Photoshop Demonstration: Colour Techniques (Part 2)

Following on from our previous colour techniques Photoshop demonstration, Karl continues to discuss the concept of colour, why it’s so important in an image, why we may want to change it and how it can be adjusted in Photoshop.

Working through several different examples, Karl offers his advice for achieving colour-accurate imagery and demonstrates his preferred methods of adjusting colour in Photoshop. You’ll learn how to use adjustments such as cross curves, Selective Colour, Camera Raw Filter, Hue/Saturation and Gradient Map. Karl explains what he prefers about these methods and also why he doesn’t use some of the other common tools.

This highly informative session builds on our previous shows ‘Fundamentals of Post-Production’; ‘Live Photoshop Demonstration’; and ‘Colour Techniques Part 1’. Other tutorials that you may find useful include our class on how to use the Pen tool, making selections in Photoshop and using masks.

Topics covered in this show include:

  • How to adjust colour in Photoshop
  • Dealing with and correcting mixed lighting
  • Tips for retouching skin in Photoshop
  • Advantages of using cross curves for retouching
  • Selective Colour adjustments
  • Camera Raw Filter
  • Hue/Saturation adjustments
  • Gradient Map
  • The advantages of colour accurate monitors

If you have any questions about this class please post in the comment section below.


  1. Hi Karl, would you share your settings of your two Eizo monitors 2k and 4k. I would be interested as we use the same setup.
    Great tutorial as always.

    1. Hi, what do you mean by the same settings? The brightness is set similar on both and they are both self calibrating monitors that get plugged into the same Macbook Pro but I would say my 4K Eizo is a little better.

  2. Hi Karl, while changing the color of the KTM you wanted to have the HSL tool of camera raw as an adjustment layer. Did you ever try using three b/w layers and setting the blend modes to color, brightness and saturation instead?

  3. hi Karl, following on from Paul’s question above. If a client supplies you with a HEX reference for the specific colour of a product variant to one that you have shot, eg a very specific tone of Red when you have actually shot a Blue varian. Could you dial that Hex reference in to the colour gradient method to get an accurate recolouring of the product. Clients are obviously very specific when it comes to colour for their products.


    1. Hi Andrew, you can certainly put those numbers in as the starting point but that won’t mean it will look exactly the same as if you’d shot the subject with that colour. The key reason is to do with the underlying luminosity, for example when we shoot a yellow object or a blue one the luminosity is different, as they each reflect or absorb different amounts of light (as well as their own colour) If we then want to map a new colour on top of one that had a different luminosity (for example you desaturated the image and then painted colour on top) that original luminosity would then create a different look to reality. The best way I’ve found is through experience to understand how colours look and then apply the process manually by eye and work on the H, S & L until visually it works, whilst keeping a swatch visible. This is where the gradient map method can be useful because you can specify a HEX but adjust the behaviour of the shadows, midtones and highlights by eye with the slider blocks. An interesting test would be to find 3 kids toys, same toy in different colours and then shoot them all but then try and make the blue one look like the others – this will help give you a feel for how colours need to be adjusted to match the reality.

      1. Hi Karl,

        Many thanks for the reply, all makes good sense.

        I recently had to shoot the exterior of a house that had been painted a specific colour. The paint manufacturer then wanted the same house to be shown in different variables of the colour of the paint. I had a swatch from them digitally of the new colours and took the hex from that by sampling. I then used the colour blend layer method to recolour the walls, it got quite close but I didnt try the Gradient method. Good advice on giving it the eyeball approach also, thanks.

        Will do some more experimenting as you suggest.



  4. Karl,

    In the scenario of the car using gradient mapping for colour [or any other of your preferences] if you are given a range of specific colours [RGB, pantone etc.,], are you able to change the existing colour to the specific colour reference? So if you had a photo of a silver car and they wanted to see it in their other standard colours, is this possible?

    1. Hi Paul, yes but it would be more appropriate for them to also supply you images of the car or swatch images of the other colour so you could sample them. RGB values are good but colours can look wildly different depending on other light sources, surrounding reflections and the colour you actually want it to be in the final photo will be dependent on the surroundings in the final photo to create realism, so you’d want as many reference images as possible too.

  5. Hi Karl,
    I’ve noticed you have mentioned Capture One a number of times and was wondering if you’ve used it.
    I know Hasselblad raw files aren’t supported. Still, I have used it and would be interested in your experience with it.

    Thanks for a great course as always I learn something new.

    1. Hi Janelle, yes I’ve used it a couple of times but it doesn’t work with Hasselblad (as they are Phase) so I prefer to use Phocus. But I’d prefer Capture One over Lightroom for tethering with any other camera. It’s good software and has all the things you need but I find some of the menu structure a bit convoluted. I just want to take the picture, there isn’t a great deal more other than maybe adjusting the colour saturation on the raw file. Shadow and Highlight control are the other key ones but all the rest of the stuff I don’t need to use, I’ll finish anything else of in PS. If I get time I might do a course on it.

  6. Hi, would using different brands of softboxes (bron and chimera) cause lots of problems for colour and require lots of editing? Would I need to use a color checker and create a profile for each portion of the photo as generally only do for white balance. I wonder if that would even help if using certain brand in one area of the photo and others for different parts of the photo and then have to take multiple profiles and somehow layer them all together to mask out

    1. Hi Cameron,
      1. No many photographers do this. Even bron and other brands own modifiers are not the exact same colour temperature.
      2. It won’t cause lots of editing
      3. You need to use a colour checker card placed in front of what is the most important part of the image and the light hitting there and use it to neautralize.

      1. That’s what I thought and generally wouldn’t do but some of the modifiers I want to use aren’t in stock and the rental places here only have chimera 🙁 In the meantime it sounds best that I rent everything rather than mix and match then. Thanks for your response

        1. Hi Cameron, mix and matching modifier brands is very unlikely to cause you a problem. It’s mixed lighting like tungsten and daylight that causes a problem.

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