin to appear. The first black areas to appear are the spots on your image that are the closest to 50% gray. Once you have a few black spots showing you will need to mark it.

Step 8: To mark the spot you will need to use the color sampler tool which is located under the eyedropper tool. The color sampler tool looks like an eyedropper with a cross-heir next to it.

Step 9: Now that you have the color sampler tool selected you simply need to click on the black spot. This will cause a small cross-heir with the number 1 next to it to appear on your image.

Step 10: We no longer need the layer we created that was covered in 50% gray so you can delete the layer by dragging it to the trash can in the bottom right of the layer menu. You can also do this by right-clicking on the layer and choosing delete.

Step 11: Now go back to your Threshold adjustment layer and move the small arrow all the way to the left again; just like we did before. Now slowly move it back towards the center until you see a black spot. When you find one, you will need to mark it just like before.

Step 12: You should now have two spots marked, we need to mark one more spot. Now you need to move the small arrow in the Threshold Adjustment layer all the way to the right. This will turn most or your entire image black. You then want to slowly move the arrow back towards the center by moving it to the left until you see a small amount of white. That is the area you want to mark. You can use the color sampler tool to mark this location as well.

Step 13: We now have 3 markers on our image. At this point we can delete our Threshold adjustment layer just like we deleted the 50% gray layer in step 10.

Step 14: Now we need to create a new adjustment layer like we did in step 5, but this time we will choose "Levels" rather than a "Threshold" adjustment layer.

Step 15: Once you have created a "Levels" adjustment layer a window will pop up that has a histogram and 3 eyedroppers in it. We will be using these eyedroppers to correct our color. You will notice that one eyedropper is black, another is gray, and the third one is white. Click on the gray eyedropper and move it over your image and click on the first cross-heir we created. Click the second cross-heir with the black eyedropper and the third cross-heir with the white eyedropper. Your color should now be corrected.

Step 16: To finish you will want to remove the markers we added to the photo. To remove them select the color selection tool. Once you have done that you will notice that at the top of your window you will have a button that says "Clear", just click that button and your markers will be removed.

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    • Doc Sonic profile image

      Glen Nunes 5 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

      A lot of people don't realize what that can do to improve their less-than-perfect photos (which is pretty much every photo I take - fortunately I've learned how to use software). Nice hub. Voted up and useful.

    • aedaddy profile image

      aedaddy 5 years ago

      Masterpiece!

    • Media Magnate Mom profile image

      Media Magnate Mom 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      What a great primer on how to improve those less-than-perfect photos. Useful and voted up!

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      excellent tutorial. the video helps clarify and illustrate. I learn better by seeing what it should look like as I proceed.