Photoshop Color Balance Tutorial

Step-by-step tutorial on the Color Balance function to adjust tone, color and hue.

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Photoshop Tutorial - Color Balance to Adjust Tone, Color & Hue

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Using Photoshop Color Balance to Adjust Hue

This Photoshop tutorial is designed to instruct on the use of Photoshop's Color Balance dialog box window for adjusting color balance to remove unwanted color casts in your photograph. Color Balance is one of the most effective tools in the Photoshop arsenal for removing unwanted color casts caused by incandescent light, florescent light, mercury vapor lighting, or odd color casts from hazy, smoggy, cloudy, or foggy weather conditions. Note: It is critical that you have a properly calibrated monitor to perform these subtle alterations of your photo images.




Unlike the 'Hue/Saturation' function which is a ham-fisted approach that can effectively destroy or compress pixel and highlight/shadow information, the 'Color Balance' tool is an effective way to fine tune the hue of your photographs without damaging the subtle shadow and highlight pixel detail. Once you have mastered the Color Balance tool, you will never again use Hue & Saturation to make color adjustments.

Technical Note: Before making any changes to your photograph do two things: 1. Save the photo as a new .PSD file using "Save As," and 2. make all of your changes on a new duplicated layer by using Command>A to select ALL (the entire image), and then using Command > C to paste the copy to three new layers (more on this later).


Color Balance Dialog Box

Open the Color Balance dialog box from the upper menu bar by going to Image>Adjustments>Color Balance, or by using the keystroke Command>B. You will see a selection of sliders that will affect the Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights of the image independently. These are global adjustments which effect a wide tonal range and that range cannot be adjusted.

Adjusting Color Balance

When using the Color Balance tool it is best to start your adjustments with the Midtones tonal range, as this will have more of a global effect than either Shadows or Highlights. You will need to adjust all three Shadows Midtones and Highlights settings before you click OK, but I recommend that you set each one individually on its own layer. Then you can de-tune each layer by adjusting its opacity in the Layers palette.

Note: The following hardware and software was used in this tutorial: An Apple Mac Pro desktop computer, a Wacom Intuos 6x8 drawing tablet and Adobe Photoshop CS-CS5 photo editing software.




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