Friday, December 1, 2006

Target selective color with Photoshop Elements


By Mike McHugh and Wayne Rankin

What do you do when you've done all that you could do to set up the perfect shot, only to find out that when you download your images, the colors are just not quite right? Your strawberries don't appear red, your sky doesn't reflect the same blue it did when you shot the photo and your skin tones don't look realistic because your people are too green or washed out.

Let's not forget that we have access to the magic of digital imagery software. The world of digital and high tech software allows easy adjustments for the ultimate image control. Many images have color shifts or areas of color that could be intensified. In fact, many of the pictures taken today, whether they are professional or family snapshots, are digitally enhanced or corrected before they hit the printer.

In this example, we'll demonstrate the ease and usefulness of targeting selective color with the Hue and Saturation tool in Photoshop Elements. Once you have mastered this feature, many of your "almost what you imagined" pictures will transform into exactly what you envisioned when you clicked your camera.

The ability to target individual colors is the perfect solution for many common digital image adjustments. Targeting selective color can be used to fix color casts, adjusting all the colors in your image, getting your whites as white as they should be and for special effects.

In Photoshop Elements, the most reliable way to achieve ultimate image control is by using adjustment layers. To begin, create a new adjustment layer, as shown in Figure A.


A new layer will allow you to keep the original pristine. (click for larger image)

Remember to always create a new layer, as this step will enable you to make changes without permanently altering the original.

In the new layer and within the layers palette, bring up the Hue/Saturation dialog box.

In the example image, the reds and yellows in the field surrounding the barn need to be adjusted.

With the Eyedropper tool in the dialog box, click on the range of colors you wish to effect in the image, as shown in Figure B.


You can select a small range of colors to adjust. (click for larger image)

In this picture, you will see the spectrum of colors in the base of the box and a bracketed indicator for the range of colors selected when clicking multiple times in the area you've decided to work on.

Use the sliders on the right and left to help you fine-tune the range.