Saturday, January 24, 2009

Photoshop Tips: 5. Using Color Balance to refine your artwork photos.

So, you've tried the Levels and maybe the Hue/Saturation tricks, but your image is still not quite there. Time for Color Balance.
I tend to use this one near the end of the editing process, as it seems more subtle to me. This is the tool for when your values are right, your contrast is correct, but the color is just a little off.
(final edited photo above: 3 Tangerines, oil, 9" x 12")

The image below has been edited for contrast and levels already; it does have a bit of a 'milky' look in real life, but the red of that tablecloth is off.

To open the color Balance dialog box, click Cntrl+B (Cmnd+B for Mac users, or Image/Adjustments/Color Balance in the top toolbar). As in previous tips, I've used a 'control' image duplicate on the left so you can see the change.

Starting with the Midtones, move the sliders to add more color as needed
; like many of the Photoshop tools, you will need to trust your eyes and experiment. It's also very handy to have the artwork right where you can see it as you make these adjustments.

In this case I could see that the tablecloth photo had too much purple (blue) in it, and needed to be more red. (I had painted it with a warm red earth, Blockx Capucine Yellow Deep.) The sliders were moved toward red and yellow, respectively.

In a separate step, I adjusted the 'highlight' colors
, again choosing to move toward red and yellow, but also a bit toward green. (Another mini tip: For each adjustment you make, copy the previous layer and adjust on the new layer. Then if you really get lost, you can back up).

As a final step, I adjusted the Shadows
, this time moving toward Magenta and Blue. This step was more logical than intuitive; shadows are often cooler shades. This is so close to original painting, I've amazed even myself.


  1. GREAT tips on getting your image to look right.

  2. Now if I can only paint as well as you, I won't be as worried about my image!

  3. Thank you for the tutorials!! There isn't anything worse than having software you don't really know how to use!! These have helped immensely!

  4. Anita, Sheila, Sally; I'm so glad you find these tips helpful! It's been interesting to write them up.

  5. These tutorials are so good! I've learned so much so far... I'm still working on number 3. Thank you so much.

  6. Carole, thanks so much for your comments. I'll try to keep the Photoshop tips coming...

  7. see, I am learning something already! especially about using new layers for new corrections! I usually use curves for a quick correction. Also, I try to get my lighting consistent so my camera has a better chance of getting it right...usually just adjust the lights and darks and I'm done.


Thank you for your kind comments! They always make my day.