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Adjusting Individual Colors Using HSL

Anytime you have just one color you want to adjust in an image (for example, let’s say you want all the reds to be redder, or the blue in the sky to be bluer, or you want to change a color altogether), one place to do that would be in the HSL panel (HSL stands for Hue, Saturation, Luminance). This panel is incredible handy (I use it fairly often) and luckily, because it has a TAT (Targeted Adjustment tool), using it is really easy. Here’s how this works:

Step One: When you want to adjust an area of color, scroll down to the HSL panel in the right side Panels area (by the way, those words in the panel header, HSL/Color/B&W, are not just names, they’re buttons, and if you click on any one of them, the controls for that panel will appear). Go ahead and click on HSL (since this is where we’ll be working for now), and four buttons appear in the panel: Hue, Saturation, Luminance, and All. The Hue panel lets you change an existing color to a different color by using the sliders. Just so you can see what it does, click-and-drag the Red slider all the way to the left and the Orange slider to –71, and you’ll see it changes the red scooters to magenta.

Step Two: If you dragged the Red slider all the way to the right, and left the Orange slider at –71, it would change the color on the red scooters to more of an orangeish color. This is a perfect task for the Hue sliders of the HSL panel. Now, what if you wanted to make the orange color more orange, but you’ve pushed the sliders just about as far as they can go? Well, you’d start by clicking on the word “Saturation” at the top of the panel.

Step Three: Now, these eight sliders control just the saturation of colors in your image. Drag the Orange slider way over to the right, and the Red not quite as far, and the orange in the scooters becomes much more vibrant (as seen here). If you know exactly which color you want to affect, you can just drag the sliders. But if you’re not sure exactly which colors make up the area you want to adjust, then you can use the TAT (the same Targeted Adjustment tool you used in the Tone Curve panel). So, if you want to make the background on the left greener, click on the TAT, then click it on the green area of the background (as I did here near the top left), and drag it upward to make it greener (downward to make it less green). You’ll notice that it doesn’t just move the Green slider, but it also increases the Aqua Saturation slider, as well. You probably wouldn’t have realized that there was any aqua in that green area of the background, and this is exactly why this tool is so handy here. In fact, I rarely use the HSL panel without using the TAT!

Step Four: To change the brightness of the colors, click on Luminance at the top of the panel. To darken the green color in the background, take the TAT and click-and-drag straight downward on it, and its color gets deeper and richer (the Luminance for both Green and Aqua decreased). Now, click-and-drag the TAT upward on one of the orange scooters to make them brighter (and notice that it moves the Red up, along with the Orange). Two last things: Clicking the All button (at the top of the panel) puts all three panels in one scrolling list and the Color panel breaks them all into sets of three for each color—a layout more like Photoshop’s Hue/Saturation. But, regardless of which layout you choose, they all work the same way. A before/after is shown here, after we changed and brightened the scooters and darkened the background area and made it more green.

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