Selective color is a function whereby general colors can be changed/altered selectively using four sliders. One can either apply it as an adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color) or straight to the image (Image > Adjustment > Selective Color). A more detailed explanation is available at the end of this tutorial.
There are 9 general colors to choose from basically, each having its own Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black properties/color values.
Dragging these sliders to the right adds amount (in percentage) of that color into the selected general color. Similarly, dragging to the left will detract it.
Relative/Absolute Radio Buttons
Relative: color changes are relative to where they are currently.
Absolute: adds/detracts exactly the amount entered.
Example: If an area already have 50% of yellow, adding 50% with Relative radio button will yield an extra 25% of yellow which is 75% (50% of 50% is 25%).
When Absolute radio button is checked, adding 50% will yield 100% of yellow, as it adds the exact amount dialed in. Absolute radio button results in a more drastic color change.
If you wish to change a color in an object, just identify which color group it belongs to and dial in the values to acquire a desired color. Note that 1 object usually falls into a few different color groups, so it’s good to know which aspect of the image needed to be changed and be extra cautious when tweaking them. This is to ensure the color of other objects doesn’t change too drastically, and to minimize undesired results.
Masking using a very soft brush, or applying Feather to a selection is one of the fastest way to ensure color change isn’t obvious to other objects at all.
There are a number of common uses of Selective Color. Below are a few examples.
Example 1: Bringing out and altering certain colors.
I want to bring out the lush green of grass and add a more prominent blue to the sky.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color.
Original Image – Image ID: 1357014 © Pavel Siamionau 123RF.com
Set “Yellows” values. Once done, click on the drop down box to alter “Blues” values.
Note that since the face area (circled) contained some yellow, the color has been changed as well though not so drastic.
Example 2: Correcting certain aspect of an image.
Some part of the image doesn’t look right. Take the hair for instance. It looks quite green.
Original Image – Image ID: 354386 © Sylwia Horosz 123RF.com
Selective color “Black” and “Green” is affecting a lot of areas on this image. Since only certain areas should be affected (e.g. hair), we should mask it out using the Lasso Marquee Tooland Feather Selection.
Example 3: Adding/reduce highlights.
Too much light is causing an over exposure on the man’s shirt.
Original Image – Image ID: 2739757 © orangeline 123RF.com
Tip 2: When using Selective Color, always double check to ensure the color/brightness altered doesn’t reveal/create noise, or jagged pixels.
Tip 3: In print/CMYK mode, adding cyan to black areas of an image will result in a richer black. This method is commonly used in commercial printing when creating large black areas of a print.
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