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Color Balance

Adjust an image's overall color bias toward a primary or secondary color


Color Balance is the changing or enhancing of an image's color bias toward a primary or secondary color.  Adjusting color balance is relatively simple and is explained on this page.

Color Correction is the removal of unwanted color casts by neutralizing blacks, grays and/or whites.  Color correction is discussed on the Levels Color Correction page and the Curves Color Correction page.


We will use Levels, instead of the Photoshop Color Balance command, to adjust color balance because Levels allows us to make this adjustment in a non-destructive manner.  To adjust an image's overall color balance...

  1. Create a Levels adjustment layer by clicking the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon Adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.
  2. Referring to Figures 1, 2 and 3, select each color channel in turn and adjust the Input Levels gamma slider Gamma slider to shift the color balance of that channel.  Shifting the Red channel to the left will shift the balance toward red and to the right toward cyan.  Shifting the Green channel to the left will shift the balance toward green and to the right toward magenta.  Shifting the Blue channel to the left will shift the balance toward blue and to the right toward yellow.  Do not use the Input black or white sliders, just the gamma slider to make the adjustment.  You can also click in the Input Levels gamma text box and use the up arrow key to shift the slider to the left and the down arrow key to shift the slider to the right.  For more information about Levels, read the Levels page.
  3. Change the Levels adjustment layer's blending mode to Color to preserve luminosity.  See Figure 4.
  4. The same Levels adjustment layer can be used to make multiple adjustments.  For example, if we wanted to increase both the red bias and the yellow bias, we would use the Red channel to add red and use the Blue channel to add yellow.

 

Red channel Figure 1.  The Red channel is where we adjust the red and cyan balance.

Green channel Figure 2.  The Green channel is where we adjust the green and magenta balance.

Blue channel Figure 3.  The Blue channel is where we adjust the blue and yellow balance.

Blending mode Figure 4.  Set the Levels adjustment layer's blending mode to Color so only the color balance, and not tone, is changed.