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Photoshop Techniques > Color Manipulation and Correction

Color Manipulation and Correction

Most of the color-correction and manipulation tools can be found in Image > Adjustments. Many of the correction tools, when used to an extreme, can also manipulate the colors. Although not all the commands are equally important, and many of them can be used in various ways, I want to give you an overview and visual guide to the commands in the Adjustments menu and how they are commonly used.

Image > Adjustments >ManipulationCorrection
Levels-By setting the highlights and shadows in an image, you can maximize the photo’s dynamic range.
Auto LevelsAdjusts each color channel to the maximum dynamic, which shifts the colors in a color image. Can result in interesting color changes.Sets highlights and shadows automatically. Works as a correction tool only with grayscale images. When used on RGB images, the result is usually a color shift.
Auto Contrast-Increases the contrast in grayscale and RGB images automatically.
Auto Color-Adjusts the highlights and shadows based on the actual pixels in the image (not the histogram or the channels).
CurvesCan be used for some dramatic color changes. Many effects—for example, most techniques for chrome—are based on the creation of curves.Allows for more precise control over the tonal range than just highlights, midtones, and shadows. Pros usually use Curves as the main tool for color corrections.
Color Balance-Allows you to change the overall color mixture by shifting the Red, Green, or Blue value.
Brightness/Contrast-Adjusts the Brightness and Contrast values by the same amount. Not the best choice for corrections because it can cause loss of details.
Hue/SaturationCan adjust the entire image or just an individual channel. It is a great tool for changing the color of an object or giving dull digital photos more saturation.Is not usually used for color corrections.
DesaturateCan be used to make a grayscale image out of an RGB image without having to switch to grayscale mode.-
Replace ColorCan replace a particular color. It is the perfect tool for changing the color of an element in an image.-
Selective Color-Make color adjustments by selecting a part of the spectrum and then changing the color mixtures.
Channel Mixer-Can be used to create grayscale images, giving you precise control over the amount of color in each channel. In CMYK mode, it is also a great tool to do some color corrections.
Gradient MapCreates wonderful color effects by replacing each pixel of the spectrum with the colors of a gradient. Very useful for compositions.-
InvertWorks best with grayscale images. Inverting RGB images usually produces somewhat unappealing colors.-
Equalize-Use this command if the scan is too dark overall.
ThresholdProduces a black-and-white version of the image. Can be used as the basis for other effects or compositions.-
PosterizeCreates interesting color shifts and also reduces the image to large flat areas of color.-
Variations-Easy tool for color corrections because it displays thumbnails. Not the best choice for precise color correction.
Layer ModesDetermines how the color values of two layers interact. Great for any photo composition.-
Here is a list of all the commands in the Image > Adjustments menu and how they can be used. Layer Modes is not part of the Image > Adjustments menu, but it is listed here since it is essential for creating photocompositions and for some other design techniques.



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